In the wake of police killing George Floyd followed very closely by police killing
It is with this backdrop that we are exposing a local police officer, Austin Lewis of Bear Creek, Alabama, who shares racist posts on social media, has his online friends promote murder against black people, flashes the white supremacist “OK” hand sign, shares media promoting neo-fascist groups like Patriot Prayer and III Percenters, and spreads hateful anti-LGBT+ sentiment.
This repulsive behavior from a police officer comes as no surprise to us. They are frequently found out to also be members of far-right hate groups. However, it is our intention that with this exposé, under the momentum of our current civil unrest and struggles for justice, we will galvanize those in our community–citizens and so-called “authorities” alike–to take action and remove a hateful member in a position of authority.
This person puts black people and people of other marginalized communities in danger. We can’t expect a policeman who harbors racism and promotes neo-fascist groups to do right beside the vulnerable in our community who are already at risk of violence.
Racist Social Media Posts and Calls for Violence
Austin Lewis is a Bear Creek, Alabama police officer in the K9 unit.
Austin doesn’t like all these riots and protests going on all over the country. Of the protestors, who are made up of black people seeking justice in their communities, he asserts that they “don’t do a thing to better themselves but want everyone to feel sorry for them.” He says that when a white man gets killed, nothing happens. But don’t worry, he assures us that he’s not racist! He demonstrates this by “liking” a comment saying that protesters ought to be flung to the ground for “disrespecting” the national guard. As we’ll see, he’s also friends on Facebook with racist locals who call for violence and police brutality.
Here, he shares a Facebook meme stating that a statue of Obama, the first black president of the United States, is offensive and asks whether or not we can tear it down.
He is seen here sharing another meme that says black protestors are destroying America–mind you, black protestors who are standing up against racist police who continue to murder black people hitherto with impunity, and the only reason that cops have taken charges recently is directly due to these protests.
These memes are intentionally designed to divide by racial lines and to spread illegitimacy about violent demonstrations. Peaceful protests have been carried out again and again, and each time the protestors were equally dismissed (or the peaceful protests weren’t reported on at all). How do you get justice when any tactic you use is a zero-sum?
Due to these mass protests, a wide sweep of removing racist content has taken place with brands and media. For instance, some TV shows and movies are getting canceled or shelved indefinitely for racism or glorifying the police. Here, Austin expresses outrage over the show Paw Patrol being proposed for cancellation, followed by some of his Facebook friends calling for times to go back to the era of Western movies where people were “shot in the streets and hanged,” so that the people cancelling racist media would get “thinned out.”
In another post, he shares thin blue line propaganda that clearly demonstrates the outright fascism that so-called law enforcement upholds. It essentially says that no matter how arbitrary, racist, or equally immoral a law is, that police will uphold it, even if that law was designed to persecute racial minorities, even to the extent that the officer will use violence or murder to enforce that racist law.
Here he shares a video that glorifies militarized police and police brutality. In another post, he shares a video showing violent neo-Nazis of the hate groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon starting a street brawl with antifascists. The brawl happened in July 2018. You can verify by looking at the environment in the post compared to other videos of the brawl.
The Proud Boys are a neo-fascist street gang and SPLC designated hate group that glorifies violence against antifascists and marginalized groups. Their members gain ranks by getting in fights. They were started by neo-Nazi Gavin McInnes and have since faced charges for assault. For instance, in 2018 when they assaulted antifascists after their founder Gavin McInnes had an appearance at the Metropolitan Republican Club. One violent member in particular, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, has faced numerous arrests and charges for violence. He’s a member of both groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.
Patriot Prayer is a prominent neo-Nazi group in Portland fronted by white nationalist Joey Gibson. Patriot Prayer has had a neo-Nazi member who killed two people in a train after targeting women of color with a racist rant. He recently was convicted and found guilty on all charges and now faces life in prison. We’ve included links showing excellent coverage of Joey and Patriot Prayer by Rose City Antifa; be sure to check them out.
But Austin doesn’t stop there glorifying violence by neo-Nazi hate groups. He also seems to be a fan of the far-right militia and conspiracy theorist group III Percenters, and is seen showing the appropriated fascist white power “okay” hand sign.
III Percenters often provide security for other neo-Nazi groups. They provided security at the neo-Nazi rally Unite the Right in 2017. They’re associated with members planting bombs to trigger a race war. The Christchurch shooter flashed the “okay” symbol in his court hearing.
Austin has displayed the symbol on other posts as well.
And he seems to be just fine with police brutality and murderous police.
In a post about black comedian Jermaine “Funnymaine” Johnson, who was recently charged with inciting a riot in Birmingham, Alabama for talk about tearing down Confederate monuments, Austin calls Funnymaine a “low life” and says that he deserves punishment. His Facebook friends can also be seen chiming in with racist and tone-deaf comments. Austin is in stern opposition to the removal of white supremacist Confederate monuments.
From the AL article:
Johnson was one of the speakers at a peaceful protest in Kelly Ingram Park. “We’ve got a lot of cities around the country. They’re tearing down Target. They’re tearing down city hall. We can’t do that. We gotta protect our city,” Johnson said to the crowd of hundreds.
“We can’t tear down 16th Street Baptist Church. We can’t tear down the civil rights museum. We can’t tear down Carver. We can’t tear down A.G. Gaston Plaza. But what I’m not telling you to do is walk to Linn Park. I’m not telling [you] to walk to Linn Park after this rally. I’m not telling you to tear something down in Linn Park. I’m not telling you that I’m going to be over there after this rally,” he said.
Linn Park is home to the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument and has been a heated topic in the city. The article goes on:
At Linn Park the night before the removal, after a protesters’ efforts failed to remove the statue, Johnson told the crowd gathered there that Woodfin had asked for 24 hours to get the monuments removed.
Johnson was met with some resistance as protesters wanted to move forward with the destruction. Demonstrators did chip away at the monument and spray-painted words on it before attempts to topple to tall obelisk failed.
Johnson, who earlier had suggested to a crowd that the monument should be removed, told the crowd later that night that the mayor and his team deserved that time to get it done legally but he finished by saying, “But if that shit ain’t down by Tuesday morning, I will see you here at 12 Tuesday.”
The Birmingham mayor ultimately kept his promise to remove the monument.
Particularly in response to recent Black Lives Matter actions, Austin has posted racist drivel and his Facebook friends reinforce his racism. He hasn’t taken any action condemning their racist calls for violence. This includes one particular comment made by one of his friends making a reference to “helicopter rides.” The helicopter rides meme is passed around a lot in neo-Nazi circles. It references extra judicial murder of political activists by fascist dictator . Neo-fascist groups like Proud Boys and Anti-Communist Action are frequently seen displaying clothing and memes depicting the phrase and others like “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong.” We can also see his friends calling for militarized police states and martial law.
Austin is also homophobic, transphobic, and generally anti-LGBT+. He’s shared a lot of hateful and outright bigoted posts on social media targeting people of LGBT+ communities. But his disgusting and hateful rhetoric isn’t a new thing. We’ve found disgusting posts going back over a year and, there too, his fellow racist and bigoted friends bolster his bigotry. In these older posts you can also see that he isn’t shy about sharing content from fascist-lite pages like Liberty Hangout and content from its founder Kaitlyn Bennett. Here are some highlights.
There’s an old saying that cops and klan go hand-in-hand. The police are a fascist arm of a fascist State. They are meant to uphold white supremacy and protect the produce of capitalism. They uphold and are subservient to a white supremacist system that profits from that white supremacy and oppression and values profit over lives. It’s no coincidence that cops are frequently shown to be white supremacists who are members of neo-fascist groups.
And we damn well can’t expect racist and fascist cops like Austin Lewis to protect our communities, especially when those cops are racists, especially when members of our communities are black and people of color and members of vulnerable communities, such as LGBT+ people. We’ve been shown time and time again that these cops actively target these people and frequently result in violence and murder.
We demand that this violent, racist, and bigoted white supremacist cop be fired immediately. He’s a very real and imminent threat to our black, PoC, and LGBT+ community.