Vice President Mike Pence arrived at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just after noon on Friday. He was greeted by a Broward Sheriff's Office SWAT team that included one cop in a #QAnon conspiracy-theory patch. #QAnon is, of course, the batshit-insane, 4Chan-based conspiracy theory that claims Donald Trump is secretly fighting a war with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to capture a secret, elite pedophile ring that includes prominent celebrities and Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The theory seems to have come from a group of online con-artists, according to one NBC News investigation.
So it's definitely troubling that an armed BSO SWAT officer hung out with the vice president while wearing a QAnon patch. Jared Holt, a reporter with RightWingWatch, first noticed the photo, which Pence tweeted from his official account. Holt was able to find the same patch for sale on Amazon. The patch says "Question the Narrative."
Today, Mike Pence posted a photo on Twitter with a Flordia law enforcement officer wearing a QAnon patch for sale on Amazon pic.twitter.com/vnOkk1l5Ee— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) November 30, 2018
The sheriff's office provides security at the airport, and the cops in question can be seen wearing BSO patches. The man's nametag in the photograph identifies him as BSO Sgt. Matt Patten.
A spokesperson for BSO, Veda Coleman-Wright, told New Times via email that the department did not know that Patten was wearing the patch when meeting the Vice President.
"The patch is not authorized by BSO," she said. "This matter will be addressed immediately."
Patten has reportedly been cited for "excellence" in "anti-terrorism, training, and civic education" in the past:
There are serious questions about whether a cop should be able to keep his or her job after professing belief in a theory like QAnon. Simply put: QAnon is painfully stupid. The theory is based around an anonymous 4Chan user who claims to have top-level government security clearances. The poster has never provided evidence to prove this. There is instead evidence that the "QAnon" 4Chan account has been used by multiple people.
The QAnon account posts rambling, nonsensical, near-free-association-style posts, which users then cherry-pick in order to prove their individual points. Here's a sample image:
There's also a fairly plausible theory that the entire QAnon conspiracy is a Leftist/Antifa-generated con designed to fool gullible people online. One of the QAnon community's major slogans, "Where we go one, we go all," originated in the 1996 disaster action-film White Squall.
Earlier this year, a team of investigative reporters at NBC News tracked the first few QAnon posts back to a small group of three online theorists who all but certainly took anonymous "joke" posts on 4Chan and amplified them into a full-fledged conspiracy. Some of these theorists appear to have accidentally filmed themselves logging into anonymous "Q" accounts that, according to the conspiracy, were supposed to be controlled by secret government operatives.
There's also a frightening link between QAnon, online conspiracies, and violence: A believer in Pizzagate, a similarly insane theory alleging that high-level Democrats were raping children in a D.C. pizza shop, resulted in one man storming into D.C.'s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria and firing bullets into the floor to expose the allegedly secret child-trafficking tunnels that Pizzagate believers claimed were underneath. No tunnels exist.
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More to the point: In September, Reddit banned a stream of QAnon-related threads because conspiracy believers kept posting violent threats inside the Subreddits. Users repeatedly threatened to murder Hillary Clinton.
Pence is in town this weekend to attend a conference for the Israeli-American Council, a pro-Israel group that has taken significant contributions from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. In addition to Pence, Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis is scheduled to speak, as are multiple high-level Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Unfortunately, this is not the first South Florida cop caught spreading online conspiracies. Earlier this year, a North Miami Beach Police officer, Ericson Harrell, was taken off the street after he posted online that he thought the survivors of the Parkland school massacre were "crisis-actors." They're not.
This is a breaking story. This post will be updated.