- The Fresno Police Department fired an officer after learning he was affiliated with the Proud Boys.
- Rick Fitzgerald told Insider that he was never interviewed as part of the investigation.
- He said he left the group in November but never saw any “racism” when he first joined.
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A California police department fired an officer from within its ranks because it was revealed he had been affiliated with the Proud Boys.
In a statement, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said officer Rick Fitzgerald was fired on Friday after an internal affairs investigation was launched last month when they became aware of online images and videos that showed Fitzgerald rallying with the Proud Boys at a November pro-Trump demonstration that turned violent.
“Such ideology, behavior, and affiliations have no place in law enforcement and will not be tolerated within the ranks of the Fresno Police Department,” Balderrama said in the statement. “Public trust and accountability are paramount in our ability to fairly police this community.”
Fitzgerald told Insider he joined the group because he agreed with their tenets.
“I looked at their tenets, and I said, okay, well, these guys are, you know, pro-First amendment, for the Second Amendment. You know, they don’t want drug wars. They want to uplift the entrepreneur, and they want to uplift the housewife. I didn’t see anything on there that was misogynistic. I didn’t see anything that was anti-race.” he said.
But Fitzgerald changed his tune after going to the November rally and left to form his own group, the Sons of ’76.
According to its website, Sons of ’76 is “a group of men who believe in uplifting and defending this brotherhood as well as our families, communities, and nation.”
The Fresno Bee reported that Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave in March after an online video surfaced of him with the Proud Boys.
The FPD opened an internal investigation into Fitzgerald, who told Insider he was supposed to be interviewed on April 12 but was fired before speaking to anyone.
“I didn’t get to talk to anybody, nothing. So they sent me the packet as to their justification as to why they were going to fire me, and it was like, there was nothing there. I mean, you could argue like the protocol and stuff, but I mean in terms of, like, the stuff they were claiming, there was nothing to justify the immediate termination,” he told Insider.
“Like there was no reason why I shouldn’t have had at least due process, but they weren’t interested in getting a statement from me or anything like that. To this day, I have not given a statement to them because they’re just not interested,” Fitzgerald continued.
Insider was unable to corroborate Fitzgerald’s account of his firing. Messages to the Fresno Police Department were not returned. When contacted by CNN about Fitzgerald’s claims, the FPD said legal constraints prevented it from commenting further.
In a video preserved by the Fresno Bee from Fitzgerald’s now-deleted YouTube channel, he said: “I don’t care if it’s Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Patriot Prayer, Sons of ’76, get involved. We’re gonna be facing some dark times with Biden and Kamala-lalla up there doing God knows what.”
In a post titled “trench warfare” that was published in December on the Sons of ’76 website, Fitzgerald talks about ongoing “battles” between “Tifa” – a reference to the Antifa – and the Proud Boys, drawing similarities between them and the trench warfare used in World War II.
He signed his post using the name “Sheepdog.”
At one point, he writes: “I saw an article on YouTube by Tim Pool. It basically eluded to the Proud Boys this weekend beating the hell out of Tifa. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with anyone slapping these kids around and have dealt with them on my own terms,” before adding that he sees the fight between the two groups as an endless cycle with no winner.
He told Insider he wasn’t inciting violence with this post, but instead was expressing frustration he felt that Antifa was reportedly taking over cities like Portland, and he wanted “ordinary Americans” to be able to go about their day without “being harassed by a bunch of kids in black.”
Fitzgerald said he personally interacted with Antifa members when he played in a band and was doxxed after locals found out he was a cop. He said he had 300 messages from people who wanted to “kick my a–,” and no one wanted to listen to his side of the story. Insider has not been able to independently verify his story.
“I’m just like, wow. I mean, I’m a libertarian. I don’t care what you guys do. If you guys want to do whatever, I’m good with that. But they don’t care because once they find out something about you, they run with that narrative and then fill in the blanks, and then they just start attacking you,” he said.