The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) is investigating whether individuals within county law enforcement are members of a right wing extremist group linked to white supremacy, the attempted overthrow of America’s government and other conspiracies, after hacker at Distributed Denial of Secrets shared with journalists about five gigabytes of emails, chat logs, members and donor lists and other files obtained from the group.
New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck has not indicated whether state investigators are looking into the the possibility of law enforcement officers, military personnel, and government officials in New Jersey who are part of a far-right group known as the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest far-right antigovernment groups in the U.S. today, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Anti-Defamation League describes them as “right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
A 60 Minutes report stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) calls the Oath Keepers an anti-government militia.
Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office detective Craig Iacouzzi claims he “never met anybody or spoke to anybody” from the Oath Keepers, but the name “Craig Iacuzzi” is listed on the New Jersey chapter’s website.
The revelations about the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia connected to white supremacy, were detailed in a report by Gothamist/WNYC, which revealed via hacked records that a number of law enforcement, public safety and service members were scattered throughout the state of New Jersey.
In addition to participating in a conspiracy around the attempted coup d’etat on January 6, Oath Keepers have called for Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler “to be tried, convicted and executed” after he recommended measures to prevent gun violence as the city endured clashes between Trump-loving white supremacists and Black Lives Matter activists in the weeks after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.
Members of the Oath Keepers have become a focus for federal prosecutors investigating the unprecedented coup d’état attempt against the United States on January 6th.
Video footage of the melee at the U.S. Capitol showed a team of people wearing Oath Keepers insignia, clad in camouflage as they charged up the Capitol steps in military formation. Eighteen members of the group have been indicted for conspiracy and at least five have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the event.
New Jersey has no law prohibiting law enforcement officials from being in groups advocating white supremacy such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys or Three Percenters
Those groups have all been linked to the seditious attack on the Capitol.
However, the state Attorney General’s office said police departments and other local agencies have the authority to establish rules that ensure employees’ personal associations and conduct do not conflict with their duties to the public, as long as those rules don’t inappropriately infringe on officers’ First Amendment rights.
A spokesperson for New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck said changes are being considered to prevent extremist groups from infiltrating law enforcement organizations.
“To build and maintain the trust of the communities they serve—especially vulnerable communities that have been targeted by hate groups in the past—it is imperative the ranks of our law enforcement be free of bias and hate,” said spokesperson Steven Barnes.
“There are obvious concerns about any member of law enforcement participating in a group such as this. We are investigating this matter and because it also affects multiple law enforcement agencies across the state, we have reached out to the Attorney General’s Office for guidance,” said HCPO spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.
“Any relevant information we uncover may be shared with the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.”
While the emails and chat logs are being made available to the public, a small portion of the files will be provided only to journalists and researchers because it contains personally identifiable information, financial data , passwords, decryption keys and other details which could be abused.