- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2019

Robert Stamm, a Virginia police sergeant assigned to monitor recent protests near the residence of Gov. Ralph Northam, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday after activists accused him of having “explicit, overt ties” to a white nationalist organization.

“The Virginia Division of Capitol Police was made aware early Wednesday of a possible violation of division policy by one of its sergeants,” the law enforcement agency said in a news release. “As a result, Sgt. Robert A. Stamm has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of a review by the division.”

“There is a review policy in place, and we will follow that policy,” said Col. Anthony S. Pike, the division’s chief.

Mr. Stamm’s suspension was announced shortly following the publication of an online report that claimed to document the sergeant’s connection to a “white nationalist pagan organization,” Asatru Folk Assembly, or AFA, as well as an alleged “affinity for imagery, tattoos and Facebook pages associated with nazis and white supremacists.”

Published by Antifascist of the Seven Hills, a Richmond-based coalition of self-described “communists and anarchists united in militant opposition,” the report cited multiple social media posts that seemingly linked the sergeant to AFA, a fringe religious organization labeled a “hate group” by several scholars and civil rights advocates.

Mr. Stamm is “friends with a number of people who claim to be associated with the group Asatru,” the activists wrote, and last month he “added a profile photo of himself with the Asatru Folk Assembly logo overlaid on it, aligning himself explicitly with the movement.”

Social media posts suggested that Mr. Stamm had a tattoo on his neck that resembled the “wolfsangel,” a symbol made infamous by German Nazis, prior to covering it in 2012, in addition to at least two other designs the activists described as being associated with white supremacy. He also posted photographs that showed him lifting weights in a room decorated with various flags, including one bearing a German nationalist design from the 1940s adopted by far-right activists in recent years, according to images included in the report.

Mr. Stamm, 36, declined to comment when reached Wednesday evening, The New York Times reported. A police official confirmed that the sergeant had been assigned to patrol at least two recent protests staged in Richmond, the Virginia state capital, by activists demanding Mr. Northam’s resignation in the wake of a racist photograph from his college yearbook surfacing last week, the newspaper reported.

Dedicated to “the survival and welfare of the Ethnic European Folk as a cultural and biological group,” according to its website, AFA was founded in 1994 by Stephen McNallen, a Pagan community leader who participated in the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally attended by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“At this point, with decades of history and documentation, it is difficult to see the AFA as anything other than a hate group on the extreme fringe of Heathenry,” Karl E.H. Seigfried, a Norse mythologist and president of interfaith dialogue at the University of Chicago, told The Star-Tribune in 2016.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights watchdog group, has previously labeled AFA the country’s “largest neo-Volkïsh hate group.”

“The Asatru Folk Assembly does not give out the names of our church membership,” AFA leader Matthew Flavel told HuffPost, the outlet reported. “The Asatru Folk Assembly would be deeply saddened were this officer to be persecuted based on his religious preference of baseless assumptions about his free associations,” he said.

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