- An Orange County sheriff’s deputy was spotted at a Black Lives Matter protest in Costa Mesa wearing patches that appear to represent an allegiance to the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters movement.
- The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are considered right-wing extremist movements by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Each has been linked to acts of violence.
- “The deputy’s decision to wear these patches, and the implication of his association with an extremist group, is unacceptable and deeply concerning to me,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement.
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Police have launched an internal investigation after a sheriff’s deputy in Southern California was spotted with patches on his uniform that appear to be for a right-wing extremist movement.
In a video posted online Tuesday, an officer at a protest against police brutality in Costa Mesa can be seen wearing patches that appear to have the symbols for the Oath Keepers and the Three Per cent Movement.
“The deputy’s decision to wear these patches, and the implication of his association with an extremist group, is unacceptable and deeply concerning to me,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Any symbol can have multiple meanings and is open to interpretation,” Barnes maintained while adding: “Instances like this can forge a wedge separating law enforcement from the community we serve, especially during these turbulent times.”
The Democratic Party of Orange County earlier denounced the sheriff’s deputy and urged people to call the sheriff’s office to demand an investigation. “We need trustworthy officers of the law who serve and protect ALL,” it said. “There is no place for far-right militia extremism on OC’s taxpayer dime.”
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In 2015, heavily armed members of the Oath Keepers arrived in Ferguson, Missouri, during the civil unrest after the police killing of Michael Brown where, per the Southern Poverty Law Centre, they “were seen on rooftops patrolling in what they said was an effort to protect businesses from rioters.” The group, which “claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members,” according to the SPLC, believes it is fighting an elite plot to impose a “New World Order” and one-world, socialist government.
The Three Per cent movement was founded in 2008, so named for the percentage of US colonists who allegedly fought against the British during the American Revolutionary War. Its stated goal is to restore “our Constitutional Republic,” but while it pledges to only use force in self-defence, and as “a last resort,” its professed followers have been linked to acts of domestic terrorism.
In 2018, Michael B. Harri, a former sheriff’s deputy and the head of a group called the White Rabbit Three Per cent Illinois Patriot Freedom Freedom Fighters Militia, was arrested in connection with the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota, as The Centre for Investigative Reporting noted. “Three percenters were photographed in military-style combat gear guarding the perimeter of [the 2017] white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,” the centre reported.
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