PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Clark County sheriff’s deputy has been fired after she was photographed wearing a sweatshirt for a known hate group.
The Columbian newspaper first reported the photo of Erin Willey wearing a sweatshirt featuring a bloody knife crossed with lipstick and the letters “PBG,” an image associated with Proud Boys Girls. The photo was sent to the Columbian by an anonymous source, according to editor Craig Brown.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as a hate group associated with other “alt-right” groups. They’ve appeared with other hate groups at gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
In Portland, Proud Boys have been seen at gatherings-turned-riots including one on June 30, where opposing political groups fought in the streets.
“Established in the midst of the 2016 presidential election by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are self-described ‘western chauvinists’ who adamantly deny any connection to the racist ‘alt-right,’ insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda,” the SPLC said. “Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.”
Willey, who started working for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in May 2017, was let go on July 17 after The Columbian’s report.
“Law enforcement officers are peacekeepers whose core mission is to protect and safeguard the community,” Sheriff Chuck Atkins said in a statement. “My expectation is that my employees do not engage in activities or associations that undermine or diminish our role as peacekeepers.”
KOIN 6 News attempted to reach Willey for comment but we were unable to reach her.
Proud Boys response
Jason Lee Van Dyke, an attorney for Proud Boys, contacted KOIN-TV disputing the group’s affiliation with white nationalism, misogyny, and nationalist rhetoric. According to Van Dyke, “[t] he only requirements for membership are that a person must be biologically male and believe that the West is the best.”
Despite former member Jason Kessler’s central role in organizing the event, Proud Boys denies any affiliation to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and insists it is a multi-racial organization.