Newly revealed documents show that California Highway Patrol officers asked neo-Nazis to help them identify anti-racist activists who attended a counter demonstration against white nationalism last June.
The Guardian reports that CHP officers worked with Derik Punneo, a member of the neo-Nazi-aligned Traditional Workers Party, and showed him photos of anti-racist activists to see if he could identify them.
“We’re pretty much going after them,” officers told Punneo. “We’re looking at you as the victim.”
The officers wanted the anti-racist activists identified as part of an investigation into violence that broke out during a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento last June, which resulted in multiple people getting stabbed.
The Guardian notes that Punneo himself was accused of stabbing anti-racist activists at the rally, and a Facebook photo of the event shows that he was armed with a knife at the time the alleged stabbing occurred.
Despite this, CHP investigator Donovan Ayres said there was not clear evidence to charge Punneo with a crime.
However, Ayres showed no such reluctance to recommend charges against an anti-racist activist who was stabbed at the rally with 11 different offenses, including disturbing the peace, conspiracy, assault, unlawful assembly and wearing a mask to evade police.
“As evidence, Ayres provided Facebook photos of the man holding up his fist,” writes the Guardian. “The officer wrote that the man’s ‘Black Power salute’ and his ‘support for anti-racist activism’ demonstrated his ‘intent and motivation to violate the civil rights’ of the neo-Nazi group.”
In the end, however, the activist was not charged, despite Ayres’ recommendation.
Steve Grippi, chief deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, denied that his investigation is biased against the anti-racist activists, and he noted that one neo-Nazi organizer has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and participation in a riot.