Alameda County Sheriff's Office Faces Backlash For Accidentally Retweeting White Nationalist - NBC Bay Area
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Alameda County Sheriff's Office Faces Backlash For Accidentally Retweeting White Nationalist

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    Criticism for the Alameda County Sheriff's office after it retweeted a white supremacist news conference on Twitter. Bob Redell reports.

    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017)

    The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is in hot water after a spokesman on Monday retweeted a video about a "Unite the Right" news conference held by a prominent white supremacist — a move that he insists was accidental.

    The original Tweet depicted a Periscope live stream on the account of Richard Spencer, a co-founder of the so-called alt-right movement and backer of the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. The retweet was later taken down by the department.

    A follow-up tweet by the department indicated that the retweet was "accidental" and "no way done intentionally." Another follow-up retweet revealed that the department was "working to take this accidental retweet down."

    Sgt. Ray Kelly told NBC Bay Area that he was researching someone who is expected to attend an alt-right rally in Berkeley on Aug. 27 when he clicked on the link to the news conference. As he was trying to close the link, Kelly said he hit the wrong button, which resulted in the retweet.

    He informed the higher-ups of the snafu and contacted the office's IT department for help in removing the erroneous retweet.

    Some people, however, responded to the incident with criticism.

    The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights called foul, saying that the retweet was displayed for 45 minutes before it was pulled down.

    In a statement, the organization's Executive Director Zachary Norris said: "The Sheriff’s Department’s actions on social media are only the latest in a long line of white supremacist actions they have taken. The Sheriff’s Department has a history of disproportionately criminalizing and incarcerating immigrants and people of color, profiting off of their incarceration, hosting militarized law enforcement trainings, and actively opposing community efforts to reinvest funding into much needed resources like job training, healthcare, and housing."

    The center has demanded that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department end its partnership with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department and stop hosting Urban Shield, a controversial tactical training program accused of promoting violence. 

    Norris stressed that it's not enough to simply delete a tweet.

    "We cannot separate the terrorism in Charlottesville this weekend from the many institutional forms of white supremacy perpetrated by people in power," he wrote.

    Immigrants rights groups, including the California Immigrant Policy Center, Asian Law Caucus, and others, plan to rally outside the Alameda County Sheriff's Office at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. They too are refusing to accept Kelly's apology.

    Tuesday's "scandal is the most public eruption of a long-simmering pattern of racist incidents at the department," they claimed in a statement. 

    The complaint also points to Sheriff Greg Ahern's endorsement of Jeff Sessions' nomination for Attorney General, and accuses him of alleged racial profiling.

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