Wilmington NC Police Officers Fired After Genocidal Comments: “We Are Just Going to Go Out and Start Slaughtering Them F—— Ni—–.”
“This cannot be viewed as isolated from the Sheriff Deputy-led lynch mob that gained national notoriety last month. Governor Roy Cooper needs to send in the SBI to conduct an independent investigation of all WPD and NHC Sheriff.”
Three police officers in Wilmington, North Carolina were fired on Wednesday after making viciously racist comments accidentally recorded by a patrol car camera, including one officer’s prediction of a coming ‘Civil War’ caused by ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. “I’m ready,” former Officer Kevin Piner told another officer.
“We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them f—ing n—–s. I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait,” Piner, who has worked in the department since 1997, continued. “Wipe ’em off the f—ing map. That’ll put ’em back about four or five generations.”
The former officer’s eagerness for a ‘Civil War’ to justify the mass slaughter of people he swore to protect is even more disturbing in the context of Wilmington’s past; in 1898, white supremacists carried out the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history, massacring the port city’s Black community and usurping the democratically elected municipal government as state and federal authorities refused to intervene.
The conversations, uncovered by chance during a sergeant’s routine video review, find Piner and two other police officers, Cpl. Jesse E. Moore II and Officer James “Brian” Gilmore, discussing their discontent with ongoing nationwide protests over racism and police brutality ignited by George Floyd’s murder last month.
According to the Department’s summary of the investigation, the conversation began with Piner lamenting to Gilmore that the only concern of their agency is “kneeling down with the black folks.” Gilmore, who has worked in the department since 1997, said that anti-racist protesters were now “worshiping blacks.”
“How many times have I told you it’s almost like they think they’re their own God?” Gilmore said, adding that he’d seen a video of a “fine looking white girl and this little punk pretty boy bowing down and kissing their toes.”
The two then complained about the protests in Wilmington and black officers in their department, with Piner calling one a “piece of s—” and Gilmore saying that he’s seen a picture of another “sitting on his a–” during the demonstrations. “Let’s see how his boys take care of him when s— gets rough, see if they don’t put a bullet in his head,” Piner said, before leaving to answer an alarm call.
Shortly after, Piner received a call from Moore, who described an arrest he’d made the day before, repeatedly calling the woman he had arrested a “negro” and a “n***er”. Moore then described an African American judge as a “f***ing negro magistrate.”
“She needed a bullet in the head right then and move on. Let’s move the body out of the way and keep going,” said Moore. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Piner responded.
Moore then returned to his story of his arrest the previous day, complaining that a sergeant he’d called for assistance did not want to break the arrestee’s car window. “He’s a p—y… they’re all p—-ies,” Piner responded. Moore then complained that the Magistrate had asked him if he’d considered involuntary commitment papers for the arrestee in consideration of her substance abuse problems, which angered the officer as he believes people use substance abuse as a “crutch.”
“God has a special place for people like that, I hope they burn in hell man…hate ’em,” Moore said of the Magistrate. “Its bad man because not all black people are like that,” Moore continued, to which Piner replied: “Most of ’em.”
“90 percent of ’em, Kevin, 90 f—— percent of ’em,” Moore said.
Piner later shifted the conversation to his prediction of an impending civil war, saying that society was already close to martial law. Piner said he was going to buy an assault rifle in the coming weeks and that he was ready to “slaughter” black people as he believed a civil war was necessary to “wipe ’em off the f—ing map” and “put ’em back four or five generations”.
Moore said he “would not do that” and “you’re crazy” before the recording was stopped.
The officers admitted to having the conversations, but denied being racist and said that they were “venting” as a result of the “stress of today’s climate in law enforcement.”
The Department’s new Police Chief Donny Williams said that he is in contact with state officials about the decertification of the fired officers’ law enforcement qualifications and is consulting with the county’s District Attorney to review bias against offenders as well as potential criminal charges. New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said on Thursday that his office is in the process of either dismissing or reviewing around 89 pending cases involving the disgraced officers.
Each of the officers spent more than two decades working for the Wilmington Police Department, raising unanswered questions as to the culture of the institution, the officers’ legacies and the younger police they mentored, and past cases beyond the 89 current cases that are being dismissed or reviewed in response to the genocidal remarks. Local outlet Star News reported on Thursday that one officer had already been previously terminated and another was previously demoted.
Steve Núñez, a PhD student of political philosophy at the University of Connecticut and a Wilmington native, spoke to Citizen Truth about his perspective on the disturbing revelations. A Special Forces veteran and an abolitionist, Núñez views the Wilmington officers’ racial hate as typical of the United States’ fervently racist carceral systems.
“This cannot be viewed as isolated from the Sheriff Deputy-led lynch mob that gained national notoriety last month,” Núñez told Citizen Truth, demanding stronger immediate action in response to law enforcement officer’s call for the mass murder of African Americans. “Governor Roy Cooper needs to send in the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) to conduct an independent investigation of all WPD and NHC Sheriff.”
“Ben David’s office cannot be trusted to act as a disinterested party to review the cases they prosecuted for a police department they are essentially partnered with,” Núñez said of the office of New Hanover county’s district attorney. “All video, email, and personnel text logs need to be examined and all arrests ever made by these officers and any others need to be immediately expunged.”
Systemic Racism In U.S. Law Enforcement
According to scholar Michael Parenti, the Constitution’s authors, composed of slave-owners, landlords, and merchants, were primarily concerned with creating a state that would serve elite interests and protect the private property of the “minority of the opulent against the majority.” Through this lens, one can understand the origin of organized law enforcement in the U.S. in slave patrols that focused on protecting the “private property” (slaves) of slave owners from escape or revolt.
Economist Darrick Hamilton notes that this exploitative dynamic continues long past the abolition of slavery, as Black Americans remain a “subsistence population“, a permanent pool of exploitable labor who bears the brunt of cyclical economic crises. Police serve to brutalize this permanent underclass, especially as precarious economic conditions drive them to illegal business like drugs, and incarcerate them in massively disproportionate numbers as part of a lucrative prison-industrial complex that uses prisoners for slave labor.
Beyond the history of police brutality towards communities of color throughout the 20th century, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) explicitly warned of white supremacist infiltration of U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2006, yet no formal system for vetting racists was established.
The FBI’s limited action can be contextualized in part by the Bureau’s own history as a tool of societal and racial control, as former leader J. Edgar Hoover was so driven to “prevent the rise of a (black) messiah” that he pressured Martin Luther King Jr. to die by suicide, operated the illegal surveillance and disruption of Black liberation and leftist organizations through COINTELPRO, and instigated the murder of 21-year old Fred Hampton, among other crimes.
While some cops have been explicitly outed as klansmen and neo-Nazis since the 2006 memo, the report also warns of more subtle “ghost skins”, who share the beliefs of their openly white supremacist counterparts but strive to maintain subtlety to more effectively advance their cause. Recent investigations by the Center for Investigative Reporting and Plain View Project, for example, have found hundreds of current and former police officers involved in racist private groups on Facebook.
“At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them,” the 2006 report stated.
In his comments to Citizen Truth, Núñez alluded to the injustice of law enforcement agencies with a documented history of racial hate maintaining a legal monopoly on violence against the citizens they swore to protect and serve.
“If someone discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions is prohibited from owning firearms, so should outed klansman cops bent on genocide,” said the abolitionist.
Wilmington’s Racist History And The Threat Of Backlash
Scholars like North Carolina native Dr. Crystal Sanders warn that the fired police officers’ genocidal remarks cannot be disentangled from Wilmington’s history as the place of the only successful coup d’etat on U.S. soil in the country’s history.
The 1898 Wilmington riots: “What happened in Wilmington became an affirmation of white supremacy not just in that one city, but in the South and in the nation as a whole.” -Laura Edwards, “Democracy Betrayed”
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) June 25, 2020
Wilmington in 1898 was the largest city in North Carolina and one of the most prosperous cities in the post-Civil War South, led by a ‘Fusionist’ government of progressive black and white public officials. The biracial Fusionists called for greater democratic participation in local government and debt relief for citizens of both races, drawing the ire of wealthy lenders who would go on to support the insurgency.
Resentful of their diminishing power over society, white Southern Democrats conspired to overthrow the Fusionists, using “the oft-told lie that every instance of sexual activity between black men and white women was an act of rape,” as a rallying call to lynch black men and “protect white womanhood.” Wilmington resident Alex Manly, the owner of the Daily Record, the only daily black-owned newspaper in the country, pushed back against this claim by arguing that many sexual relations between black men and white women were consensual and by pointing to the hypocrisy of the lynch-mobs in the context of the nation’s history of rape against black women.
The day before the coup, hundreds of white men gathered at the county courthouse and issued the ‘White Declaration of Independence,’ writing that they “hereby declare that we will no longer be ruled, and will never again be ruled by men of African origin.” The document’s authors emphasized their outrage with Alex Manly’s editorial, calling it an “article so vile and slanderous that it would in most communities have resulted in a lynching, and yet there is no punishment, provided by the courts, adequate for the offense,” and demanded that Manly leave town within 24 hours or be “expelled by force.”
On November 10th 1898, a mob of two thousand white men massacred Wilmington’s black community, destroyed Manly’s newspaper office, and forced democratically-elected municipal government officials out of their positions. Official death count estimates from the violence range from 14 to more than 300 people. Along with Manly, the coup prompted the exodus of more than two thousand black residents from the city, devastating Wilmington’s burgeoning black professional and artisan class and shifting the black majority city to a white majority.
The names of the coup’s most prominent perpetrators remain laminated on Wilmington’s public parks, university buildings, and other major community landmarks, emblematic of the whitewashed version of the town’s history that was commonly promoted until recent decades. “This history was totally hidden from white children,” Glenda Gilmore, a North Carolina native and a professor of history at Yale, told the Atlantic of Wilmington’s history. “And that was deliberate.”
Notably, the White Declaration of Independence held that the coup leaders “recognize the authority of the United States and will yield to it if exerted,” yet no power at the state or federal level took issue with the white supremacists’ meticulously planned usurpation of a legitimate democratically elected government.
“Duly elected blacks and whites were run out of office. White supremacists took over the state legislature,” Rev. Dr. William Barber said in 2013 in an explanation of how the coup re-entrenched white supremacy into the state’s legal framework: “There were always five things they attacked: they attacked education laws, they attacked labor laws, they attacked fair criminal justice laws, they attacked taxes – they wanted to cut taxes so that the government wouldn’t have any money to fulfill any of the promises that had been made to the former slaves – and they attacked voting rights.”
Sanders warns that the Wilmington police officers’ recent threats are symptomatic of ‘white backlash’, the historic tendency of white communities to violently suppress African American communities that transcend their traditional second-class status. From Ku Klux Klan terrorism in reaction to the short-lived era of “radical reconstruction“, to the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, to the Wilmington coup of 1898, white resentment against black progress has consistently manifested in state-sponsored bloodshed, most recently demonstrated by Wilmington Officer Kevin Piner’s stated desire to “Wipe ’em off the f—— map… That’ll put ’em back about four or five generations.”
“Today, as people take to the streets in defense of black Americans’ civil rights and their very lives, it is imperative that the nation not stand idly by and allow white backlash to once again derail the fight for racial equality,” warned Sanders in an article for the Washington Post on Friday.
Sanders notes that elite capitalist interest played a role in stirring racial tensions in the lead up to the 1898 coup, a pattern repeatedly seen in U.S. politics, most infamously by the the “Southern Strategy” of Presidents Nixon and Reagan, which framed the gains of Black Americans as a “threat to the economic and cultural positioning of the white working class.” As scholar Michael Parenti has observed, this technique of inciting inter-ethnic competition to prevent working class unity has been used since at least the time of Aristotle, who in Politics advised slave owners to use slaves of different nationalities to impede them from “attempting any novelties.”
Wilmington’s situation will likely remain tense as the George Floyd protests continue a nation-wide reckoning with the country’s racial issues and the local population grows more conscious of the Port City’s particularly racist past. Beyond the 1898 coup, the city gained international attention in the 1970s for the ‘Wilmington Ten‘ case, the wrongful conviction of ten young African Africans who served nearly a decade in jail before their release and eventual pardoning in 2012. Officials temporarily removed two Confederate statues in anticipation of protests on Thursday, and growing calls to rename local landmarks named after the 1898 coup’s leaders such as Hugh MacRae Park will likely be answered, according to New Hanover county Commissioner Jonathan Barfield.
“Wilmington in 1898 revealed how anger at black progress resulted in violent and undemocratic action,” wrote Sanders. “What occurred in the city is a striking reminder that we cannot turn a blind eye to state-sponsored violence from anyone, nor can the state allow vigilante violence as happened in Wilmington.”