Va. Capitol Police sergeant placed on leave hours after activists allege ‘affinity with white nationalist groups’

    On Tuesday night, a Richmond-based activist group called Antifa Seven Hills began alleging a Capitol Police sergeant showed an “affinity with white nationalist groups” in his social media postings.

    On Wednesday morning, the Capitol Police sent out a press release saying the officer, Robert Stamm, has been placed on paid administrative leave after they were “made aware early Wednesday of possible violations of division policy.”

    A spokesman declined to say what policy the division believes Stamm might have violated and said the department would not comment further.

    “There is a review policy in place, and we will follow that policy,” said Col. Anthony S. Pike, the division’s chief, in a statement.

    Efforts to reach Stamm were not immediately successful. His Facebook page remains online, including profile pictures of himself he posted tagged with the logo of the Asatru Folk Assembly, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a “Neo-Volkisch hate group.”

    According to the SPLC:

    Neo-Völkisch adherents worship the Norse or Germanic gods, spirituality premised on the survival of white Europeans and the preservation of dead or dying cultures they presume to embody. Such individuals and groups use a variety of terms to describe their spirituality such as Odinism or Wotanism, Odalism, heathenism, Ásatrú or even paganism. Qualifiers like “Germanic” or “proto-Germanic” are sometimes attached to those terms. Other qualifiers like “Norse tradition” might also be used.

    These myriad categorizations can be confusing, as not all heathens are bigoted, and some actively distance their religion from neo-Völkisch dogma. Neo-Völkisch groups who comport themselves around notions of racial and cultural essentialism, however, generally identify themselves as “Folkish” or “Folk”-rooted. This designation signals their cherishing of ethnocentrism in a manner that promotes ethnic exclusivity, at the very least, and can even promote racial supremacy.

    The activist group also pointed to photos with other flags and imagery that has been co-opted or adopted by white nationalist and far right groups.

    In 2015, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, reporting on a prison killing involving Asatru, wrote that  there were 350 inmates “who report themselves as members of Asatru/Odinism in state prisons,” citing the Virginia Department of Corrections.

    That same year, the FBI said it thwarted a plot by white supremacists looking to ignite a race war, WTVR reported. The suspects ascribed to “a white supremacist version of the Asatru faith.”

    Stephen A. McNallen, founder and head of the Asatru Folk Assembly, told the Times-Dispatch in 2015 that “his Asatru members are not white supremacists, and they certainly do not condone murder,” the paper wrote.

    McNallen said the Chesterfield men involved in the plot were never members of the Asatru Folk Assembly, nor did they attempt to contact the organization.