North Miami Beach Cop Gets Desk Duty for Spreading Parkland Conspiracy Theories

North Miami Beach Cop Gets Desk Duty for Spreading Parkland Conspiracy Theories
WeAreChange.org / YouTube

In the past week, South Floridian Ericson Harrell has shared memes claiming that fluoride is dangerous to human beings, that 9/11 might have been orchestrated by the U.S. government, that trusting the government is "a form of mental illness," and that the Parkland shooting survivors are "paid actors" who helped the feds stage a false-flag attack in February.

Because this is Florida, Harrell also happens to be a North Miami Beach Police officer, which means he is the government he apparently despises.

Harrell has gotten in trouble in the past for spouting some pretty far-out views (he was arrested in 2013 for refusing to take off a Guy Fawkes "Anonymous" mask during an anti-Obamacare protest), but his Parkland rants have landed him in serious hot water. After reporters noted over the weekend that Harrell wrote on March 22 that the Parkland survivors were "ALL PAID ACTORS / ACTRESSES," North Miami Beach PD announced this afternoon via Twitter that the cop had been removed from the street and assigned to desk duty pending an investigation.

According to Harrell's recent social media posts, he seems to be handling the investigation in characteristic form. He posted yesterday afternoon that he plans to continue fighting for his right to be a cop and a conspiracy theorist at the same time:
As the Miami Herald noted this morning, Harrell's stance on the Parkland tragedy is doubly stupid because Harrell himself spent a year training in the same police academy as Jeff Kasky, the father of Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky.

"This guy knows me personally," the elder Kasky told the Herald. "How can he possibly think that this is true?"

Harrell has somehow remained a cop despite spouting a litany of seemingly insane conspiracy theories online and in person. In 2013, he was arrested in Plantation while participating in an off-duty, anti-Obamacare protest. He was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at the time, but when a Plantation Police officer asked him to remove it, Harrell refused and was arrested for violating a 1950s-era statute banning mask-wearing in public. After a multiyear internal review, North Miami Beach Police found in 2015 that Harrell had violated departmental policies, and recommended suspending him for 20 days, according to the Sun Sentinel.

It appears that ordeal did little to rein in Harrell. Though police officers are typically barred or severely discouraged from making political statements online, Harrell's Facebook page is littered with far-right, Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories, including claims the Federal Reserve might be tied to some sort of "New World Order" or Illuminati-style group. For some reason, he often refers to himself online as "The Penitent Cop."
"TBT: Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, conspiracy theorists appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events," Harrell wrote at the end of last month.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.