Banner on sheriff’s wall raises concerns from Anti-Defamation League

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:10 PM EST
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - What is the meaning of a banner hanging behind Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli in a recent interview? Carpinelli says it’s a gift from a friend, but one anti-hate group says it appears to be tied to an antigovernment ideology.

Last week, we interviewed Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli about snowmobile safety. Behind him is a banner with an eagle and a half circle containing the Roman numeral III. It’s surrounded by stars.

Senior researcher Mark Pitcavage from a civil rights group called the Anti-Defamation League says it looks similar to the logo for the Three Percenters.

“It looks like it may have been homemade, rather than one that was manufactured and sold over the internet. But it did contain the Three Percenters symbol,” said Pitcavage.

The ADL describes Three Percenters as “antigovernment extremists who are part of the militia movement.”

Pitcavage says the Three Percenters concept isn’t a group, but rather an ideology, and followers of it can make their own groups.

Some Three Percenters have been charged with high-profile crimes, including involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot, and a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

But Carpinelli says the banner in his office isn’t a Three Percenters logo.

He says it’s memorabilia from a veteran and friend, and the Roman numeral III refers to a military patch dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Pitcavage says the Three Percenters concept is based on a false claim that only 3 percent of patriots won liberty for Americans against the British during the Revolutionary War and that’s how Three Percenters see themselves.

“Sort of a modern 3 percent like the revolutionaries who are working to fight for liberty, only that’s primarily fighting against their own government,” said Pitcavage.

Carpinelli, who launched a bid in 2020 to be New York’s next governor, also appears tied to what the ADL describes as two antigovernment extremist groups.

He has received an award from the Oath Keepers and has spoken at multiple Constitutional Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association gatherings.

That group’s website states, “America needs to make a strong turn around” and “the office of the county sheriff is the last hope of making this happen.”

Pitcavage calls it a problematic organization, one that tells sheriffs they can thwart federal law.

“That they can prevent any federal law from being enforced in a particular county. That they can kick federal agents out of the county,” said Pitcavage.

Carpinelli declined doing an on-camera interview Monday, but did speak with us over the phone. He doesn’t deny affiliation with the Oath Keepers and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and adds all of this is coming out now because some people are angry his candidacy for governor is gaining ground.

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