By Associated Press - Tuesday, May 4, 2021

BEND, Ore. (AP) - A Bend Police Department officer will be investigated for wearing a keychain with a phrase that has been connected to a far-right group while in uniform on Saturday.

Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz did not identify the employee, though Cpl. Josh Spano is the officer seen in a photograph circulating on social media, The Bulletin reported. Attached to the front of Spano’s service vest is an item reading “molon labe” in Greek lettering, a phrase associated with anti-government militia group Three Percenters.

Spano, 35, told The Bulletin he wears the keychain to honor the oath of enlistment he took when he joined the military, and other soldiers. He also denied being part of the Three Percenters or any anti-government group.

“I support none of it,” he said.

Spano was hired by the Medford Police Department in 2008, according to Oregon police records. In 2015, he transferred to the Bend Police Department and was promoted to corporal in 2019.

He is a former Army medic who served in combat in Iraq.

The Ancient Greek phrase “molon labe,” meaning “come and take them,” is often attributed to the Spartan King Leonidas when the Persian King called on the Spartan soldiers to lay down their arms. It has more recently been co-opted by pro-gun and extremist anti-government groups.

Krantz said ideologies that advocate for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government do not fall within the range of acceptable political beliefs an officer may hold.

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