After a California police officer was filmed wearing a patch on his uniform, activists wanted him kicked off the police force for “racist” and “extremist” views. Now, the sheriff’s department has issued a surprising response.
While providing security for a protest in Cosa Mesa, an Orange County police officer was recorded and subsequently called out for wearing what critics have labeled a “far-right extremist” and “racist” patch on his uniform. Although the officer hasn’t been identified, his profile has been shared across social media by enraged citizens in an effort to get him fired.
In the recording, an individual walks past a police line, stopping in front of one of the officers to capture the front of his vest. The camera then repeatedly pans up and down from the officer’s face to his chest, pointing out a series of patches.
The patches that caused controversy include symbols for the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. The two have been described as right-wing paramilitary groups whose mission is to uphold the Constitution and protect American citizens from foreign and domestic threats. Members from both groups have been spotted at rallies, protests, and riots in an effort to maintain peace.
The Gadsden flag with the motto “Don’t Tread On Me” can also be seen on the officer’s chest. Activists accused the officer of associating with white supremacy, insisting that the groups are racist, far-right organizations. As such, calls to terminate the officer ensued, forcing the police department to handle the situation.
The Democratic Party of Orange County voiced its outrage over the officer’s patches, calling on the sheriff’s office to look into the matter immediately. The party alleged that the officer harbors racial biases that might cause him to fail to “serve and protect ALL,” adding that “there is no place for far-right militia extremism on OC’s taxpayer dime.”
In an effort to quell the backlash, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes confirmed that his department would conduct an internal investigation into the matter, although he didn’t identify the officer at the center of the controversy, Yahoo! News reports. However, after the investigation concluded, critics were more unhappy than before.
During a press conference, Sheriff Barnes announced that the officer had acted within the protocol and that he would not be losing his job. Still, the sheriff vowed to “hold that deputy responsible” for violating a policy concerning unauthorized symbology.
“Although I cannot go into the specific details of the investigation, I can tell you that there is no evidence revealed that show that [the] deputy had extremist views or racial views,” Barnes said, while noting that the patch was unauthorized. “We are going to hold that deputy responsible for his actions for the policy violation.”
Although Sheriff Barnes concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the officer holds radical views, he personally denounced the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, according to Insider. Still, he acknowledged that many symbols have different meanings to different people.
“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 officer is still employed but remains a target of the enraged activists. Without sufficient evidence, he has been painted as a white supremacist who holds extremist views that prevent him from doing his job.
Disturbingly, any group right of center is automatically labeled racist and extremist, no matter how peaceful and reasonable it is. On the other hand, far-left activists are free to call for and commit acts of violence en masse with the understanding that they will be defended as “mostly peaceful.”