Neo-Nazi group's racist hate crimes condoned by public apathy and silence: police
As an associate of neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour returned to court yesterday, police detectives give VO an exclusive glimpse inside their battle against hate crimes in BC. They say racist hate crimes are made possible by public apathy.
“We look at things like patterns of behaviour by offender, and what the victim feels – that's a huge part,” Wilson explained. “How the victim interprets the offence against them can go a long way in leading us to believe that it's a hate crime.
“Investigations never end – even when we send a package to Crown, we're still following up with stuff, so we gotta be careful. One of our biggest problems, or talking points, is we don't want to profile organized hate. We don't ever want to be put in position of advertising it.”
But Dutton, who has researched racism organizations for 25 years, said that a major aspect of police investigations into white supremacist groups is through surveillance and undercover officers inside the groups. He pointed to the widely publicized outing of Grant Bristow – a Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent planted inside the racist Heritage Front from 1988-1994 - who faced criticism for helping build up the organization.
“That's the main way of getting information – it is not only to infiltrate, but also to encourage people to defect, to give information about the organizations,” Dutton said. “No one wants to discuss undercover operations.
“But anyone who would deny there are undercover operations, after the history of such operations in Canada, would be wrong. We have to scrutinize it in the community. Obviously, there has to be some secrecy.”
When VO asked the BC Hate Crimes Team how they gather intelligence, Wilson declined, explaining that their investigations are ongoing and also before the courts. But when asked to confirm whether the authorities have undercover officers within BC white supremacist groups, the question seemed to catch the detectives off guard.
“In the groups?” Wilson responded.
“We can't talk about any ongoing investigations or intelligence-gathering,” Levas interjected.
Though police could not disclose their investigative strategies, it is likely their information-gathering has intensified recently, said Dutton.
"I'd expect that every communication would be monitored, and every email and website scrutinized, every march, every meeting would have at least some attention," he added.
In any case, the team works closely with municipal forces, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD)'s hate crimes unit under Det. Cst. Cheryl Leggett, and the Attorney General. The government funds an outreach program, Embrace BC, which educates about racism and diversity issues in the community. But Dutton said the program did not live up to its antiracism mandate.
"I think Embrace BC has failed," he said. "Programs undertaken are not done with full community consultation.
"Antiracist organizations have largely died on the vine. There's one dealing with immigration (No One Is Illegal) – and they are certainly not invited to government negotiations."