A North Carolina police chief placed one of his officers on paid leave — all because the officer’s tattoo was purportedly linked to an “anti-government” group, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
What are the details?
According to the Charlotte Observer, Officer Cole P. Daniels’ tattoo is of the Roman numeral three, and is encircled with stars.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said that the emblem is affiliated with the Three Percenters, which is "a national organization made up of patriotic citizens who love their country, their freedoms, and their liberty. We are committed to standing against and exposing corruption and injustice.”
The group also aims “to utilize the fail-safes put in place by our founders to reign [sic] in an overreaching government and push back against tyranny,” and calls itself “America’s insurance policy.”
According to the SPLC, the group is an anti-government militia group.
Members of the group were also reportedly among activists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017’s “Unite the Right” rally.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said that the Daniels was placed on leave because of the tattoo.
“The pervasiveness of the concerns raised by many regarding [the officer’s] display of a tattoo that is associated with the ‘3 Percenters’ has caused the department to question [the officer’s] ability to function effectively as a police officer within this community,” Blue said in a statement.
Blue added that the department was launching an investigation into the officer and his tattoo.
“Daniels will remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” Blue said. “Consistent with our Council-Manager form of government, and our Town’s Disciplinary Process, any potential serious disciplinary action will be taken in consultation with the Town Manager’s Office and the Town’s attorneys.”
Who are the Three Percenters?
The Three Percenters’ official website emphatically denies that they are a militia.
You can read more about the group’s background here.
In addition to the tattoo, which resembles the group’s insignia, Daniels also has a tattoo which reads “We the people,” a portion of the Constitution’s preamble.
“The pervasiveness of the concerns raised by many regarding his display of a tattoo that is associated with the ‘3 Percenters’ has caused the Department to question his ability to function effectively as a police officer within this community." https://t.co/HMLTnzAtjr
— Daniel Hosterman (@dhosterman) August 30, 2018
Daniels and his tattoo went viral after he was photographed policing protesters at the Silent Sam Monument on Aug. 20, which you can read more about here.