Update, Jan. 9: Following our report, the Oakland Police Department opened an investigation of OPD officers involved in social media accounts with “objectionable or offensive” content. “Whether on or off duty, employees of OPD are prohibited from affiliating with subversive groups,” their press release states.
This story was also updated on Jan. 8 to include information about Snyder’s involvement in two fatal police shootings in 2007 and 2013.
Sacramento resident Jurell Snyder worked at the Oakland Police Department from 2006 to 2015, and currently heads a company called Crime Analytica, which, according to Snyder’s LinkedIn account, has carried out “special projects” for the FBI and California’s prison system.
But yesterday, Snyder wasn’t working on the side of law enforcement. Instead, he was storming the U.S. Capitol in D.C., a member of a mob of pro-Trump extremists attempting to disrupt democratic processes.
Snyder gave an interview to KPIX explaining why he took part. He repeated baseless claims about election fraud and called Democrats “communists” who should be criminally charged with treason. In a post on his Facebook page after his TV appearance, Snyder added that he believes “Antifa” was responsible for the mob’s actions.
“Antifa” refers to anti-fascist protesters, but for many Trump supporters, the term has come to symbolize a poorly defined threat of left-wing violence.
A review of Snyder’s social media, including his personal Facebook page and a second Facebook page he runs titled “Eat Pray Kill,” turns up numerous videos and posts he’s authored that center on pro-Trump conspiracy theories and references to extremist “boogaloo” ideology, which advocates for inciting a civil war.
And as we’ll outline below, some of Snyder’s recent Facebook posts about the storming of the Capitol have received “likes” and supportive comments from current and former Oakland police officers.
In June, Snyder posted to his “Eat Pray Kill” Facebook page an image of a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt—a popular symbol of boogaloo ideology—holding an assault rifle. Above the image, Snyder wrote “Boog Boog!” and “#WWG1WGA,” a reference to the QAnon conspiracy motto “where we go one, we go all.”
In November, he posted a video of a man dressed in a boogaloo-style shirt, brandishing an assault rifle and handgun. Snyder wrote above the post “One of my brothers,” and below it, “I’d go to war with you battle buddy.”
The boogaloo movement includes a wide array of people with extremist ideas about overthrowing the government. Last year in Oakland, a Federal Protective Service officer, David Patrick Underwood, was murdered in a drive-by shooting at Oakland’s federal building by two men with links to the boogaloo movement. Six men indicted last year in a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer were reportedly inspired by boogaloo ideology. Law enforcement agencies consider the movement a violent, extremist threat to public safety.
Last year, we reported on the history of the Bay Area’s original “boogaloos,” pioneers of a local dance style who are fighting to preserve their history after the extremist alt-right movement appropriates their name.
The Oakland Police Department issued a statement this afternoon upon learning of Snyder’s involvement in the attack on the Capitol and his interview with KPIX: “The statements made by the former employee were reprehensible and we wholly disavow his remarks. This former employee was separated from his employment with the City of Oakland nearly six years ago. We want to assure our community that those statements offend the morals and ethics of the women and men of our Department.”
On Friday, the Oakland Police Department confirmed with The Oaklandside that Snyder was involved in two fatal shootings when he was employed as a police officer.
On May 29, 2013, Snyder was assigned to OPD’s Crime Reduction Team, a specialized unit that focuses on violent crimes, when he and several other officers attempted a vehicle stop on 77th Avenue. According to an OPD press release, three people fled from the car, including a man named Bernard Peters. According to OPD records, Peters “fell, turned and pointed a firearm” at Snyder. Snyder shot and killed him.
Snyder and another officer fatally shot a 26-year-old Oakland man named Valvatin Villa while on duty on December 21, 2007 during a vehicle stop near the intersection of Ritchie and Ney. The officers said Villa tried to pull a firearm on them.
Current and retired OPD officers express interest in Snyder’s posts online
In a press release today, the Oakland Police Department said that if a current police employee made statements similar to Snyder’s, “they would be grounds for immediate initiation of a disciplinary investigation and could lead to termination.”
The Oakland Police Officers Association, which represents the city’s officers, wrote on its Facebook page yesterday that the “violent breach of the U.S. Capitol Building is reprehensible and belies the values and traditions upon which this country was built.”
Several current OPD officers liked Snyder’s recent posts about the mob takeover of the Capitol.
Abel Alcantar, a current Oakland police officer according to city records and Alcantar’s Facebook page, liked and commented on one of Snyder’s posts claiming that Antifa “set up” Trump supporters to clash with cops. Alcantar wrote “interesting” below Snyder’s post. Alcantar didn’t immediately reply to questions sent through Facebook messenger.
There is no evidence that anyone but pro-Trump supporters organized and participated in yesterday’s riots.
OPD officer Cynthia Espinoza liked a Facebook post Snyder wrote yesterday claiming that Antifa was to blame for the mob takeover of the Capitol. Espinoza liked two other posts by Snyder claiming that facial recognition software was used to identify “Antifa” in the mob. She did not reply to messages sent through Facebook.
Another OPD officer, Brian Hernandez, liked a video that Snyder posted to Facebook two days ago. In the video, Snyder accuses Democrats of not counting Trump ballots in battleground states and delivering “truckloads of fraudulent ballots” for Biden. “If this situation is not unfucked, then the Hawaiian shirts will be coming out,” Snyder says at the end of the video. “You will see us on the steps of [statehouses] by the thousands and legally protesting at the homes of politicians who let this happen.”
In September, an undercover OPD officer was photographed wearing a Hawaiian shirt while working. OPD interim Chief Susan Manheimer dismissed complaints made by several members of the public, saying the officer was unaware of the shirt’s symbolic meaning to far-right extremists.
Several retired OPD officers have liked and commented on Snyder’s posts defending violence against Black Lives Matter protesters.
A September 23 post by Snyder calling for the release of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot three people during a Kenosha, Wisconsin protest in August, was liked by Jack Kelly, a former OPD officer who was fired by Oakland for falsifying warrants. Kelly later worked as a University of California police officer until 2018. According to Kelly’s LinkedIn page, he worked as an instructor with POST, the state agency that trains and certifies police officers, but is now retired. He did not respond to messages from The Oaklanside.
Retired Oakland police officer Markus Hackenberg commented on a video in which Snyder makes unsubstantiated election rigging claims and calls on the “Hawaiian shirts” to “come out” and “protest.” Hackenberg wrote below Snyder’s post, “You nailed it,” and added a thumbs up emoji. A message to Hackenberg did not receive an immediate response.
Law enforcement officers are advised by their departments to be careful about what they post on social media, and some types of content or interactions can result in discipline if it advocates violence or breaking the law, or includes disparaging and discriminatory material.
Earlier this week, California’s Racial Identity and Profiling Advisory Board, a statewide group that studies inequities in policing, recommended that police departments monitor officers’ social media activity to ensure officers aren’t posting material that reveals bias or other problems.
There have been several recent examples of law enforcement officers posting disturbing content on social media, including a private Facebook group in which Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths, and another private Facebook group where California Highway Patrol officers talked about breaking state law to assist ICE agents.