Riverside Sheriff Admits He Was a Paying Member Anti-Government Militia Group
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed Tuesday that he was a paying member of the extremist anti-government militia the Oath Keepers in 2014 after a website hack revealed the names of over 200 former or current law enforcement officers affiliated with the group. It's a stunning admission coming from the leader of one of the country’s largest sheriff’s departments. It also sheds new light on Bianco’s refusal to enforce public health restrictions during the pandemic.
The Oath Keepers view the federal government as an oppressive force. Military and law enforcement members pledge not to obey certain "orders" from government authorities. According to author Sam Jackson, who profiled the organization in his book Oath Keepers: Patriotism and the Edge of Violence in a Right-Wing Antigovernment Group, the group “has some really virulent strains of Islamophobia and nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment” as well. The Oath Keepers have a history of participating in armed standoffs, such as the one at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014, and are currently being scrutinized for their role in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Bianco "is the highest ranking law enforcement executive among the largest agencies to be tied to this militant insurrectionist group," said Brian Levin, who heads the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.
The sheriff is not apologizing for his membership in the militia, which he characterizes as nothing more than a pro-Constitution troupe. In a common refrain, he wants to know why the same attention isn’t being paid to members of Black Lives Matter.
"In today's politically toxic environment, if you support the Constitution of the United States of America you are evil — you're branded as some evil, right-wing conspirator," Bianco told the Southern California New Group.
"I'm not ashamed of what I did in 2014.”