There was a lot of backlash that erupted after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced his plan to deputize a group of civilians for emergency deployments. However, that backlash apparently did not stop the Republicans from showing enough support to help the plan move forward. 

Local Opponents Compare ‘Special Deputies’ To KKK Chapters, Nazi Brownshirts

Local opponents of the controversial plan have compared the concept of “special deputies” used by the government to other similar government-backed militias throughout history. For instance, these references have included chapters of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Arthur Raslich

In addition, some have referenced the Nazi brownshirts that were supported by Adolf Hitler. The opponents have claimed that Blakeman’s plan to operate a civilian militia as a de facto police force during vaguely-defined “states of emergency” places this plan in the same category as those controversial groups of the past.

Minority Leader Legislator Shared Concerning Comparisons From Constituent Email

Nassau County Minority Leader Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) led the protest against Blakeman’s plan on Monday outside of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building. Other local advocates and politicians joined forces to criticize the Provisional Special Deputy program as well.

Source: Pixabay/Muhammad Ribkhan

DeRiggi-Whitton referenced the comparisons of the plan to the Wild West and Nazi “brownshirts” during her speech. However, further reports show that the comparisons were sent to her via email by a constituent. Therefore, she referenced the concerns of the constituent – not her own personal claim or comparison.

Blakeman Views Nazi Comparisons As ‘Personal Insult’ To Him And ‘Humanity’

Blakeman reportedly responded to the criticisms of his plan that compared his deputized civilians to the Nazi Brownshirts. The Long Island press reported that Blakeman suggested it was a “personal insult to him as a Jew.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In addition, Blakeman felt that it was also “a personal insult on humanity.” Blakeman is reportedly the first Jewish executive in Nassau County.

Blakeman Praised Deputy Candidates As ‘Civic-Minded Individuals Who Stepped Up’

Blakeman claimed that he found fault in “equating these men and women who would be willing to devote their time to protecting our county” to Nazi brownshirts. He further stated that the comparison was an “insult to those men and women.”

Source: Pixabay/Dani Cress

He described the candidates considered for his special deputy program as “civic-minded individuals who stepped up.” He added that these individuals “said they would serve in an emergency.”

Blakeman: ‘Do You Want Me To Have To Scramble’ During An Emergency?

Blakeman opened up further to defend his plan in a previous interview with PIX11 News. His focus was primarily on the timing of an emergency response.

Source: Pixabay/Pete Linforth

He asked, “God forbid there is an emergency, do you want me to have to scramble at that point to try and find people?”

Blakeman Claims That Special Deputies ‘Would Not Be Going Out On Patrol’

Blakeman further explained that the special deputies “would not be going out on patrol.” According to Blakeman, their primary task “would be to guard and protect government buildings, hospitals, utility plants” and “sewage treatment plants.”

Source: Pixabay

Blakeman also referenced such places of worship as “churches, mosques, and synagogues.” He added that the special deputies would guard and protect “things of that nature so that we could free up our police officers to do other work.”

County Executive Claims ‘This Is A Database And It’s Nothing More Than That”

Referring to the special deputy program, Blakeman explained that “this is a database, and it’s nothing more than that.” He highlighted that the deputies involved “will be trained” through firearms training.

Source: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

They would also reportedly have “training on penal laws” and “training on the use of deadly force.”

Applicants Must Consent To Full Background Check, Drug Testing

The applicants of the provisional special duty sheriff position must be between the ages of 21 and 72. In addition, they must be current citizens of Nassau County and the United States.

Source: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

According to the Long Island Press, they must also consent to a full background check and possess a valid pistol license. Applicants must also undergo drug testing and present a letter from their doctor confirming that they are fit for duty.

Other Republican Leaders Have Shown Support Of Civilian-Led Militia Groups

It may seem as if Bruce Blakeman is the first one to introduce the concept of civilian-led militia groups in recent U.S. history. However, there have been other Republican leaders showing support for the same concept in other states such as Michigan, California, Nevada, and Florida.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Myotus

One report indicates that the Portland branch of the Republican Party voted in 2017 to allow militia groups to act as security at the party’s public events. This group included Three Percenters and Oath Keepers.

Oath Keepers Provided Security At Trump Campaign Events From 2016-2020

The Oath Keepers also provided security during Trump campaign events and rallies between 2016 and 2020. Republican Secretary of State of Georgia Brad Raffensperger faced death threats after he refused “to find 11,780 votes.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

The death threats reportedly increased about Donald Trump declared Raffensperger an “enemy of the people.” Raffensperger’s family went into hiding after experiencing several treats – including a visit to their home by out-of-state Oath Keepers.

Militias Reportedly ‘Commit More Political Violence Than Any Other Group’

Scholar Rachel Kleinfeld wrote a detailed article about militia groups and deputized civilians used in other instances and political events in a 2022 article for Just Security. She stated that militias “commit more political violence than any other group.”

Source: Pixabay/Un-Perfekt

Kleinfeld reportedly ran the Truman National Security project. The distinguished scholar also served on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board for the State Department.

Kleinfeld Describes ‘Continuation’ Of ‘Troubling Infatuation’ With ‘Vigilantes’

Kleinfeld previously opened up about Nassau County in an interview with WBUR. She focused on the increasingly common alliance.

Source: Pixabay/DSJones

According to Kleinfeld, “what we’re seeing in Nassau County is a continuation of the conservative movement’s troubling infatuation with vigilantes and other civilian forces.” These civilian forces are “even less accountable and subject to oversight than ordinary police.”

Blakeman Filed Federal Lawsuit Challenging Controversial Ban On Transgender Athletes

Bruce Blakeman made headlines earlier this year when he filed a federal lawsuit to challenge a state order that targeted a controversial ban that he initiated to ban transgender athletes. His ban focused on transgender athletes that wanted to compete in girls’ and women’s sports.

Source: Pixabay/Alexander Fox

Blakeman stated within the lawsuit that the “cease and desist” letter sent by Attorney General Letitia James violated the “equal protection” clause of the US Constitution. He stated that “we’re taking action now because it’s happening around the country and we don’t want it to happen here.”

Blakeman Argued That Rescinding His Executive Order Denies Rights Of ‘Biological Females’

Blakeman argued that Attorney James forcing him to rescind the executive order that he issued on February 22 would impact the rights of “biological females.” The Republican stated that the rescinding would deny “biological females” the right ” to equal opportunities in athletics.”

Source: Pixabay/Boris Stromar

In addition, he claimed that it would deny them the right “to a safe playing field.” According to Blakeman, biological females would be exposed to a heightened risk of injury if they are required to compete against transgender women.