BOISE, Idaho — A group of white supremacists converged on Burns, Tennessee, this past weekend for the American Renaissance conference. It's sponsored by the New Century Foundation, which is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a think tank that promotes "pseudo-scientific studies and research that purports to show the inferiority of blacks to whites." A recently-retired Patrol Captain from the Boise Police Department, Matthew Bryngelson, was slated to speak at this white nationalist conference, under the pseudonym "Daniel Vinyard."
Daniel Vinyard was a character in the movie American History X, who was influenced by his older brother's neo-Nazi views and his white supremacist gang.
Now, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean says she is launching an investigation into Bryngelson's actions and his two-decade-long career with BPD, and the Boise Police Department in general.
Bryngelson was one of several officers who filed internal complaints against former Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee, who is an Asian-American and came to the department from Portland, OR in 2020. Bryngelson told KTVB he retired early after 22 years with the agency because he felt he was being pushed out and Lee was creating a hostile work environment that was affecting his mental health.
Bryngelson and eight other officers took their complaints to the Boise Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The OPA director recommended the mayor place Lee on leave while a third-party investigated the complaints. Lee was not placed on leave, but after the KTVB story was published months later, the mayor forced Lee to resign.
KTVB was not aware of Bryngelson's involvement with the New Century Foundation and American Renaissance prior to conducting interviews or publishing our story on Sept. 22, 2022.
KTVB also reached out to Bryngelson, who has not yet responded to questions.
While addressing Boise Police Department officers and police union leaders during union negotiations Monday morning, Mayor McLean said the city will use an experienced independent investigator to fully investigate whether any Bryngelson or other department staff used BPD resources "to advance racist ideology" and to determine if anyone's rights were violated within the community or the department.
"That this officer served in this department for two decades is appalling; we must ensure the public that the actions taken by this department were forthright and determine if this issue is pervasive within the department," McLean said. "This is serious. Our community deserves a police department worthy of their investment and trust; BPD staff who work day in and out to live up to their commitment to protect and serve and find themselves as morally outraged as I am at the racist, dehumanizing propaganda spouted by at least one of their coworkers deserve to know that we have their backs."
McLean told officers and staff that if they cannot or do not cooperate fully and honestly, now is the time to leave the department and the profession.
"The people of Boise rely on you to protect and serve them. The people of Boise deserve better. Everyone should trust that they will be treated fairly. We can’t expect that one would be able to trust that someone who perpetuates such blatant racism, while serving as an officer, would be able to treat those he reviles so deeply in a fair way. In the way that members of our community – any community – deserve and expect," McLean said.
Bryngelson's involvement with American Renaissance
KTVB learned Bryngelson also contributed as a writer to American Renaissance publications under his pseudonym Daniel Vinyard while employed as a high-ranking Boise Police officer, overseeing the patrol division.
SPLC has categorized the New Century Foundation and its publication American Renaissance as a hate group due to its white nationalist ideologies. It was founded in 1990 and is based out of Oakton, VA.
SPLC defines it as a "self-styled think tank that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research that purport to show the inferiority of blacks to whites — although in hifalutin language that avoids open racial slurs and attempts to portray itself as serious scholarship." Furthermore, its American Renaissance magazine and website publish essays from anti-black racists and supporters of eugenics.
The group's American Renaissance conferences are held every other year, according to the SPLC, and attract white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, eugenicists, Holocaust deniers, and Neo-Nazis.
Bryngelson's biography on the conference website states that the title of his talk was called "The Vilification of the Police and What it Means for America." He is described as a retired, "race-realist police officer" with 30 years of experience who retired as a captain in a mid-sized city.
American Renaissance and New Century Foundation founder Jared Taylor posted an article one day after KTVB's story came out in September, previewing the upcoming conference. Taylor said about Bryngelson; "Talkers like me are in awe of doers like him."
Bryngelson's involvement with American Renaissance came to light on Twitter over the weekend when a user stated that Bryngelson, under his pseudonym, was scheduled to speak at the conference and his headshot on the conference website was previously blacked out, but is no longer obscured.
KTVB was able to verify that Bryngelson is in fact Daniel Vinyard through a video interview he did with Taylor.
In the video interview, the two discuss, "the challenge of fighting largely non-white crime in an era of anti-white hysteria."
The interview was published in September 2022, the same month Bryngelson retired from BPD, but is timestamped online as being recorded in May 2022, while he was still a captain with BPD. (The video has been removed from the American Renaissance website, but KTVB was able to find it on YouTube.) Bryngelson also acknowledges he was currently an officer at the time.
He claims in the video that every time he arrests Black people, they resist arrest and accuse him falsely of being racist.
"It's a script," Bryngelson tells Taylor, "That's what happens every single time no matter what the case is. You can catch them just finishing beating someone and during the subsequent resisting of arrest, the fight, we're called racists... One-hundred percent of the time we're accused of being racists, especially in this town because there's so few Black people there that when we do encounter them of course it's going to be white officers because that's mostly what we have."
According to data from 2019, the City of Boise's police department reflected the city's demographics; the city was 89% white while more than 92% of sworn police officers were white.
In the video, Bryngelson claims Black people violently attack our most vulnerable community members far more than white people. Bryngelson states "almost without exception" the most violent crimes are committed by Black people who are not from the town he works in.
"Whatever the worst crime of the day is, it's usually either a Black person or a non-white," Bryngelson tells Taylor.
He states that the most high-profile incidents of Black Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement officers - and sparked racial justice protests around the nation - wouldn't have happened if the people didn't resist arrest.
Bryngelson wrote articles for American Renaissance titled "My Career as a White Police Officer" in July 2020 and "Can a White Cop Be a Victim of Microaggressions?" in June 2021.
As he was writing these articles, Bryngelson was also hosting the Boise Police Department's podcast called "The BPD Beat".
The podcast covered several topics to help the community get to know staff, understand BPD's community liaison work and learn about the department's values. Descriptions of the episodes on Spotify show that Bryngelson interviewed the department's Asian-American/Pacific Islander Liaison Officer, Refugee Liaison Officer and LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer about how the department is making an effort to make Boise a "city for everyone".
In his 2020 article, Bryngelson admits that he was "complained on" by Black or Hispanic people.
"Even when I started my career, it was very common to be “complained on” by Blacks — they would file formal complaints with the department — but it is a thousand times worse today. Officers are therefore especially careful to give no grounds for complaint when they must deal with Blacks."
He also claims that almost all Black officers he worked with throughout his career performed poorly.
"I was convinced then and still am that Blacks work so little in order to avoid exposing their incompetence," he wrote.
Without explicitly naming the city of Boise, Bryngelson said he chose to live in his town because it was predominantly white, as did other officers on the force who chose to move to an area where their children won't be "subjected to 'diversity' in the schools and violence in their neighborhoods".
He also claims violent crime is increasing because of the refugees resettling in his town.
"I now see sub-Saharan Africans walking down Main Street with 40-pound bags of rice on their heads. People from Third-World countries full of squalor and corruption come to our city and demand special treatment while contributing nothing," Bryngelson wrote.
In his 2021 essay titled "Can a White Cop be a Victim of Microaggressions?", Bryngelson claims he's a lieutenant with a sheriff's office in the Northeast and discusses his city's effort to elect a person of color to serve on the city council.
He says the newly elected council member went up to five officers standing together, pushed past the white ones, ignored them and "gushed over" the newly-hired Black lieutenant.
It is likely that Bryngelson is referring to Boise City Councilmember Lisa Sanchez, as she is the one female of color on council.
More City of Boise, law enforcement leaders respond
Former Internal Affairs Captain, Tom Fleming, was also featured in the KTVB story about complaints against Lee. He says he was pushed to retiring early after disagreeing with his chief. He responded to the situation with Bryngelson, saying, "I am not part of this. I didn't know what this was when I was told about it. We retired a month apart. I don't run in the same circles, but we issued complaints against Lee at the same time."
The Boise Police Department also released the following statement Monday morning:
In light of recent revelations concerning a former member of BPD Command Staff, the Boise Police Department unequivocally states there is no room for racist ideologies, hatred, bigotry, or behaviors among members of the Boise Police Department, and we publicly condemn such in the strongest possible terms.
We find the actions and words of former BPD Captain Bryngelson relating to persons of color in our department and in our community to be offensive and troubling. We have communicated internally to all members of this agency in any capacity, that if anyone shares these types of thoughts, feelings, values, or ideologies – this department, and this line of work, is not for them. As a department, we commit to taking swift action with anyone who may harbor similar sentiments.
To be associated with an organization such as the “American Renaissance,” is unconscionable for a member of this agency. We must unitedly stand against hate and resist discrimination of any kind.
As a city and a community, we will address this. We share the concerns of Mayor McLean and the Boise City Council and will welcome and fully cooperate with an independent investigation to begin rebuilding a trusting relationship with each other and the public. We know that it will take the efforts of every one of us to gain the trust lost through these actions by a former member of our department.
Boise City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings reacted to the news on Twitter Sunday morning, and followed up with a statement on Monday afternoon:
"As President Pro Tem of Boise City Council, I strongly condemn the statements of retired Boise Police captain Matthew Bryngelson and his affiliation with an organization tied to white supremacy. Bigotry and racism have no place in Boise. In coordination with Mayor McLean.
I commit support to a full and independent investigation of this former officer's actions and lasting impact on our community. We renew our commitment to ensure all Boise Police Department officers are treating Boiseans with the fairness we all deserve.
Thank you to the observers who brought this to our attention and the people of Boise for your commitment to the safety, dignity and respect of all residents."
Councilmember Lucy Willits also released a statement to KTVB on Monday:
“What former captain Matthew Bryngelson said is wrong. I’m offended and shocked by his racist comments. There are a lot of questions about his service in our police department and I support finding the answers. White supremacy has no place in our city. I do not believe Bryngelson’s racist views reflect the men and women of the Boise Police Department.”
The Treasure Valley Fraternal Order of Police denounced Bryngelson's "racist views" on Sunday. They said the former member's thoughts, beliefs, and actions are unbecoming of a law enforcement officer and are devastating to their membership and relationships with the community.
Joe Andreoli, past president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #11 wrote the following:
"We are confident that none of our more than 600 members share these racist views. Our lodge leaders and members will not tolerate this revolting behavior. We stand together to strongly condemn the views of Bryngelson and any like-minded individuals, and to stand firmly against racism.
We understand the impact that words like Bryngleson’s can have on our communities. We are committed to working hard with leadership from the International Brotherhood of Police Officers #486 and agencies across the valley and the State of Idaho to begin, immediately, to rebuild the trust that our community members have placed in us."
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