Metro Weekly

California cop under investigation after attending anti-LGBTQ Proud Boys rally

Fresno police officer Rick Fitzgerald has been placed on administrative league after attending a counter-protest with white nationalists

Rick Fitzgerald, fresno, cop, police
Fresno police officer Rick Fitzgerald — Photo: Fresno Bee

A police officer in Fresno, Calif., is under investigation after he was spotted attending an anti-LGBTQ rally with the Proud Boys.

Fresno Police Department confirmed that Officer Rick Fitzgerald had been placed on paid administrative leave after he was spotted in footage from the rally.

The Proud Boys gathered in Fresno’s Tower District to support an anti-LGBTQ church seeking to purchase a historic building in the the district, which is known as a progressive and LGBTQ hub in the city.

The Adventure Church, which allegedly opposes LGBTQ equality, is seeking to purchase the Tower Theatre, a local landmark which also hosts the annual Reel Pride LGBTQ Film Festival.

In addition to the church’s views, those opposed to the sale have argued that Adventure’s presence in the district could impact the opening of bars, nightlife spots, and marijuana dispensaries, the Fresno Bee reports.

As such, regular protests have taken place at the Tower Theatre to demand the sale be halted. It was one such protest, on Sunday, March 14, that the Proud Boys attended to counter-protest.

A recognized extremist hate group who also participated in the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Proud Boys reportedly joined other local far right and white supremacist individuals in supporting the sale of the building to Adventure.

In footage of the rally, Fitzgerald was spotted standing with the Proud Boys.

After it was alerted to his presence, the Fresno Police Department opened an investigation into Fitzgerald, who was placed on paid administrative leave.

“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,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said in a statement. “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 tweeted, “These images are extremely disturbing and are being taken very seriously.”

“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,” Dyer said. “This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken to address any misconduct.”

In social media posts found by the Bee, Fitzgerald encouraged others to join the Proud Boys and the “Three Percenters,” a white nationalist militia group. He also calls himself the president of “Sons of ’76,” a “patriotic fraternity.”

Appearing in a podcast, Fitzgerald claimed he wasn’t a fan of protests and called Sons of ’76 “gentleman combatants.”

“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.”

Read More:

Utah Republicans want phones to automatically block porn

Marvel unveils first gay Captain America in new comic series

Michigan teacher faces backlash for Facebook post complaining about transgender restrooms

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!