Upon arriving at the first-ever Tri-County Sheriff’s Forum in California, you might find yourself asking whether you’re at a community forum or a spy convention. Supercars, guns, gadgets, snowmobiles, helicopters, military-grade special operations gear, armored vehicles, scuba-diving equipment, and even a rocket propelled grenade launcher? There was quite a militarized spectacle on display at the April 23rd event, hosted by the Sheriff’s Departments of Los Angeles, Riverside, and hometown team San Bernardino. Chino Airport, home to a large military aviation museum, was the venue. It matched the war-dog theme of the event well. Sheriff’s deputies and their supporters gathered in and around an old hangar alongside well-maintained fighter-planes dating back to World War II. It all seemed like a hefty buffet for any law enforcement and military buff, but it wasn’t the fancy war toys of past and present that caught my eye.
As I waded through the crowd towards the entrance of the hangar, my gaze lingered on a flag hanging at a booth right at the hangar opening, surrounded by pro-Trump memorabilia. The roman numeral “three” on the flag stood out amongst the U.S. and “Thin Blue Line” flags. The Three Percenters use this flag as their symbol.
But they aren’t a law enforcement agency.
They’re a self-described militia, designated as terrorists in Canadaand have a history of far-right militancy and violence across North America.
From armed participation in the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville to involvement in multiple bombing plots, the anti-government extremists are hardly what you’d expect to find at a law enforcement forum, right?
Perhaps not. The Three Percenters, like many white supremacist and far-right extremist groups, have a long history of ties to law enforcement and government.