A Chapel Hill police officer has been put on paid leave following questions about a tattoo on his forearm of the Roman numeral three encircled with stars.
“The pervasiveness of the concerns raised by many regarding his display of a tattoo that is associated with the ‘3 Percenters’ has caused the Department to question his ability to function effectively as a police officer within this community,” Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement.
The Three Percenters is an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “antigovernment.” It has dozens of chapters nationwide and describes its goal as “to utilize the fail-safes put in place by our founders to reign (sic) in an overreaching government and push back against tyranny.”
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The group eschews the labels “antigovernment” and “militia,” instead characterizing its members as “America’s insurance policy.” Members frequently show up in military-style gear at rallies with other far-right groups, such as Patriot Prayer events in Portland, Oregon; the Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia; and a standoff with the federal government over a rancher’s grazing fees in Bunkerville, Nevada.
The Chapel Hill police officer’s tattoo closely resembles the Three Percenters’ logo. His forearm also features a tattoo of the words “We the People” in the font of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. That tattoo is popular among members of the patriot movement, a loose network of people in favor of unfettered gun rights and small government that grew out of the militia movement of the 1990s.