Tag Archives: Anti-government

Solano County Sheriff refuses to share FBI report clearing deputies

Community Group Slams Sheriff For Lack Of Transparency

SFGate.com, by John Glidden, April 15, 2021
Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara

Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara has come under fire from critics claiming he hasn’t been completely transparent when he said federal law enforcement cleared several of his deputies of being members of an extremist organization.

Ferrara told Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) in a letter this week that the FBI “confirmed none of my employees are members of any extremist organizations.”

This includes the Three Percenters militia group, which advocates for the Second Amendment and the right for private gun ownership, along with active resistance toward the U.S. government.

Ferrara and the Sheriff’s Office have not released any official reports or documents supporting Ferrara’s claim that his deputies were absolved of being part of an extremist organization.

“I’m not comfortable with the sheriff’s response,” said Nimat Shakoor-Grantham, co-founder of BBLM, on Thursday. “(Ferrara) has proof that deputies in his office supported these groups in the past. You can take off the uniform but you can’t take off the bias.”

Three Percenters are an anti-government militia named after the mistaken idea that only 3 percent of the American colonists fought in the revolution against Great Britain.

Shakoor-Grantham pointed to the firing of a Fresno police officer after he allegedly participated in a rally held by the far-right extremist group Proud Boys in mid-March. The officer was placed on leave the following day and then subsequently terminated.

“What other proof does this sheriff need?” she added. “The FBI has deemed militia organizations like this as terrorist groups.”

In its letter, which was also directed at the Benicia City Council, BBLM demanded that Ferrara and the council “not only visibly and vocally condemn right wing extremism, but also pledge to conduct afull investigation both at the County level and at the City level to ensure that policies and procedures – including those focused on recruitment and disciplinary actions – are in place to actively expel these extremists from the ranks of law enforcement and to prevent their recruitment in the first place.”

Brandon Greene, co-founder of BBLM, said Ferrara’s letter showed his unwillingness to weed out extremists in his office and be transparent about his investigation.

“Where is this FBI report?” asked Greene on Thursday. “Put it out to the public and community for scrutiny.”

The county did not respond to a request from this news organization to see the FBI report.

Both Greene and Shakoor-Grantham said the Solano County Board of Supervisors’ decision not to get involved is frustrating.

“The sheriff is almost emboldened by the lack of Board of Supervisor action,” Greene added.

Greene said BBLM sent a letter asking the board to do something, with Supervisor Monica Brown the only one to respond.

“(Supervisor) Monica Brown said the board didn’t have the power to investigate,” Greene said.

Greene says that isn’t true, as a newly enacted law, Assembly Bill 1185, allows the board to create a civilian sheriff oversight board and inspector general position. The board and inspector general would have subpoena power to investigate issues within the sheriff’s office.

Shakoor-Grantham and Greene said they have approached the board to have an item placed on the agenda to discuss the issues raised by the Open Vallejo investigation.

“So far, it’s been crickets,” Shakoor-Grantham said. “They won’t talk about it.”

A request for comment sent to the clerk of the Solano County Board of Supervisors wasn’t immediately returned on Thursday.

Ferrara continues to reject the findings from Open Vallejo’s investigation, claiming he found “no merit” in the allegations made in the report.

Open Vallejo originally reported that members of Ferrara’s office displayed imagery and support to the Three Percenters over social media during the past few years. Former Solano County sheriff’s Public Information Officer Daniel “Cully” Pratt, who owns a wood-working business, made a gun display rack for his colleague Sgt. Roy Stockton in 2016. Cully Pratt’s brother is well-known actor Chris Pratt.

The piece includes Three Percenter imagery, like 13 shotgun shells arranged in a circle around the Roman numeral III. It also has “WILL NOT COMPLY,” at the bottom of the display. Cully Pratt used the hashtag “#3percenter,” and “blackgunsmatter,” among others in the Instagram post.

Cully Pratt told The Vacaville Reporter in response to the Open Vallejo article that the symbols in the post were “believed to be strictly in support of the 2nd Amendment and Pro-America — not in any way extremist anti-government views.”

However, in the same year Cully Pratt unveiled his art on Instagram, Three Percenters from Idaho sent some of its members over to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon during an armed standoff with federal officials.

Stockton, who was recently elected to the Vacaville City Council, also sold leather products under the name High Brass Leather and another business. As of Thursday evening, the High Brass Leather website had been taken down. For a time, a product was displayed on the site showing a coiled snake and a Roman numeral three surrounded by 13 stars.

Open Vallejo also uncovered that Ferrara’s office homeless outreach coordinator, Deputy Dale Matsuoka, under the name Matt Daley posted Three Percenter imagery over his social media.

With the lack of information coming from the Board of Supervisors and Ferrara’s office, Shakoor-Grantham says she is fearful interacting with sheriff’s deputies.

“I can’t call the sheriff’s office for support,” she said. “I don’t want them coming to my house. I’m a Black woman. It scares me.”

Solano County Sheriff Says FBI Found No Link Between Deputies and Antigovernment Extremists

Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara

KPIX5 CBS SF BayArea, April 14, 2021

SOLANO COUNTY (BCN/CBS SF) — Solano County Sheriff Thomas A. Ferrara said this week that federal law enforcement officials found no evidence that his employees “are members of any extremist organizations” after an investigative report by the online news site Open Vallejo this past February found several sheriff deputies displayed support for an antigovernment militia movement.

Ferrara issued his response to members of Benicia Black Lives Matter following a Feb. 14 letter the group sent — days after the Open Vallejo article was published — to Ferrara demanding the sheriff expel the deputies for supporting the right-wing extremist group Three Percenters.

“Although I cannot comment on specifics of my internal investigations, I can tell you that we found no merit to the criminal/racist allegations made in the ‘open Vallejo’ article,” Ferrara wrote. “We have reviewed our social media and political expression policies, and in consultation with the FBI, concluded that the photographs (taken over four years ago) of the deputies, although disappointing, are not in themselves a crime or were in violation of policy when the social media posts were first published.”

In its investigation, Open Vallejo discovered several members of the sheriff’s office, including former sheriff’s office Public Information Officer Daniel “Cully” Pratt, posted Three Percenter imagery on their respective social media pages during the past few years.

Pratt, who operates a wood-working business, posted a photo of himself posing with a handmade wooden rifle display rack that he made for Sgt. Roy Stockton in 2018.

Stockton is also a member of the sheriff’s office and was recently elected to the Vacaville City Council.

The art piece includes the words, “WILL NOT COMPLY,” and 13 shotgun shells arranged in a circle around the Roman numeral III. Pratt used the hashtag ‘#3percenter,’ in the Instagram post.

The sheriff’s office homeless outreach coordinator, deputy Dale Matsuoka, posted Three Percenter symbols over his social media, according to Open Vallejo, which also discovered that “Matsuoka changed his Facebook profile picture to the Three Percenter logo. It was accompanied by the slogan, ‘When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty,’”

A loosely formed group, Three Percenters was founded following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. The name comes from the incorrect belief that only 3 percent of the American colonists fought against Great Britain during the American Revolution. The group, which is spread-out through the United States, advocates for active resistance of the federal government and the right for private gun ownership.

Ferrara also addressed concerns about a possible link between the Three Percenters and the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., which left five people dead, including a police officer. Ferrara said that “with a high degree of confidence” he was certain none of his employees were present in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.

“Since the events of January 6th occurred, I have educated myself and my command staff on the III Percenters and have arranged for training in extremist ideology for all of my staff, as well,” he wrote. “We learned that the ideology of the III percenters has changed since the posts were first made, which has deepened our own understanding of the need to proactively address all political ideologies with a renewed level of social responsibility and accountability.”

Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown said Wednesday that she is pleased Ferrara worked with the FBI to determine if any of the sheriff’s employees were part of an extremist organization.

“I trust the FBI,” said Brown, who represents the city of Benicia, along with a portion of Vallejo. “I also trust Tom, he keeps tight reigns on his employees. But I’m also glad this information came to light. We always need to pay attention about possible links to extremists.”

Fellow Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan agreed.

“I do appreciate the sheriff’s response,” Hannigan said about Ferrara’s letter. “We were relieved to know, early on, none of our officers were involved in the insurrection. I was reassured.”

Ferrara went on to say in his letter that “individuals are required to pass a rigorous background investigation, which specifically examines extreme personal beliefs,” before being hired by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

“All of my deputies wear body worn cameras and we have a process in place to randomly review their contacts with citizens and calls for service,” he added.

The letter from Benicia Black Lives Matter further demanded the county establish an Office of Equity, much like the city of Benicia and Sonoma County did, “to solidify (Solano County’s) commitment to equity and the eradication of racist ideology.”

Ferrara’s letter didn’t address that demand.

Representatives with Benicia Black Lives Matter couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

Garamendi, Thompson, Grayson, Benicia Black Lives Matter, others call for investigation, but Solano sheriff stands by deputies who displayed militia support

Several officials, including two members of Congress, are calling for an investigation into possible far-right extremism inside the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara
Open Vallejo, by Scott Morris, March 15, 2021
[BenIndy editor: Also check out Andrés Soto’s 3/12 interview of Scott Morris on KPFA El Show (great music, interview begins at 3:40).  – R.S.]

Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara indicated he does not plan to investigate potential far-right extremism within his agency, despite growing calls to do so after several deputies spent years promoting the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia whose adherents have planned and executed terrorist attacks across the country.

In a statement, Ferrara dismissed an Open Vallejo investigation published last month that revealed two sergeants and a deputy had displayed support for the Three Percenters. But federal, state and local officials, including two members of Congress and a state assemblymember for Solano County, voiced alarm at the deputies’ conduct and called on authorities to investigate.

“The events that transpired in Washington, DC on January 6th showcased to the world what will happen if hate and intolerance go unchecked and unaddressed in our society,” U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, whose district includes Fairfield and Vacaville, said. “If the allegations in this report are true then steps must be taken to ensure these structural issues are addressed,” he said.

Ferrara declined to respond to detailed written questions that Open Vallejo sent more than a week prior to publication. He said in the statement, released four days after Open Vallejo’s article, that he did not believe the deputies aligned themselves with the extremist group they promoted.

An AR-15 rifle on a display rack bearing the words, "WILL NOT COMPLY" and the logo of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia linked to violence across the country.
Daniel “Cully” Pratt made this rifle rack for fellow Solano County Sheriff’s Sgt. Roy Stockton, who was elected to the Vacaville City Council in November. It depicts the logo of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia that has been linked to terrorist plots across the country. An Open Vallejo investigation found that Pratt, Stockton, and Deputy Dale Matsuoka shared imagery linked to the extremist group over the course of several years.

“I want to be clear — the employees targeted in this article all serve this agency and this community with passion and dedication,” Ferrara said. “The employees told me that their intention was to support the 2nd amendment and the U.S. Constitution.”

But according to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice, the Three Percenter movement goes beyond support for the Second Amendment. Three Percenter ideology includes a willingness to violently resist the federal government, authorities have alleged in court papers. Adherents have been prosecuted for a series of bombing and kidnapping plots across the country. Numerous rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 displayed Three Percenter emblems and at least five people associated with the movement have been charged in connection with the day’s events.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa and Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, also called for further investigation.

“Any potential ties that law enforcement members or any public officials have to extremist groups should be promptly investigated by the authorities with the proper jurisdiction,” Thompson said, noting that he called for a commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol and the government’s failure to address domestic terrorism.

Assemblymember Tim Grayson, D-Concord, said he is “deeply concerned” about any extremist ties in the community and particularly law enforcement where their presence could further undermine trust.

“Accountability is a must,” Grayson said, “and I support all efforts to hold public servants to the highest standards so that we can rebuild trust, ensuring everyone in our community can feel and be safe.”

A Three Percenter logo rests in the center of an icon of a bald eagle over a backdrop of the American flag.
Deputy Dale Matsuoka posted numerous Three Percenter symbols to his personal Facebook page under the name Matt Daley and other pseudonyms. Open Vallejo / Screenshot

Robert McConnell, the newly-elected mayor of Vallejo, said that from what he knows about Three Percenters he believes it is incompatible with being a law enforcement officer and worried that such groups may have broader support in Solano County law enforcement. “That is a classic conflict of interest and requires a stand down from the position occupied to which tax payer dollars flow for true professional performance,” McConnell said. “Anything less is not only unacceptable, unprofessional conduct, but lacks honor.”

Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown noted that she could not comment on specific county employees, but said she found the extremist groups as described in the Open Vallejo article “deeply disturbing.”

“After the insurrection on Jan 6th, it is even more incumbent on us to reject extremist groups and ideology that undermine our democratic government,” she said.

Vallejo city councilmember Tina Arriola said that Three Percenter logos and other extremist imagery have no place in area law enforcement and any potential corruption should be investigated by an impartial and trustworthy third party. “These revelations have, I’m sure, created just cause for public concern that needs to be addressed and rectified,” she said.

Local residents and community groups have also called for an investigation. In a letter published in the Vallejo Times-Herald, Benicia Black Lives Matter called the Open Vallejo report “terrifying” and the sheriff’s response “underwhelming.”

“We demand the leaders of Solano County and City of Benicia not only visibly and vocally condemn right-wing extremism,” the letter stated, “but also pledge to conduct a full investigation both at the county and city levels to ensure that policies and procedures — including those focused on recruitment and disciplinary actions — are in place to actively expel these extremists from the ranks of law enforcement and to prevent their recruitment in the first place.”

The deputies who displayed Three Percenter emblems include Sgt. Daniel “Cully” Pratt, previously the department’s public information officer; Sgt. Roy Stockton, whom Ferrara endorsed for the Vacaville City Council; and Deputy Dale Matsuoka, the department’s homeless outreach coordinator.

Pratt and Stockton sold crafts with Three Percenter symbols and their posts suggested a willingness to violently defy the federal government, including a gun rack that Pratt made for Stockton’s AR-15 rifle that included a Three Percenter emblem and the words, “WILL NOT COMPLY.”

Stockton took office on the Vacaville City Council in January. During public comment at the first meeting since the article was published, speakers referenced the report and questioned Stockton’s fitness to lead. Supervisors Mitch Mashburn and Joe Vasquez, who endorsed Stockton for the council, did not respond to questions about whether they stood by their endorsements. Mashburn is a former Solano County sheriff’s lieutenant and Vacaville councilmember.

Pratt did not respond to questions from Open Vallejo either before or after publication, but provided a statement to other media outlets which echoed Ferrara’s characterization that he only meant to show support for the Second Amendment by sharing symbols associated with the Three Percenters.

Pratt said that in 2016, when he posted a photo of the gun rack he made for Stockton with the hashtag “#3percenter,” he believed the Three Percenter movement was “strictly in support of the 2nd Amendment and Pro-American — not in any way extremist anti-government views.” Earlier that year, Three Percenter groups participated in an armed standoff with federal authorities in Oregon that left one man dead.

“I am disheartened that a photo taken in 2016 is now being used to link my family name to a radical attack on the US Capitol in 2021 and disparage work that I have done in the community trying to bring folks together,” Pratt’s statement read. Pratt first posted photos of the gun rack in 2016 and periodically reposted it for years, most recently in December 2018.

Overhead view from an FBI surveillance helicopter of several figures standing in the snow. One man is flanked by two law enforcement officers who are pointing weapons at him.
FBI surveillance footage shows militant LaVoy Finicum moments before he is shot dead by two Oregon State Police officers during the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Three Percenters armed with rifles took part in the standoff.  Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Ferrara did not respond to follow up questions from Open Vallejo about whether he plans to investigate potential extremist support within his agency or whether he is confident that his office can effectively investigate domestic terrorism involving the Three Percenters or other violent far-right groups.

Some proposed legislation could force Ferrara to take action.

In February, state Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, introduced a bill, AB 655 that would require law enforcement agencies to investigate whether officers have participated in specified “hate group activities,” including the display of symbols associated with hate groups on social media. If they had, it could disqualify them for employment.

Roseryn Bhudsabourg, a spokesperson for Kalra, said that such investigations are “critically needed” and “extremism, racism, and bias have no place among our law enforcement agencies and only contributes to the erosion of public confidence in the legitimacy and fairness of our justice system.” She said that it appears the actions of the Three Percenters meet the definition of a hate group in the bill.

The state Department of Justice said in a statement that law enforcement officers found to be involved in violent extremism should be removed. “There’s no place for violent extremism of any kind in law enforcement,” the department said. “It erodes public trust and we look forward to working with our partners at the federal, state, and local level to address these recently-heightened concerns through all appropriate means, including potentially through officer decertification for serious misconduct in the future.”

The gravity of the threat posed by extremist groups was again highlighted in January, when Napa County sheriff’s deputies, working with the FBI, arrested an American Canyon man who allegedly possessed pipe bombs and dozens of firearms, including a belt-fed machine gun. Authorities allege that Ian Rogers, who owns a specialty auto repair in Napa, may have had intended to target state politicians and technology companies.

He also had a Three Percenter emblem on his car, investigators allege. In an affidavit, FBI Special Agent Stephanie Minor wrote of the emblem, “I know from my training and experience and my discussions with other agents experienced in domestic terrorism investigations that this sticker is commonly used by so-called ‘Three Percenters,’ people who ascribe to extreme anti-government, pro-gun beliefs.”

Ferrara, while appearing to stand by his deputies, insisted in last month’s prepared statement that extremist beliefs have no place in law enforcement.

“And if there is ever a time when a member of our office is displaying support to overthrow the government,” he wrote, “it will be dealt with swiftly.”

Investigation: Solano Sheriff officer promoted far-right imagery

Chris Pratt’s Solano Sheriff officer brother promoted far-right imagery, investigation shows

While the ‘Jurassic Park’ star has long faced questions about privately supporting conservative politics, his older brother has been promoting extremist Three Percenter imagery for years, a new report alleges.
Actor Chris Pratt accepts the Guy of the Year award onstage during Spike TV’s Guys Choice 2015 at Sony Pictures Studios on June 6, 2015 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Spike TV)
Actor Chris Pratt accepts the Guy of the Year award onstage during Spike TV’s Guys Choice 2015 at Sony Pictures Studios on June 6, 2015 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Spike TV)

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Martha Ross, February 10, 2021

Over the years, Chris Pratt has supported his brother, Daniel “Cully” Pratt, in his efforts to promote the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, charitable groups and a side business making and selling decorative wood carvings.

But did the “Jurassic Park” star pay close attention to the way that Cully Pratt, the department’s former public information officer, used his personal social media platform and wood-carving business to seemingly promote the right-wing group, the Three Percenters?

According to an investigation by the independent news website Open Vallejo, Cully Pratt for years has promoted extremist imagery connected to the right-wing group on social media and in his wood carving.

The Three Percenters are a loose-knit coalition that, with the Oath Keepers, are part of the antigovernment militia movement whose followers express anti-government views and a willingness to defy the federal government, according to the Southern Poverty Law Project. At least one person with ties to the Three Percenters was charged in the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, where five people died, including one police officer. Other people with ties to the Three Percenters have been connected to bombings and kidnapping plots.

Open Vallejo investigative reporter Scott Morris also found that at least two other members of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office posted Three Percenter imagery on their public social media pages.

“Their friends and followers include staff at the sheriff’s office,” Open Vallejo reported. “While not all interacted with the deputies’ Three Percenter posts, (the deputies’) identity and stated views were clear.”

An Instagram post by Cully Pratt, for example, shows him displaying one of his wood carvings with the hashtag “#3percent.” This carving apparently was made for his colleague, Sgt. Roy Stockton, who was elected to the Vacaville City Council in November. Open Vallejo also said Stockton, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, has a side business selling items referencing far-right imagery, including Gadsden flags with coiled rattlesnakes, and other coiled snake figures.

As the news site reported, Cully Pratt’s gift to Stockton resembles a California flag, but instead of a bear, it features hooks to hold an AR-15 rifle above the words, “WILL NOT COMPLY.” The piece also shows 13 shotgun shells, arranged like the stars of the Betsy Ross flag and forming a circle around the Roman numeral III.

Cully Pratt’s Instagram account, where he once boasted more than 29,000 followers. is no longer available. His #3percent reference stems from the dubious historical claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the War of Independence, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

Open Vallejo said that Cully Pratt did not respond to a request for comment about his Three Percenter content. Solano County spokesperson Matthew Davis declined to comment on whether anyone in the county, including in the sheriff’s office, are active members of any anti-government militia.

When reached for a comment, Stockton told Open Vallejo that he “strongly condemned the violent and racist views of these extreme right, militia, and anti-government groups.”

He also said in an email: “I believe that law enforcement officers and other public officials cannot keep their oaths to uphold the Constitution if they are associated with any extremist or anti-government groups.”

The news about Cully Pratt’s apparent affinity for far-right ideology comes after his younger brother has long faced questions about whether he privately holds conservative political views, including whether he voted for Donald Trump.

Such questions have persisted because Chris Pratt won’t comment on his politics, even as his famously political in-laws, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, expressed strong anti-Trump views.

Open Vallejo reported that the mega-movie star has promoted his older brother’s wood carving business to his 30 million Instagram followers and appears to share his brother’s fondness for patriotic imagery.

In 2017, Cully Pratt took a selfie with Chris, flashing one of the coiled snake figures sold by Stockton. Chris Pratt also appeared at a Solano County sheriff’s fundraiser — a screening of “Jurassic World” — wearing a hat with the 13 stars of the Betsy Ross flag.

In July 2019, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star drew criticism when he was photographed, walking with his wife, wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” shirt. People said he was showcasing an image associated with groups such as the Tea Party and Second Amendment advocates, which express concern about government overreach. Others were more harsh in their criticism, accusing Pratt of wearing “a white supremacist dog whistle,”

Chris Pratt’s suspected politics and conservative religious beliefs have made him the red-hot focus of recurring debate about which movie star named Chris is Hollywood’s “worst Chris.” The debate heated up around the Nov. 3 presidential election with some of Pratt’s Marvel Cinematic Universe co-stars, including Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo, rushing to defend his reputation as a “good” person who tries to stay out of politics.

As Chris Pratt has been in the hot seat, his less famous brother and others in the Solano County Sheriff’s office have largely escaped consequences for openly expressing affinity for a far-right group, Open Vallejo reported.

Instead, “they have risen in the ranks of the sheriff’s office and have been trusted with high-profile public assignments,” Open Vallejo said.

In addition to serving as the department’s office public information officer up until recently, Cully Pratt has been lauded in Solano County for his support of philanthropic causes. A glowing 2018 CBN profile said Cully Pratt was Army veteran who shares his brother’s charisma and “incredible” artistic talent for woodworking. The profile also said he worked previously as a police officer in Pittsburg and Rio Vista.

With Stockton, Cully Pratt has run the nonprofit Solano Family First Responders. Pratt also has been known for getting Bay Area law enforcement luminaries and other high-profile figures, such as as his movie star brother, to attend gala fundraisers for his favorite organizations.

In September 2018, Chris Pratt served as the auctioneer at a gala in Napa Valley to raise awareness and money for The Leaven, a Fairfield faith-based nonprofit that Cully Pratt is involved with.

As it happens, Chris Pratt’s Napa Valley getaway that September was mostly notable because of photos posted on social media that showed Katherine Schwarzenegger, who was then his girlfriend, hanging out with Cully Pratt. Fans took the get-together as a sign that the actor and Schwarzenegger were getting serious.