On Thursday, the Huffington Post reported on a Massachusetts police officer who participated in the neo-Nazi "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 — then went on to continue working at his police department for five years, until finally being exposed this week.
"The officer, John Donnelly, was still an active-duty member of the police force until Thursday, shortly after HuffPost inquired about his status with the department and role in the deadly white supremacist rally," reported Christopher Mathias. "Donnelly, 33, was a patrolman for the Woburn Police Department near Boston, where he has been employed since 2015."
The detective work to uncover Donnelly's identity was done by an antifascist group, Ignite the Right, which used facial recognition software to track down his identity.
According to the report, Donnelly "acted in key security and planning roles" at the rally, acting as a bodyguard for neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. He also identified as a member of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, later called the American Identity Movement, and posted racist and anti-Semitic content under the pseudonym, "Johnny O'Malley."
"'If anyone heading downtown flying in Friday and has transportation … that wants to pick up two IE goys up at the airport, shoot me a [private message],' he wrote. 'We’re flying into CVille airport.' (The word 'goy' is a Jewish name for non-Jewish people that’s been appropriated by antisemites in recent years.)" said the report. "In the video of Donnelly at the rally, it’s clear that he is working as a bodyguard for Spencer, the racist and antisemitic leader of the 'alt-right' — a term Spencer coined to make his white supremacist movement sound more palatable to the general public."
The Charlottesville rally became infamous across the nation after a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was murdered in a vehicle-ramming attack by James Alex Fields.
"After HuffPost contacted the department about Donnelly’s extremism, Police Chief Robert Rufo and Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin released a statement announcing Donnelly had been put on administrative leave pending an investigation," said the report. "'The Charlottesville rally is a dark moment in our history, and deeply disturbing,' Galvin said. 'The City of Woburn is taking these allegations seriously by investigating the incident thoroughly and I will move to terminate Officer Donnelly if the investigation concludes that the allegations are accurate.'" Rufo said Donnelly will be decertified as a police officer if the allegations are true.
This comes amid investigations into police involvement in extremist groups. A list of members of the January 6-linked paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, whose leaders are on trial for seditious conspiracy, reportedly details "hundreds" of actively serving law enforcement involved with the group.