Federal cops hold racist summer camp

In July 1995, militia members gathered evidence of an annual "police officers' gathering" billed as the "Good O' Boys Roundup" in Ocoee, Tennessee. The event incurred national scrutiny over charges of racism, sexual assault and drug use.

Jeff Randall of the Gadsden Minutemen militia exposed the event with the help of a confidential informant, videotaping portions of the event. A disinformation campaign tried to discredit the informers and their videotape, but in Congressional hearings federal officials admitted such activity did occur, and the Justice Department's March 1996 report on the annual event found much to criticize.

The July 22, 1995, San Francisco Examiner reported that federal investigators recovered deleted computer files concerning the gathering written by its organizer.

Senate Hearings

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 21, 1995, DEA administrator Thomas Constantine admitted that the entrance to the gathering was posted with a sign saying, "Nigger Checkpoint: Any niggers in that car? 17 cents a pound." Senators also displayed "Federal Nigger Hunting Licenses" distributed at the gathering. Racist T-shirts and other materials were also present. Participants conducted a racist campfire skit showing a Ku Klux Klansman sodomizing a participant in blackface.

ATF directory John Magaw testified that from 1980 until 1985, the event was mainly a small gathering of local police officers for outdoor recreation such as camping and rafting. From 1985 to 1990, the event grew, and "a lot of the things that were very horrendous, in my opinion, took place." A dozen to fifteen active or retired ATF agents have attended each year.

Magaw testified that ATF agents organized the event, sending out applications, collecting dues, reserving the area and so forth.

Magaw said that "why it expanded so much, is that obviously, law enforcement, because of drugs, because of gangs, because of guns being moved across the country, because of all those kinds of movement, you would work with people from another state."

Justice Department Report

In March 1996, the Justice Department released the report on its investigation into its employees' participation. The investigation did not look into local police officers' actions or those of other Treasury Department employees such as ATF agents.

The report admitted that "our investigation revealed ample evidence of shocking, racist, licentious and puerile behavior." An estimated 44 Justice Department employees, mainly FBI and DEA agents, participated in the roundups over the years.

The report cleared the Justice Department employees of any significant wrongdoing, although one agent was suspended without pay for five days for making a racist remark. The investigation found, conveniently enough, that local police were likely responsible for the more offensive behavior.

Sources: July 22, 1995, San Francisco Examiner; March 13, 1996, New York Times News Service article "Report criticizes 'good ol' boys roundup'."