Mayor Bill de Blasio promised Thursday a “full investigation” into reports that the names of several active NYPD officers were found on an email list belonging to the right-wing Oath Keepers, a militia group tied to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
WNYC/Gothamist reported Thursday that the email list had been released by a nonprofit group known as Distributed Denial of Secrets which releases leaked information to members of the press. A review of the list found several NYPD officers “whose names matched information listed in the hacked records,” though it could not be confirmed if the officers were still active.
The Oath Keepers, known for advancing an anti-government agenda, were among the toxic brew of militias, white supremacists and angry Trump supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting the Congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election results. The violence that ensued left five people, including a Capitol police officer, dead — and marked the first disruption of a peaceful transfer of power in American history.
So far, 18 Oath Keepers have been arrested in the ongoing investigation into the attack. Overall, more than 175 New York city and state residents connected to the insurrection, including at least one retired NYPD member, have been charged.
During his daily press briefing Thursday, de Blasio condemned those who participate in organizations seeking to overthrow the government, and vowed that any NYPD officers connected to such groups would be weeded out and punished.
“Look, organizations that supported the insurrection on Jan. 6 in Washington, organizations that are trying to destroy our democratic freedoms undermine our nation, undermine our people – that’s very, very troubling to me that anyone would want to be a part of that, and we need a full investigation,” de Blasio said. “If it’s the kind of thing that would disqualify [officers] from serving – as you see in the [NYPD] discipline matrix, there are very, very clear penalties for that kind of activity.”
Pressed if the report warranted an even deeper investigation into alleged ties between NYPD members and anti-government groups, however, de Blasio cautioned against such a probe.
“I’d be a little careful because the notion of looking at an organization with 35,000 uniform officers and 15,000, I think, plus civilians and sort of a broad gauge investigation of everyone? Something I hear that immediately is troubling to me,” the mayor said. “Some people know my parents had really bad experiences during the McCarthy era when you know, people were being questioned for anything and everything. I think a part of who we are as Americans is to be really, really careful how we cast aspersions and how we use the power of government to investigate.”
Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes said that the NYPD would thoroughly investigate any allegation of an officer or member being affiliated with an anti-government group, and hold them to account.
“Initially, when an officer’s hired for the NYPD, the applicant processing division does a very thorough investigation on any of our applicants that chooses to join the department,” she said. “I really truly believe anytime we get any information, just like we get with other individuals whether it’s related to terrorism, things of that nature, intel, we follow the lead.”
With reporting by Morgan C. Mullings