Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich tried to grapple with the fallout after one of his deputies said something in a video that was picked up and became a viral hit at InfoWars, the website of conspiracy enthusiast Alex Jones. In the video clip, the deputy said military-grade equipment was necessary because of gun-hoarding "constitutionalists" who have made police work dangerous.
The woman interviewing the deputy asked about the need for a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in America, to which the deputy replied, "We’ve got a lot of constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons, lots of ammunition. They have weapons here locally."
The InfoWars website jumped on that quote as evidence that there's a conspiracy by the country's law enforcement agencies to target Americans who hold conservative views. "Constitutionalist" is how many on the far right -- including the majority of InfoWars' audience -- describe themselves. However, as Sheriff Knezovich noted, "people need to understand that there are people who carry that title who have killed police officers."
As the Sheriff said in his YouTube response to the InfoWars video, his deputy was not referring generally to those who support the Constitution, but to self-described "constitutionalists" like Jerad and Amanda Miller.
"In Las Vegas, after the Bundy [Ranch standoff], two of those people who went down to support Bundy killed two Las Vegas police officers and draped their bodies in the Gadsen ["Don't Tread on Me"] flag," he said.
The Sheriff admitted that "it's sad and regrettable [that his deputy] chose his words poorly, because he used broad-brush strokes. If you ask people, many of them call me a 'constitutionalist.' I wear that title with honor, because I do firmly believe in the Constitution of the United States. If you look at the facts, Washington law enforcement has done more to protect the rights -- especially the gun rights -- of its citizens than any of these groups decrying the deputy's comments."
Republican representative Matthew Shea disagreed, asking "Will law abiding citizens who love the Constitution and Rule of Law be hunted down with MRAPs? Constitutionalism is fundamental to being an American. To hate the Constitution and those who support it means you are a traitor to this country."
"This is spitting in the face of all those heroes that fought, bled, and died so we might live free," he added.
In his YouTube response, Sheriff Knezovich noted that the deputy being questioned in the video is not only himself a military veteran, but has been awarded the Medal of Valor.
"Why [are] only three seconds of that interview being shown by InfoWars?" Sheriff Knezovich also asked. "Since this interview was on December 7th, and InfoWars didn't reach out until December 12th at 9:39 p.m., is why didn't they bother to try to take a chance and try contact the Sheriff's Office during operation hours. They contacted Rep. Matt Shea -- so why not talk to the Sheriff before running the story?"
"Apparently," Knezovich continued, "It wasn't that hot of a story if they waited a week" to publish it. "For InfoWars and Alex Jones, this is standing operating procedure -- they only give you what fits their agenda."
Watch Sheriff Knezovich's entire response to the InfoWars video below.