05/23/2012

SPLC Releases New Training Video to Help Law Enforcement Officers Deal with Threat of Racist Skinheads

In an effort to help law enforcement officers protect themselves and their communities from dangerous extremists, the SPLC has produced a new training video that gives officers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the violent subculture of racist skinheads.

The 12-minute video, designed to be shown to officers during roll call, is being distributed in the law enforcement edition of the Intelligence Report, released today.

“Racist skinheads are among the most violent extremists in our country today, and officers often face significant danger when confronting them,” said SPLC chief investigator Joe Roy, a former homicide investigator and the narrator of the video. “Our video is intended to help officers recognize warning signs that could save their lives and help them keep their communities safe.”

About 55,000 officers will receive “Understanding the Threat: Racist Skinheads” – free of charge – along with their copy of the Intelligence Report, the SPLC’s quarterly investigative journal. Law enforcement agencies can obtain additional free copies of the video from the SPLC.

More than 80,000 officers received the previous SPLC training video, which focused on the anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement, which has been labeled as “domestic terrorist” by the FBI.

The SPLC is currently tracking 133 skinhead organizations across the United States. Racist skinheads have been responsible for numerous murders and other acts of violence against both officers and civilians. In 2007, for example, Utah corrections officer Stephen Anderson was killed while transporting a skinhead from prison to a hospital.

The new video will help officers understand the skinhead culture and interpret the various tattoos, patches and other symbols worn by skinheads. It features Bryon Widner, a former skinhead “enforcer” who renounced racism and, with the SPLC’s help, underwent a series of painful treatments to remove the racist tattoos that covered his face and neck. A documentary about Widner, “Erasing Hate,” aired on MSNBC last June.

“When I was a racist skinhead I was a walking warning sign for law enforcement,” Widner says in the SPLC video. “Violence was as right and necessary to me as breathing. In the skinhead way of life, earning acceptance and respect means brutalizing your enemies.”

The SPLC also offers free, face-to-face training sessions for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to help them combat extremists and hate crime. Last year, SPLC staffers trained more than 7,000 officers.