Gangs, other hate groups not compatible with Air Force life

  • Published
  • By AIRMAN 1ST CLASS MICHAEL GADLIN
  • 75th Air Base Wing Legal Office
Gangs, hate, and supremacist groups have become widespread in civilian society.

These organizations have appeared in the Air Force as well.

Air Force leadership has stepped forward and declared that such unlawfully discriminatory groups will not be tolerated and have no place in today's Air Force.

These groups illegally discriminate by unequal treatment of individuals on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin or gender. The Air Force has had a long-standing policy prohibiting active participation in unlawful discriminatory organizations.

Air Force Instruction 51-903, Dissident and Protest Activities, addresses the issue of "active participation" and defines it as any activity in furtherance of the objectives of organizations or groups that attempt to create illegal discrimination or otherwise deprive individuals of their civil rights. This could include public demonstrations, fund raising, recruiting, organizing, leading, or training in support of such organizations. Additionally, while mere membership in such groups is not prohibited, the prerequisites for membership in such groups could rise to the level of active participation.

Air Force Chief of Staff T. Michael Mosley recently addressed participation in such groups, saying, "Not only does it run counter to our core values, it fosters divisive behavior and destroys good order, morale and discipline."

While the Air Force respects the First Amendment rights to free speech and association, these fundamental rights have limitations when they conflict with the needs of the military.

Recently, Air Force leaders issued statements that active participation with hate groups and gangs are not compatible with the Air Force way of life, and that violators would be punished accordingly. Airmen who choose to join these groups (or are already currently members) subject themselves to a variety of punishments to include anything from additional education and counseling to separation and possibly even criminal prosecution.

All Airmen should take pride in fulfilling the words of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney McKinley, who reminds us, "We put on our uniform everyday and defend freedom - that means freedom for all. We have no room for discrimination or racism of any kind in our Air Force. Every Airman should have an equal opportunity to be successful."