Category Archives: Anti-government

Solano County Sheriff refuses to share FBI report clearing deputies

Community Group Slams Sheriff For Lack Of Transparency, 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.”

Open letter to City and County officials – Benicia Black Lives Matter, on right-wing extremism in Sheriff Dept.

Solano County Board of Supervisors:
Erin Hannigan:
Monica Brown:
Jim Spering:
John Vazquez:
Mitch Mashburn:
Solano County Sheriff:
Thomas A. Ferrara
530 Union Avenue, Suite 100
Fairfield, CA 94533

City of Benicia Mayor & Council:
Steve Young:
Tom Campbell:
Lionel Largaespada:
Trevor Macenski:
Christina Strawbridge:
City of Benicia City Manager:
Eric Upson:

Dear Supervisors, Councilmembers and Governmental Leaders of the County of Solano and the City of Benicia:

We, the members of Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM), are writing you in response to a terrifying report from Open Vallejo detailing the existence and tacit support of right wing extremism within the leadership of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the underwhelming response from the Sheriff himself.

The report explains that Daniel “Cully” Pratt is in a leadership role within the Sheriff’s department carrying the designation of Sergeant. As part of his side business, Sergeant Pratt is also an ardent supporter of the 3%’er movement, making and sharing “wood carvings” with right wing iconography, one of which “resembles a California flag, but instead of a bear, it features hooks for (Solano County Sheriff Sergeant) Stockton’s AR-15 rifle above the words, ‘WILL NOT COMPLY.’ Thirteen shotgun shells, arranged like the stars of the Betsy Ross flag, form a circle around the Roman numeral III.”

In itself, this is incredibly troubling. Just weeks ago, on January 6, 2021, right wing extremists, approximately a quarter of whom had law enforcement and/or military backgrounds, attacked the United States Capitol. In October 2020, an anti-government group and others plotted to attack the Governor of Michigan. The 7 suspects were arrested for plotting to storm Michigan’s State Capitol and abducting the governor, prior to the presidential election, in a seeming practice run for the US Capitol attack. The parallel between these attacks is not inconsequential. It has been widely reported for some time that right wing and white supremacist groups have actively recruited from the ranks of the military and law enforcement.

From the Brennan Center Report titled Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement:

In 2017, the FBI reported that white supremacists posed a “persistent threat of lethal violence” that has produced more fatalities than any other category of domestic terrorists since 2000. Alarmingly, internal FBI policy documents have also warned agents assigned to domestic terrorism cases that the white supremacist and anti-government militia groups they[1].

More stark than the Open Vallejo report, is the response from the Solano County Sheriff[2]:

… I want to be clear – the employees targeted in this article all serve this agency and this community with passion and dedication. I am not aware of one instance where any of these employees acted in a manner that was portrayed in this article. When we initially got inquiries about this story, I had personal conversations with the employees in question because it is important to me that the women and men who work for Solano County Sheriff’s Office are people of character and uphold the high standards I have set for this Office. The employees told me that their intention was to support the 2nd amendment and the U.S. Constitution. As we have seen with many other symbols, the “Three Percenter” logo has recently been linked to the rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol. None of these employees were present for, nor do they support extremist organizations. Our office denounces any extremist organization.  And if there is ever a time when a member of our office is displaying support to overthrow the government it will be dealt with swiftly. …

Sergeant Pratt has also denied his membership in anti-government organizations saying that, “The picture taken in October 2016, linked to said article depicts symbols, at the time was believed to be strictly in support of the 2nd Amendment and Pro-American – not in any way extremist anti-government views.”

This seems inconceivable, as a quick Google search would reveal to the Sergeant that:

A wing of the militia movement that arose as part of a resurgence of the militia movement in 2009. The term “Three Percenter” refers to the erroneous belief that only 3% of colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War—but achieved liberty for everybody. Three Percenters view themselves as modern day versions of those revolutionaries, fighting against a tyrannical U.S. government rather than the British. With anyone able to declare themselves a Three Percenter, the concept allowed many people to join who were not suited, physically or by inclination, to engage in paramilitary activities. The Three Percenter logo—the Roman numeral III—has become very popular among anti-government extremists[3].

As members of BBLM and residents of Benicia and Solano County, we are writing to you to demand that you as leaders of Solano County and City of Benicia not only visibly and vocally condemn right wing extremism, but also pledge to conduct a full investigation both at the County level and at the City level to ensure that policies and procedures – including those focused on recruitment anddisciplinary actions – are in place to actively expel these extremists from the ranks of law enforcement and to prevent their recruitment in the first place.

We further demand Solano County follow both the City of Benicia and Sonoma County in establishing an Office of Equity to solidify the county’s commitment to equity and the eradication of racist ideallogy.

This report is as ironic as it is offensive given that Black Lives Matter chapters have been labeled as terrorists. Months ago,, in August 2020,  we successfully advocated before our City Council to take measures to take the work of equity seriously. We were mostly greeted with support but we also faced some opposition. One council member took umbrage with language in the resolution that highlighted the culpability of the entire Minnesota Police Department in the death of George Floyd, despite elected officials in Minnesota making a similar declaration. Other opposition came via a joint statement from the Benicia Police Officers Association, Benicia Dispatcher’s Association and the Benicia Police Management Association. The relevant part is as follows:

“…we ask that before making a commitment to Black Lives Matter, an organization that at its core is an anti-police organization that promotes the defunding of police departments, you consider a commitment to your community and your employees.”

While this commentary from the police associations was not indicative of the tremendous community support we received, it was reminiscent of a vocal minority of individuals who would prefer to question our lived experiences than to confront the past and current systemic racism that so deeply infects our nation.

We would hope that in these perilous times, where it is beyond dispute that the threat of right wing anti-government violence is far more likely to come from white men confusing their misguided actions and ideology for patriotism, that our government leaders and the associations within them would boldly decry, reject and eliminate these factions from their ranks.

If the Sheriff’s response is any indication, there is much work to be done. We demand and expect better. We await a reply and more importantly – bold and sustained action to be taken.


Thank you,

Benicia Black Lives Matter

[1] Id.