FRESNO, Calif (KGPE) — An officer with the Fresno Police Department was placed on administrative leave Sunday night as the department investigates his alleged ties to the far-right extremist group, The Proud Boys.
On Sunday photos and videos circulated on social media showing what appeared to be an off-duty officer participating in counter-protests at Fresno’s Tower Theatre with members of the Proud Boys.
Shortly after the photos were brought to the department’s attention, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama released the following statement:
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. 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.
Jaguar Bennet is one of the main organizers of the weekly Tower Theatre protests. He says it is troubling to know a police officer was supporting the Proud Boys at Sunday’s protest.
“I would really hope that the police can be neutral,” Bennet said. “I hope that the police are not taking sides on any of this.”
CBS47 covered Sunday’s protests, but did not capture the alleged officer on camera. The allegations surfaced on social media after the protests concluded.
Bennet believes the presence of the proud boys at these protests is meant to incite violence and provoke the peaceful demonstrators.
“I have no idea why they’re there,” Bennet said. “This is a local neighborhood dispute about zoning. I don’t see how this has any political implications that would interest the Proud Boys.”
Fresno Mayer Jerry Dyer released the following statement concerning the allegations.