Tampa Bay Times

COP FIRED AFTER PROBE INTO PROUD BOY TIES

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A police department in California has fired a longtime officer after investigat­ing his ties to the Proud Boys, denouncing the farright extremists that some call a hate group. The officer, Rick Fitzgerald, rallied with the Proud Boys last November at a proTrump demonstrat­ion that devolved into violence — captured in video clips that resurfaced last month as online sleuths dug into Fitzgerald’s history. Announcing Fitzgerald’s terminatio­n on Friday, Fresno police Chief Paco Balderrama said that he disapprove­s of any police officer affiliatin­g themselves with violent or hateful groups. Balderrama’s statement did not say why exactly why Fitzgerald was ousted. Fitzgerald says that he has been unfairly smeared after nearly two decades of good work on the police force. He said he rejects violence and racism. He also maintained he “never saw any sign of any kind of racism” during his year or so with the Proud Boys, though he told news outlets that he left the Proud Boys after the November rally, dismayed at other members’ actions. In a YouTube video from earlier this year, however, Fitzgerald encouraged people to join all kinds of far-right groups.

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