The Fraternal Order of Police has been one of the most divisive organizations in the United States. The group that portrays itself as a labor union (but often sounds more like a hate group) has its leadership on the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). Sitting alongside agents from various corporations, banks, and many non-profits, the union with an “us versus them” mentality toward taxpayers is allowed to contribute to policy regarding national security.
“The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) leverages the experience, expertise, and national and global connections of the HSAC membership to provide the Secretary real-time, real-world, and independent advice to support decision-making across the spectrum of homeland security operations,” reads the HSAC page.
When discussing national security, one of the major issues revolves around a divided nation and the growth of domestic terrorism. And a group with a history of defending police who invariably violate civil rights, brutalize civilians, and in many cases, murder them while providing cover for their members – who often associate with hate groups and extremists – should have no place in that conversation.
I recently covered the dangers of elevating law enforcement to the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security. This alarming observation came from that report.
History has taught us that granting the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement (OSLLE) a direct connection to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas is worrisome for many reasons. Police departments granted access to federal databases that officers routinely misuse have resulted in innocent civilians being branded as extremists for pursuing accountability and police reforms as the public’s civil and human rights are violated on a consistent basis.
From COINTELPRO to labeling Black Lives Matter protesters as “Black Identity Extremists” to the brutal and unjust murder of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, George Floyd, and so many others, police cover-ups of violence provide us with a backdrop of the implicit biases fueling their motivations in such a council – police in the U.S. and the organizations that support them are less interested in homeland security and focused more on self-preservation.
They’ve made that abundantly clear. More so in recent years than at any other time in history.
The FOP is so divisive that it took them seven months to condemn the actions of their “Blue Lives Matter” supporters who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, killing several police officers and injuring hundreds. The day after former officer Michael Fanone condemned the union saying he’s not sure why he pays his dues since the officers they’re supposed to represent don’t seem to be at the top of their list.
“I asked him to publicly denounce any active-duty or retired law-enforcement officer that participated in an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and in doing so betrayed their oath of honor,” former Officer Michael Fanone told CNN in July 2021.
The FOP showed no support for the officers who testified before Congress and made no statements regarding what they went through. Unlike the wholly invented “war on cops” narrative that they continue to promote today using terminology to suggest cops are being ambushed regularly in some sort of coordinated attack on police.
Meanwhile, their social media feeds reek of attacks on “rogue prosecutors giving sweetheart deals, activist judges releasing violent criminals, and failed progressive policies, including bail reform.” They attack policies that are proven to work because, despite the highest policing budgets in history and the militarization of police, they don’t want other services getting any funding that the FOP and its local groups believe police should get.
In an oppressive system, it’s clear who the oppressors are.
The FOP leadership also consists of its Vice President, Joe Gamaldi, the former president of the Houston Police Officers Union. Gamaldi was promoted to the FOP position after he targeted activists with hostile language when five police officers were shot in a raid. His comments came before he knew that the raid was conducted using false information and lies by a narcotics officer who has been known to trump up charges against civilians.
“We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives,” said Joe Gamaldi during a press conference shortly after the botched Harding St. raid. “And if you’re the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well, just know, we’ve all got your number now.”
Gamaldi attacked advocates for police reform because his implicit biases drove him to assume that “criminals” shot the officers. The truth is, the police raided an unsuspecting couple, opened fire on them and their dog, and the homeowner shot back not knowing who was invading his home. The couple was murdered by police officers who not only provided false information to a judge but also had a history of lying under oath to ensure convictions.
It’s nearly the same story as that of Breonna Taylor and Botham Jean. And yet, we’re supposed to believe there’s a war on cops and not the other way around. The FOP’s propaganda machine has had a decades-long head-start in perfecting its lies using manipulated data that is too often taken out of context. Similarly, they won’t tell you that more cops die from traffic accidents than anything else nor the murder of unarmed civilians exceeds police deaths by nearly 10 to 1.
Gamaldi never apologized for his divisive and targeted rhetoric. Instead, he made excuses because theirs no way he was going to apologize to the Black activists in the City of Houston nor did anyone put pressure on him to. His presser, however, exposed how police are willing to use their access to databases to target activists and police reform advocates.
“In that moment, we had four police officers shot, one of which will never walk again,” Gamaldi told Texas Monthly. “Obviously, after the fact, [we learned] that the warrant was falsified. But the other people on that team didn’t know that. The officer who is paralyzed, he didn’t know that at the time. I probably should have been more careful with my words and really drilled down on what I was trying to say. But, you know, I’m an emotional guy. And in that moment I was upset and angry, and I spoke from the heart.”
Worth noting is that Gamaldi was investigated for using racial slurs as a New York City police officer. The case was dismissed not because he was found not to have used the slurs but because the suspect lied about having a weapon. He resigned from the force shortly after and moved to Texas where he inevitably became president of the HPOU.
While Gamaldi does not sit on the HSAC, FOP president Patrick Yoes does. After George Floyd’s murder, Yoes said in a statement that has since been taken down from the FOP website that he understood what happens when police lose the respect of the citizens they serve. Yet, he does nothing to stop the propaganda that his organization uses to divide police and the people in the communities they’re supposed to help.
“We know what happens in communities when police officers lose the respect and trust of the public they protect,” FOP president Patrick Yoes said after George Floyd’s murder.
Yoes has a seat on the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
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