ADL's Anti-bias Training is not a Model for Modern Day Policing

As we reach the one year mark of Michael Brown Jr.’s killing, we reflect on the efforts to address anti Black policing in the Saint Louis region. On July 31st the Anti Defamation League (ADL) honored the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police department for their participation in ADL’s Law Enforcement and Society (LEAS) training. The ADL’s anti bias training program, a program that uses the holocaust “to teach how police enforcement supported the escalation of violence in Nazi Germany” is insufficient for addressing the prevalence of anti-Black racism in police agencies across the U.S.

The Anti Defamation League, an organization rooted in a long fight against anti-semitism has been linked locally with the monitoring and silencing of Palestinian activists in the U.S.  In 2011, the ADL sent former chief of Saint Louis County Police, Tim Fitch, to Israel for training on population control with the same troops responsible for the continued violence against Palestinians and Israel’s African population. As recently as this past April Israeli troops were caught on video attacking  an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent.

The killing of VonDerrit Myers, Kajieme Powell, and many other unarmed Black people by Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department, whose officers have received this training for 10 years, reveals the futility of ADL’s training.  In a recent interview on Saint Louis Public Radio Charles Ramsey, the Philadelphia Chief of Police and leader of the ADL’s LEAS program, states that the Jewish Holocaust history is “a good teaching mechanism because the officers of today, so far removed from the actual event, have no cause to become defensive. It acts as a ‘backdoor approach’ to the issue of personal bias without using ‘race relations’ as a jumping-off point”. The LEAS training actually teaches bias in the abstract by failing to address it in its present day form. Oppression is based on the context of particular conditions and by using the Jewish holocaust as the foundation for this training, ADL is using a particular history as a universal history. It is an escape into the past and an attempt to avoid the central issue; which is anti-Black racism. By stating that officers become too defensive when discussing race Ramsey reinforces the necessity for centralizing anti-blackness in the training, afterall we are giving officers deadly weapons and authority to police Black communities.

On August 9th, 2015 we will honor Michael Brown, Jr. and all of our taken. We will continue to struggle for the liberation of Black people by centralizing the experiences of Black working class people in our work. ADL’s training is not a model for modern policing - by centralizing the Holocaust as a tool for educating officers on anti-bias training the ADL completely erases the reality of anti-Black violence in the United States.