A veteran police officer in Illinois resigned Tuesday after researchers connected him to a deluge of violent and bigoted social media posts that glorified Adolf Hitler and hate crimes.
The resignation of Springfield Police Department Officer Aaron Paul Nichols, 46, came shortly after his department announced an investigation into the posts, first surfaced by Anonymous Comrades Collective (ACC), a group of anti-fascist researchers.
“If I found a genie and I had one wish? The Jews would be a distant memory in 72 hours,” one of the posts allegedly written by Nichols reads.
The Springfield Police Department said on Friday that it had launched an investigation into Nichols’ “racist comments,” and that his “police powers had been removed.” On Tuesday, the department told HuffPost in a statement that Nichols, who joined the department in 2004, resigned instead of meeting with investigators.
“The Springfield Police Department is committed to a complete and thorough investigation into the comments and actions of Aaron Nichols, regardless of his resignation,” the statement said.
This latest revelation comes amid growing concern by the FBI that law enforcement has been infiltrated by white supremacists.
Nichols did not respond to repeated requests for comment from HuffPost.
An Avalanche Of Hate
Nichols was first identified last Thursday by ACC, the group of researchers that tracks down white supremacists and neo-Nazis. The group previously helped HuffPost in its report first identifying Andrew Casarez, the leader of a Dylann Roof-worshipping neo-Nazi group.
Nichols left a trail of breadcrumbs leading to his unmasking, including sharing details about his family, his time in the police force and his location. Several racist posts on Twitter under the account name “SPD584” were traced to a Periscope account with the same handle, and which included his full legal name. Researchers were able to connect the Twitter account to an account on the far-right social media website Gab with the same name. On Gab, where extremism and hate speech proliferate, Nichols shared a photo of his partially obscured face in one of his anonymous posts.
“When I seize power, ‘hate crimes’ will be encouraged,” the Gab account researchers connected to Nichols said.
Many of Nichols’ alleged posts discuss killing Black and Jewish people, the same people he had sworn to protect for nearly two decades. (Note: Several of the quoted posts include uncensored racial slurs.)
“I have metal stamps. I think I’ll just stamp 14/88 into every nigger quarter I get,” another of the Gab posts read. “Easy.”
The number 14 refers to a white supremacist slogan, and 88 refers to “HH,” or “Heil Hitler.”
“Niggers ruin everything,” another post read. “Even if it’s White doing the stealing they’re likely selling the meat to blaq [sic] run restaurants or trading it to niggers for dope. Real talk.”
Springfield, the capital city of Illinois, has a population of approximately 115,000 people, and SPD has just over 200 officers on its police force. Black citizens represent 20% of the population, according to the 2020 Census.
Along with Black people, posts connected to Nichols also expressed a deep hatred for Jews.
“I’ll say it in English. I am a supporter of as many holocausts as it takes to cleanse this world of talmudic influence,” a post that has been archived read.
Another post said “Hitler did nothing wrong,” and another discussed how the user told a neighbor at a Christmas party that he didn’t believe the Holocaust happened.
Members of the Illinois legislature wrote a letter Monday calling for an independent investigation into Nichols.
“It would be disturbing enough to know someone with these views was living in your community,” the letter said. “But to learn that such a person is exercising authority over the very people he declares his hatred for is terrifying.”
In one post connected to Nichols last year, the user expressed pride at being a cop.
“I despise the government and have for nearly 3 decades,” the post read. “The best place I can possibly be is inside the beast. I’ve done a lot of good in my careers.”