David Neiwert, Daily Kos, December 1, 2022
Boise city officials backed up their pre-Thanksgiving promises to dig deeply into the scandal that has cast a cloud over the city’s police department—the revelation that a longtime police captain was also a pseudonymous contributor to a white-nationalist organization and scheduled speaker at its annual conference—with Wednesday’s announcement by Mayor Lauren McLean that the city would hold an independent investigation into the matter conducted by a former Justice Department prosecutor.
However, the press conference itself provided a jarring reminder that the now-retired police captain’s brand of far-right extremism isn’t relegated only to the police rolls: A well-known far-right activist, acting as a pseudo-reporter for a right-wing news website, asked flustered city officials whether the (utterly bogus) Black crime statistics touted by the officer in his writings and in videos were accurate—to which, fortunately, the interim chief responded pointedly that, manipulated numbers aside, what mattered was Matthew Bryngleson’s toxic white supremacist beliefs and whether they infected the Boise Police Department (BPD).
Shortly into the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, however, a far-right activist named David Pettinger—apparently acting as a correspondent for the Idaho Dispatch—piped up and asked whether the bogus crime statistics that Bryngleson cited were accurate:
Were the statistics that Captain Bryngleson stated, were they not accurate? [Which?] The crime statistics—with African-American and people of nonwhite race committing more heinous crime?
The subsequent report in the Dispatch, written by Pettinger’s frequent cohort Sarah Clendenon, took credit for the question:
During the press conference, Idaho Dispatch asked the question whether the statistics Bryngelson cited, which sparked this inquiry, are accurate or inaccurate. The Mayor, City Council, Police, and police union representative were not able to provide an answer to that question.
There was indeed a bit of shocked hemming and hawing at Pettinger’s question initially, and a mayoral spokesperson called it “a good question,” which she did not have an answer to. Instead, she handed it off to the interim chief, Ron Winegar, who handed it adroitly:
I don’t think we are prepared today to address whether those statistics were accurate or not. We have certainly not done an analysis in relation to crimes committed in our community. But we would hope that folks can look at those statistics for themselves and draw their conclusions. More importantly, to us, is the ideology that he espoused and looking at whether or not those feelings or those views that he has or had, whether they impacted our policing, and whether we had any disparate policing outcomes or measures in place because of the views that he may have had.
For the benefit of both Boise civic authorities and anyone else confused by Pettinger’s question, the most direct and clear answer is simple: The numbers spewed by Bryngleson and his cohorts are unmitigated bullshit, concocted to create a fearmongering narrative depicting Black Americans as innately violent and threatening—which has been the meat and potatoes of white supremacism since its beginnings two centuries ago.
Clendenon’s report in the Dispatch, in fact, tries to cite one of Bryngleson’s posts at the white nationalist American Renaissance website, under the nom de plume “Daniel Vineyard”:
Violently attacking your teacher in the middle of class usually results in more harsh discipline than, say, excessive tardiness or talking in class. Blacks are suspended or expelled more because they participate in FAR more heinous behavior than whites at a much greater frequency. This isn’t rocket science. Find me a video of a wild brawl in the middle of class where a white student attacks the teacher. If you find one, I’ll provide 500 of a black “student” doing it. They cannot assimilate into ANY civilized environment. I can’t believe anyone would willingly teach in a chocolate school.
But these kinds of spurious claims have been one of the primary recruitment tools of white nationalists for several decades now, and particularly pseudo-academic outfits like American Renaissance. Its founder and primary figure, Jared Taylor, has been making a living from promoting the claims that Black people are innately more violent and prone to criminality as the cornerstone of a “white separatist” agenda that is his main political project. His pamphlet The Color of Crime, first published in 1999, has been regularly updated over the years as it continues to peddle this mythology to gullible right-wing ideologues.
The local police union representative, Cpl. Brian Holland, said his union preferred an internal investigation to an external one. Nonetheless, its members support the investigation, he said: “We do not and cannot abide by our former captain’s ideals.”
Holland hopes his colleagues will be eventually vindicated: “We felt that some comments earlier put us all in the same bucket,” he said. “We don’t feel like (those comments) represent our union members. But since then, we’re working together to make sure that we’re moving forward as a community.”
Boise City Council member Jimmy Hallyburton told the Idaho Statesman that Bryngleson’s claims, for instance, that “every major crime here involves a Black person,” were not just “clearly racist” but also fatuously wrong.