The city of Fresno announced on Friday that Rick Fitzgerald, a police veteran on paid leave after photos of him dressed in a Proud Boys uniform surfaced online, is no longer with the force.
Screen-grabbed from YouTube, the images, which circulated widely on social media on March 14, showed Fitzgerald wearing a black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt — the functional uniform of the “Western chauvinist” group — a tactical vest and a yellow kilt at a November pro-Trump rally in Sacramento. Another photo showed him more recently, in March, at a Fresno counterprotest wearing the signature garb of the “Sons of 76,” a group described as a “patriotic fraternity.”
An officer of 19 years, Fitzgerald was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. On Friday, Mayor Jerry Dyer said he had seen enough.
“Regarding the ongoing internal investigation of Officer Rick Fitzgerald, who is accused of participating with the Proud Boys extremist group, it is clear to me that there were egregious violations of department policy,” Dyer wrote in a statement published on Twitter. “I am pleased that Officer Fitzgerald will no longer be serving as a police officer with the City of Fresno.”
My statement in regards to Officer Rick Fitzgerald: pic.twitter.com/1yMA2VZCqr
— Mayor Jerry Dyer (@MayorJerryDyer) April 9, 2021
The police department confirmed the move in its own statement, calling the Proud Boys a group “known for its engagement in violent criminal behavior.”
The Fresno PD said it had “separated itself from Rick Fitzgerald, and he is no longer employed with the City of Fresno as a police officer.”
“I stand by and reassert my prior comments in strongly disapproving of any police officer affiliating with hate groups,” Police Chief Paco Balderrama said. “Such ideology, behavior and affiliations have no place in law enforcement.”
Dubbed a right-wing extremist group by the Anti-Defamation League and a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Proud Boys — more than a dozen — have been linked to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In a statement to J., the San Francisco-based regional office of the ADL said “there’s no place in law enforcement for extremism,” pointing to the ADL’s new PROTECT Plan, an effort launched after the Jan. 6 riot to combat domestic terrorism.
“We appreciate Mayor Dyer and Fresno Police Chief Balderrama for taking this issue seriously and for reaffirming Fresno’s commitment to inclusiveness,” the statement, from regional director Seth Brysk and senior associate regional director Nancy Appel read.