A police sergeant in Virginia who was assigned to monitor the protests related to Gov. Ralph Northam was suspended Wednesday after being identified by an anti-fascist group as having an “affinity with white nationalist groups.”
The sergeant, Robert A. Stamm, 36, “has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of a review,” the Virginia Division of Capitol Police said in a statement. Sergeant Stamm joined the division in 2014 and was promoted to his current rank last year, officials said.
“There is a review policy in place, and we will follow that policy,” Col. Anthony S. Pike, the division’s chief, said in the statement.
Reached by telephone on Wednesday night, Sergeant Stamm declined to comment.
The authorities said in the statement that they were “made aware” early Wednesday morning of a “possible violation of division policy” by Sergeant Stamm. A police official specified that the possible violation that prompted the suspension was outlined in a blog post published on Tuesday by Antifascist of the Seven Hills. The group describes itself as an organization that seeks “to fight fascists” in Richmond, Va., “as communists and anarchists united in militant opposition.”
In the blog post, the group published several pictures — apparently pulled from Sergeant Stamm’s social media accounts — of what it said was him with tattoos, flags and banners that it said were symbols and images associated with Nazis and white supremacists.
Prof. Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said some of the symbols could have “dual messages.” For instance, the Wolfsangel symbol — which resembles one of the tattoos — is a centuries-old insignia that was later used in Nazi Germany, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“These symbols, whether Wolfsangel or others, embrace Nordic history and culture,” Professor Levin said. “A lot of this has been appropriated by modern-day white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”
The anti-fascist group said Sergeant Stamm came to its attention during the recent protests on the Capitol grounds during which people have demanded that Governor Northam resign over a racist photo in his medical school yearbook. Sergeant Stamm came to the attention of anti-fascists because he had a large Band-Aid covering his neck during one of the protests, the group said in its blog post. The police official confirmed that Sergeant Stamm had been assigned to patrol Virginia’s Executive Mansion at least twice in recent days.
The group also alleges that on Sergeant Stamm’s Facebook page — which, along with other social media accounts appears to have been deleted — he was “friends with a number of people who claim to be associated with the group Asatru Folk Assembly” and at one point earlier this year added a profile photo of himself with what the group said was the Asatru Folk Assembly logo overlaid on it.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the Asatru Folk Assembly “perhaps this country’s largest neo-Völkisch hate group.” Neo-Völkisch adherents, the Law Center says, are “spirituality premised on the survival of white Europeans and the preservation of dead or dying cultures they presume to embody” and “organized around ethnocentricity and archaic notions of gender.”
As recently as 2015, the F.B.I. foiled a plot by two men in the Richmond area who ascribed “to a white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru faith,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in a federal affidavit. The plot, the agent alleged, involved shooting or bombing black churches and Jewish synagogues and doing harm to a gun store owner.
Doris Burke contributed research.
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