Virginia Capitol Police officer suspended for alleged tattoos of white supremacist symbols

A sergeant in the Virginia Division of the Capitol Police, the department responsible for protecting embattled Gov. Ralph Northam, has been placed on paid administrative leave after local activists unearthed his connections to and affinity for white nationalist causes.

Sgt. Rob Stamm, 36, joined the state Capitol Police in 2014. According to the anti-fascist activist group Antifa Seven Hills, which first made the allegations, Stamm was on duty earlier this week, policing the protests at the state capitol against Gov. Northam, which were ignited by an alleged blackface scandal, when activists noted a large bandage on Stamm’s neck. The discovery prompted them to further scour his social media pages, where they allegedly found multiple links to the far-right.

On Wednesday, the Capitol Police announced in a statement that Stamm had been “placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of a review by the division” because of a “possible violation of division policy.” A spokesperson told HuffPost that the possible violations were related to “some social media posts.”

Some of Stamm’s now-shuttered Facebook likes show obvious far-right leanings, including a page for far-right French politician Marine Le Pen and a page entitled “Stop Farm Attacks & Murders in South Africa” — an issue which, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, is a favorite of white nationalists.

Stamm’s tattoos also show an alleged affinity for the far-right, the most obvious of which appears to be a large Iron Cross on his upper left arm, a German war medal. He also allegedly had a neo-Pagan Viking rune on his left bicep and what seemed to be a wolfsangel on his neck — an ancient Germanic symbol often used by far-right groups like the Aryan Nations — which he then attempted to cover up with a more generic design. Individually, none of these tattoos represent an outright affiliation with white supremacy but together, and along with Stamm’s Facebook likes, they portray troubling picture.

Stamm also allegedly uploaded two profile pictures, one on January 1, 2019 and another on January 10, 2019, which feature the logo of the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA). According to activists, a number of Stamm’s Facebook friends also claim to be associated with AFA as well.

AFA is part of the neo-Volkish movement, which occupies a strange place within the far-right movement. They advocate for the worship of European Pagan gods and focus on the preservation of tradition and the ancient beliefs of “ethnic European folk”.

The neo-Volkish movement is not as explicitly racist as other parts of the broader far right scene, such as Richard Spencer and the National Socialist Movement. Their focus on ethnic preservation, however, means that there is often an overlap between their beliefs and those of white nationalists. Far-right pages on Tumblr, for instance, regularly overlap between explicit racism and the emphasis on ethnic tradition for which the neo-Volkish movement advocates. Violent far-right groups like Atomwaffen and the Soldiers of Odin also use similar Pagan aesthetics.

In 2016 two followers of the Asatru religion were sentenced in Virginia for plotting to attack synagogues and black churches.

Stamm’s case is hardly the first time a member of law enforcement has been allegedly linked to white nationalists. In September 2018, an officer in Georgia was suspended after it was discovered he had liked Facebook posts promoting the Ku Klux Klan. In July that year, a deputy at the Clark County Sherrif’s Office in Washington State was fired for making merchandise for the Proud Boys, a far-right gang.

The FBI raised concerns about this issue in a 2006 internal intelligence assessment entitled “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement,” which noted that white supremacists “have historically shown an interest in infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.”

In a statement the AFA denied any links to the far-right. “The Asatru Folk Assembly is not, now nor ever, a ‘hate group’,” Alsherjargothi Matthew D. Flavel told ThinkProgress. “The AFA is a Church dedicated to the worship of our Gods and a love of our people. The Asatru Folk Assembly would be deeply saddened were this officer to be persecuted based on his religious preference of baseless assumptions about his free associations”

This post has been updated to include a statement from the AFA. 

Read more: thinkprogress.org