When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Maya Angelou

S. E. Williams

When news broke last week about Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco’s connections to the far-right militia organization and extremist group the Oath Keepers, it removed the thin veil lending unearned legitimacy to a sheriff whose actions had already revealed the truth of who he is.

So now, the emperor has no clothes. What an unsurprising surprise.

And of course, Bianco set about right away—in true Trump-ish style—to spin it, using typical disinformation right wing tactics of un-denial, denials. “I don’t remember joining,” he claims (he joined in 2014 the same year he ran for office the first time). “It was only for a short period,” he offers. “It did not offer me anything,” he opines.  

All said in obvious attempts to blow smoke in the faces of those who might want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He even went so far as to wrap himself in the cowardly blanket of “other law enforcement officers joined too,” as if such a whiny ‘they did it too’ acknowledgement washed him clean from the stench of his racist and extremist ideology. 

Such weak excuses only serve to validate what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about, what the need for police reform is all about—that our law enforcement agencies are ripe with those who share a “White Supremacist” mindset, like Chad Bianco.

And as Bianco blows smoke for some, he simultaneously gives a wink and  a nod to the Oath Keepers and others in the “brotherhood of hate” who share their mindset—they work to “protect the constitution,” he claims trying to convince people these hate groups are engaged in some altruistic mission.  

That may be what he wants people to believe but what we know instead, this group–the Oath Keepers– has a mantra of “We will not obey…” This is part of their oath. We won’t “just follow orders,” they declare.

“We will not obey,” is part of the Oath Keepers’ mantra. (source: splc.org)

This is something Bianco has shown us consistently over the previous two years. He refused to release people from jail as the pandemic raged—it took a court order for him to treat those locked in his care with humanity; he refused to enforce mask mandates; he defied requirements for vaccines.

He challenged and resisted one effort after another to control the virus all the while basking in the media attention especially in the right-wing media world of Fox News and others. He is also a frequent guest on the  local podcast of right-wing extremist minister Tim Thompson of Murietta’s Our Watch podcast where he has made a number of appearances including on the day the Oath Keepers’ joined the January 6 attack on Congress and the United States.

There is a flyer announcing the event and here is a link to the episode so you can hear his babble for yourself. You will have an opportunity to hear with your own ears how he likened what he referred to as the illegality of enforcing the COVID orders as being similar to what it would be like if Newsom issued an order telling him to lock in all African Americans. What!?! Yes. He really used that as an example. If you don’t believe me click on the link above and listen for yourself. 

According to the Our Watch website, Chad Bianco was the featured guest on the evening of January 6, 2021. (source: ourwatchnow.com)

You will notice he is dressed in his uniform even though he is participating in a combined political/religious activity in direct violation of California Code 3206 which states explicitly, “No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.”

It also violates the federal Hatch Act which restricts federal, state, or local agencies and those who work in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants from involvement in partisan political activity.

And yet, this is his modus operandi. Here he is again, at The East Valley Republican Women Federated (EVRWF)’s monthly luncheon earlier this year, another political event where he appeared and spoke in full sheriff attire.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco at the East Valley Republican Women Federated (EVRWF)’s monthly luncheon earlier this year. (source: twitter.com)

He flaunts his belligerent behavior and then enjoys how his extremist fans fawn over him just as Thompson and those in attendance did during his January 6 appearance on Our Watch demonstrated.

Yes, he has offered feeble  and withering explanations for his connection to the Oath Keepers and despite the organization’s alleged, egregious, and overt acts of sedition  against the U.S. government on January 6—Bianco has remained silent, offered no criticism, no rebuke, no denunciation for their obvious role in what occurred.

His silence speaks volumes. You cannot have it both ways, Mr. Bianco. You are not smart enough, astute enough, finessed enough to pull that off. You can’t claim to be for law and order yet remain silent on the most illegal act against the government and its constitution since the Civil War.

Taking a knee at a Black Lives Matter March last year and posing with a peach cobbler, a sweet potato pie and a Black Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy does not earn Bianco a pass. We have watched him and his sheriff union benefactors and other like-minded people with the power to make a difference continue poisoning the environment against any movement toward change in policing—speaking and pushing against every effort aimed at building bridges for justice by building equity in policing.

Sheriff Chad Bianco taking a knee during protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. And posing with a peach cobbler, sweet potato pie and a Riverside County Sheriff Deputy. (social media)

“Everyday we are having our freedoms taken away from us,” he told Thompson during the January 6 podcast. These comments were made even as Thompson’s commentary on the events of the day and added comments about the questionable outcome of the election—perpetuated the Big Lie.

Bianco’s link to the Oath Keepers and extremists like Thompson and others however, is just the icing on his cake.

Bianco may be the law, but he is not above the law. It is time he be held accountable for his actions.

It is time for the Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin to do his job. But knowing Hestrin, that may be too much to ask. We can only hope the appeal made to the  California Attorney General on September 16 by  the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Starting Over Inc., and Riverside All of Us or None will be a first step toward reigning in Bianco’s out of control behavior and go a long way to ultimately seeing him removed from office.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager...

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