During Tuesday's Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl stated that locker rooms for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the largest sheriff's department in the United States, have Proud Boys and Three Percenters insignias on display— and also that there are deputies under investigation for their roles in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. Kuehl condemned current Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva for being silent on these issues. The Proud Boys and the Three Percenters are fascist militant groups with documented support for white supremacy. Both far-right groups have been designated as terrorists in countries like Canada and New Zealand (but not in the United States).
L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: “Walk through the locker room of deputies and see how many… um… sort of insignia you see, for the Proud Boys, for the Three Percent, for all the people we’re hearing about in the January 6th hearings. As a matter of fact, some of our own deputies are under investigation about whether they were there. And what their actions were. Do you hear from the sheriff about that? You do not.”
As Supervisor Kuehl also notes, political violence from the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters have been repeatedly discussed during the January 6th Committee’s televised hearings. In the weeks after January 6th, it was revealed that at least one deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department admitted to being at the Capitol during the riot and insurrection. Kuehl’s statement suggests that there was more involvement than just this one deputy.
These comments came during the Board of Supervisor vote on a county charter to ask voters this November if they want to hold the power to remove an elected sheriff from office. The vote passed 4-1, with County Supervisor Kathryn Barger being the sole “no” vote.
This support for fascist extremist groups and the January 6th attempted coup d'etat isn’t just on display by the rank and file. As the head of the department; Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been controversial on many issues, including his flirtation with right-wing politics. Journalist Sean Beckner-Carmitchel for Knock LA reported last month about Villanueva’s support from the far-right, which is curious, considering the sheriff calls himself a Democrat. Villanueva even has ties to the shadowy Council for National Policy, a dark money group where powerful Republican leaders, conservative donors, and members of the radical right convene to devise political strategies and projects. The Center for Media and Democracy, a national watchdog group that investigates corruption and corporate front groups, has been looking into the Council for National Policy for some time. Their research director, David Armiak, told Knock LA “that Villanueva’s Democratic Party allegiance seems odd for the CNP: 'there [are] no Democrats involved in this, and if they are, then they moved to the right.'"
According to the New York Times, the Council for National Policy pushed Republican state lawmakers to appoint fake electors and challenge the Electoral College result for the 2020 presidential election in order to illegally keep former President Donald Trump in office.
Their members include the likes of Steve Bannon and Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, both implicated in the plot to overthrow the 2020 election. Villanueva attended one of the group’s secretive meetings in Laguna Niguel this year and posed for a photo, in uniform, with far-right Christian singer and Proud Boys associate Sean Feucht. I reached out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department about this, but they told me that they have no comment.
The sheriff also participated in a Tri-County Sheriff’s Forum in April that brought together extremists and fellow right-leaning county sheriff leaders Shannon Dicus and Chad Bianco (an Oath Keepers member himself). Alex Villanueva was treated like a guest of honor at this event, as a Three Percenters flag hung in front of the entrance.
I reported on the forum in question for Left Coast Right Watch News earlier this year. After pandering to the right-wing audience with talking points about “wokeism” and sending unhoused people off on trains, Villanueva posed with far-right extremists, including a fringe Republican gubernatorial candidate who LA Times reported was the getaway driver for a far-right activist’s assault with a deadly weapon against a documentary filmmaker during a violent 2021 clash between Proud Boys, Trump supporters, anti-fascist activists, and pro-LGBTQ+ supporters.
It’s clear that when it comes to sheriff deputy support for white supremacist terrorist groups, the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the plot to overturn the 2020 election, the sympathies are prevalent at all levels of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.