An officer from the Fresno Police Department in California has been placed on leave and is under investigation after he was seen in video footage participating in a protest with the far-right extremist group known as the “Proud Boys.”
Officer Rick Fitzgerald was placed under investigation after Chief Paco Balderrama became aware of the footage, the Fresno Bee reports.
“Although at this point these are merely allegations, and the matter will be fully investigated, it is important to maintain the integrity and legitimacy of our police department,” Balderrama said in a statement. “Any allegations of actions unbecoming of a police officer or the affiliation with any alleged criminal or hate group will always be investigated and addressed. Fair and impartial policing are extremely important in our society. There is no place in our police ranks for any biased, racists, or anti-Semitic views.”
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer also spoke out on the issue.
“These images are extremely disturbing and are being taken very seriously,” Dyer wrote on Twitter. “As the mayor of this city, I will not tolerate any city of Fresno employee belonging to organizations that promote views of supremacy, racism or criminal conduct. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken to address any misconduct.”
In another video, Eddie Block identifies the man who was photographed wearing Proud Boy colors back in November, as… https://t.co/T94KRJRdbz
— Borwin (@Borwin)1615748197.0
The Proud Boys showed up to counter-protest a group that was protesting the sale of an iconic local theater to a church on Sunday. In video posted to YouTube, Proud Boy Eddie Block identifies Fitzgerald as being one of the participants. A Twitter post points out that Fitzgerald can be seen wearing Proud Boy colors back in November.
In 2019, Fitzgerald posted a photo on Instagram that showed him wearing a “Punisher” mask and pointing a gun. The caption on the photo read: “Sh*t is a lot easier when you can kill people.”
Proud Boy cop Rick Fitzgerald aka Richard Alan Fitzgerald who works for @FresnoPolice has an Instagram account wher… https://t.co/xya7ieoiIE
— biden owes me $2,000📢🌹 (@biden owes me $2,000📢🌹)1615773615.0
In other posts online, Fitzgerald claims membership in a group called “Sons of ’76,” a local “patriotic fraternity” focused on community service and charity. But he also admits his affiliation with the Proud Boys, saying he was a member for about a year before he left.
“We’re gentlemen until it’s time to not be a gentleman anymore, and then we fight,” he said. “And when we fight, we do it in an honorable way, and we do it in an efficient way, and we win. We finish the fight when it’s brought to us.”
In 2010, Fitzgerald was one of eight officers who opened fire on a 23-year-old Fresno Pacific University student who was reportedly under the influence and holding a rifle.