An Indiana police department fired one of its newly-hired cops this weekend after antifascists linked the man to a post on Iron March, a defunct neo-Nazi forum that espoused racist, fascist, and anti-Semitic views.
“@LafayetteINPD— it looks like you just hired a Nazi,” Twitter user @AntiFashGordon said in a tweet to the Lafayette Police Department Friday after a separate Twitter account, @GhostsofPast, revealed what was described as a post from police recruit Joseph Zacharek.
“Meet #JosephZacharek, newest member of Indy PD,” Twitter user @GhostsofPast wrote, linking to the post. The user describes themselves as a “boring white Southern suburban housewife who likes to dox facists and racists.”
“Member of #IronMarch, the forum for #Neonazis and #WhiteSupremacists,” @GhostsofPast said in the tweet. “He is "fully" a Nazi ("NatSoc"), and regrets ‘previously fool[ing] himself into believing all races are equal.’ Huzzah on the new job!”
In the Iron March post, shared to Twitter via a website called “Iron March Exposed,” a person with the username “Panzerleiter” introduced themselves as a “23 year old American with mostly Eastern European ancestry plus a bit of Anglo.” The post was made in September 2016 to a forum that’s been linked to some of the world’s most dangerous neo-Nazi movements, including Atomwaffen, an organization associated with several killings.
“I'm nearly finished with an enlistment in the Army as a tank crewman,” Panzerleiter wrote at the time, adding later that they identified as “NatSoc,” referencing the largest neo-Nazi movement in the U.S.
When the Lafayette Police Department hired Zacharek in June, it noted in an announcement that he had “served in the US Army for 3 years as a Tank Crewman.” Additionally, the Panzerleiter account was registered to a Gmail address bearing Zacharek’s full name, according to Iron March Exposed. (A VICE News email to that account bounced back.) At one point, an Iron March user trying to add Panzerleiter to a group chat on a Polish messaging service asked the account, “Your name is Joseph Zacharek right?” to which Panzerleiter responded, “That’s right.”
In a news statement announcing Zacharek’s firing Saturday, Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly said the department’s internal affairs division determined Zacharek “did participate in this online forum and that the information that was provided to LPD was accurate and credible.” Flannelly further said that Zacharek admitted the comments were his, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, and that he never would’ve taken the recruit on if he’d known about the posts.
“I know the question everyone will have is, how does something like this get missed in a background investigation,” Flannelly told the Journal & Courier. “How is it possible and how do we prevent this from ever happening again? I’m not going to sugar-coat this. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. We missed it.”
“I would now say that I am fully NatSoc, and I'm especially interested in NatSoc economics as a way of throwing off the chains of usury and Jewish owned banking,” Zacharek wrote. “Basically, I joined because I want to engage in higher level fascist discourse than goes on in /pol/, and I want to be part of a community of likeminded people with the same or similar worldview. I look forward to the discussions here.”
Zacharek was still in training at the time of his firing and hadn’t had contact with the public as a uniformed officer, according to the Journal & Courier.
It was not immediately clear whether Zacharek had retained an attorney; a phone number for him was not publicly listed.
Data from the Iron March forum, which was active from 2011 to 2017, leaked last year, exposing more than 1,200 members, according to Bellingcat. Subsequently, VICE News found at least three members of the U.S. military were registered users, and that a since-fired captain of a privately-run ICE detention center used the site to make racist, white supremacist remarks.