5. OIG findings regarding Roundup participation
by INS employees
We identified two current and one former INS employee who attended Roundups. As each of them attended Roundups since 1989 we will review their conduct and knowledge individually.
[File no. 195], an agent, attended the 1990 and 1991 Roundups while employed by INS and the 1994 and 1995 Roundups while employed by the Department of Treasury. [File no. 195] was interviewed three times: first, in a preliminary telephone interview to obtain basic attendance information; second, in a thorough interview by representatives from DOJ and Treasury OIG; and, third, in another interview with representatives from DOJ and Treasury. During the second interview, one of the interviewing agents told him she felt he was not being candid and was withholding information. He claimed he was not holding anything back. Several days later, however, he called one of the interviewing agents and asked to be reinterviewed because he had not told the investigators everything he knew during the previous interview. In this third interview he related three episodes of racist conduct that he had failed to mention in his previous interviews.
He attended the 1990 Roundup with a group from the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. He camped outside the main campground, in the open field to the left of the driveway into the campground. He arrived on Tuesday or Wednesday that week. He claimed he did not see the checkpoint sign or the KKK skit and did not hear anything about them. He did see, however, the skit where the police officer urinated over his shoulder.
In 1991, he camped in the same location. He claimed he did not see the Boyz on the Hood T-shirt at the Roundup, but had seen it in D.C. In the first and second interviews he claimed that he had not seen any racist behavior at the 1991 Roundup. In his third interview he claimed for the first time that late at night, while in his campsite, there was a line of cars with people returning from various bars waiting to get into the campground. He said he heard an unidentified person suggest that the cars should be checked for "niggers." He said some people had flashlights as if to check cars and there was a "whole lot of commotion." He did not see who made
the suggestion, he did not investigate to determine who was responsible, he took no action to make sure that such checking did not recur, and he did not report it to anyone.
He returned to the Roundup in 1994, again camping in the same location. Again, during the first and second interviews he indicated he did not observe any racist behavior during the 1994 Roundup. In the third interview, however, he made a claim identical to the one he made regarding 1991: late at night, while in his campsite, there was a line of cars coming back from the bars, and someone suggested checking cars for "niggers." As in 1991, he did not see who said it, he did not investigate to determine who was responsible or whether such checking occurred, and he did not report it to anyone.
In this same interview, for the first time, he said he saw a person during the day put a white hood, possibly a pillowcase, on his head. The person had it over his head for just a minute before someone told him to take it off. There were no markings on the "hood," and he could not say whether it was similar to a typical KKK hood or why the person put it on his head. [File no. 195] did not hear anything that was said so he does not know why the person put it on his head or whether it was even intended to be a Klan-type hood, either seriously or as a poorly conceived joke. He did not report this incident to anyone.
He returned in 1995, again camping in the same location. He volunteered to help with security and claimed that on Wednesday evening he was responsible for making sure that only police officers and their guests entered the campground. He said that a car pulled up with two black men who flashed some badges and he told them where to park and where the beer truck was. He believed they were from the Cleveland, Tennessee, Police Department. He said ten to fifteen minutes after these officers entered the campground a retired suburban Alabama police officer came down and asked, "Who let them in?" When pressed during the interview about what the person meant when he said "them," he relented and said the person had actually said, "Who let the niggers in?" He said there was a group of persons standing around but no one said anything until he finally told the man to "go back up there." Initially he claimed not to know who this person was but, when pressed, changed his mind and identified the officer. He did not take any action to stop the individual from engaging in such conduct and he did not report it to anyone.
He claimed he never heard anything about a confrontation between Scott and anyone else over the black officers being present in the campground or anyone leaving early because of the incident. He said he did hear Rightmyer make a statement to the attendees that he was glad two black officers had come and had a good time, that anyone who was in law enforcement was welcome, and if anyone had a problem with that they could leave. He said he did not see or hear anything about graffiti on the portable toilets.
He did claim to see an "O.J." T-shirt but described it as having a hangman on the back with the letters "O.J." beneath it. On the front he thought it had a drawing of "some people" and said "O.J. Simpson Dream Team, call 1-800-____." He could not remember the rest of the numbers. This is unlike the O.J. T-shirt that we determined was sold at the Roundup. The manufacturer of the O.J. T-shirt we obtained told us that he had designed the "hangman" style shirt and had not made or seen a shirt like the one [File no. 195] described.
[File no. 195]'s lack of candor in his initial interviews would be unacceptable in a DOJ employee, particularly after he was challenged on this point and maintained that he was in fact telling us everything he knew. Yet, it was not until his third interview that he mentioned three incidents in 1991 and 1994. In addition, [File no. 195] told us that the average citizen "would be shocked" by what went on at the Roundup. In light of that assessment, [File no. 195] demonstrated extremely poor judgment by returning to the Roundup. His decision to return is made even more questionable by the fact that in 1991 he heard blatantly racist activity but chose to take no action. The activity he observed is particularly significant because checking cars entering the campground suggests systemic rather than merely individual racism. Once he became aware of such racist activity, unless he was aware that someone else had taken action to stop it, he should have taken such responsibility either upon himself or reported such conduct to the Roundup organizers so they could take appropriate action. Failing that, we would have hoped that he would not return to such a function. Unfortunately, he did nothing and returned. Again in 1994 and 1995 he reportedly observed racist conduct but took no action to see that the perpetrators were ejected or even chastised. [File no. 195]'s repeated failure to either act to stop the inappropriate conduct or in the alternative to disassociate himself from an event where racist conduct went unchecked is beneath the level of behavior we expect of a Department of Justice employee. This lack of judgment is magnified by his failure to report these incidents in his initial interviews. If he were still employed by DOJ, we would have recommended that he be disciplined for his lack of cooperation during the investigation and his conduct at the Roundup. We will forward this information to the appropriate Department of Treasury component for its consideration.
[File no. 667], an agent, attended the Roundup from 1988 until 1995. Each year he camped outside the main campground because the noise level inside the campground was very high throughout the night. He only went to Grumpy's once, stayed for one beer and left because it was too noisy and crowded and catered to a "younger crowd."
Most years he went whitewater rafting with the Fort Lauderdale group, but did not do so in 1995. He spent most of his time at each of the Roundups searching local fields for Indian artifacts and arrowheads.
He volunteered for security for several years, making sure that only registered attendees and their sponsored guests were inside the campground. He said the Roundup had a lot of problems with people trying to come in who were not invited.
[File no. 667] saw the 1990 sign and said Rightmyer demanded that whoever put the sign up must take it down. He also believed that Rightmyer told the responsible persons to leave. He recalled being concerned about the sign, having a conversation with Rightmyer and others regarding the sign, and thinking that such activity had to stop. He said he was concerned about the reputation of the Roundup and wanted to feel comfortable about returning because he enjoyed himself. He told us he decided that he could make his own choices about who he associated with at the Roundup. He had to leave the Roundup early that year for work reasons and did not see the skits.
In 1991, he saw nothing of a racist nature. In 1992, however, [File no. 667] arrived at the campground early in the week, before the Roundup officially opened and before the registration desk was set up. He said he saw a small sign on a stick to the right of the road leading into the campground which read "no niggers." It was the size of an ordinary folder and made out of cardboard. It was white with black lettering. He said he drove past the sign and set up his camp. He told us he believed that federal officers should know that these types of signs are inappropriate. He took no action, however, to determine if the sign accurately reported campground policy or to remove the sign. Approximately thirty minutes later, he noticed that the sign was gone. He did not see anyone standing near the sign and does not know who was responsible.
He recalled that three or four years ago he had heard that a former Fort Lauderdale police officer wrote an article about the Roundup in a white supremacist magazine. [File no. 667] saw that person (Richard Hayward) that same year passing out white supremacist materials at the Roundup. He did not take any action to stop or to report the distribution of such materials. He said, however, he was surprised to see this person back the next year because a number of people had expressed unhappiness about his actions.
He claimed he saw no racist skits in any of the years he attended. He did recall seeing many Confederate flags in the main campground, but not out in the fields surrounding the trees. He saw the O.J. T-shirt, but did not consider the shirt to be racist. He claimed not to know anything about any confrontation at the 1995 Roundup regarding the presence of blacks. This claim is surprising because he admitted that each year he spent significant amounts of time with the person identified as the primary instigator of the confrontation. He was not likely to have been in the campground at the time of the actual confrontation and was most likely out of the campground hiking during the next day when the discussions about the confrontation took place and the Fort Lauderdale people left. He also did not go rafting with that group in 1995 so he may not have spent the usual time with this particular group. As he was very forthcoming about the sign in 1992 -- in fact, he was the only person to have reported that sign -- and because we found him overall to be a credible witness, we accept his representations regarding the 1995 Roundup.
[File no. 667]'s repeated attendance at the Roundup, however, is somewhat troubling. He observed two blatantly racist incidents, the 1990 sign and one 1992 sign. Although he determined that the 1990 sign was removed and believed that Rightmyer had ejected the responsible persons, he had no such assurances in 1992. Furthermore, he observed the 1992 sign before he entered the campground, but chose to set up camp without determining why the sign was present or whether it would remain. He did notice a short time later, however, that the sign was gone. His awareness of Hayward's efforts to distribute white supremacist materials, his lack of awareness of any action on the part of the Roundup to stop such behavior, and his failure to take any action himself are also all troubling. We further disagree with his assumption that merely deciding not to associate with people engaging in racist conduct is enough. Once the conduct becomes an integral part of an event, the entire event and not just particular individuals should be avoided. On the other hand, he was surprised to see Hayward return because he believed people were unhappy with Hayward's conduct. He perceived the Confederate flags to convey a Southern heritage message rather than a racist one. Although [File no. 667]'s repeated attendance at the Roundup is troubling, we conclude that in the absence of evidence of his actually encouraging or approving of the conduct, discipline is not warranted. The Commissioner of the INS may wish to consider, however, whether some counseling is desirable to increase [File no. 667]'s sensitivity to racial issues and appropriate off-duty conduct.
[File no. 860], a supervisor, attended the 1988 Roundup and then each Roundup from 1992 through 1995. Although he usually arrived at the Roundup mid-week, in 1992 he did not arrive until Friday afternoon. Although [File no. 860] was on the security detail list, he told us he never performed any duties relating to security or registration. Each year he camped outside the main campground because of the noise level inside the campground.
He stated that he did not observe any racist behavior at any of the Roundups he attended. At some point he heard that Rightmyer had observed a racist sign at the Roundup but immediately told people he believed to be responsible to take the sign down and to leave the Roundup. He claimed not to have seen the watermelon skit or David Duke banners in 1992. He stated that he did not see or hear about the confrontation with Jack Scott over blacks attending the Roundup. He said he spoke with Goldston, the black officer from Cleveland, Tennessee, and said Goldston did not give him any indication that he was uncomfortable or offended by anything at the Roundup. It was unclear when this conversation took place. He saw the O.J. T-shirt in 1995. Although he felt by 1995 that the Roundup had changed significantly for the worse from when he first attended, he did not feel it was a racist event. He said he spoke to Rightmyer about getting the Roundup back to the way "it used to be" by making the group smaller and exclusively for law enforcement.
As we found no evidence that [File no. 860] was aware of racist conduct at the Roundup, except for hearing about a sign at a previous Roundup and hearing that it was immediately removed, we found no basis to conclude that he either encouraged or approved of racist conduct.