A safety guardian was taken off campus and placed on temporary reassignment while the School District of Manatee County reviews comments and conspiracy theories that were shared on his Facebook page over the span of about a decade, some of which appear to advocate violence.
The Bradenton Herald checked the first class of 20 guardians against local and federal court records, finding nothing more than traffic citations. On social media, two of the guardians shared their excitement after completing training and starting a new job, and others shared pictures of their friends and family.
But guardian John Cinque, a security officer at Kinnan Elementary School, used Facebook to share his thoughts with a following of nearly 4,800 people. His Facebook was disabled on Monday afternoon, shortly before the school district released a statement.
He could not be reached for comment.
“Due to the nature of the alleged posts, the Guardian has been removed from the school pending the outcome of an investigation by the district’s Office of Professional Standards,” district attorney Mitchell Teitelbaum said in an email.
Sheriff Rick Wells, whose agency trained the guardians, declined to comment. He referred questions to the school district, which employs the guardians.
Between 2010 and 2016, Cinque shared nearly a dozen altered pictures of blue United Nations helmets, some with one bullet hole in the side and others riddled by gunfire. A picture uploaded in July 2016 features a target over the helmet, accompanied by text that read, “Official Patriot Qualification Target.”
On July 9, 2011, Cinque shared hundreds of UN helmets in one picture. The image was linked to a comment from his Facebook account.
“I like to think they were already worn and target practice has already taken place. They are just stacked now to do the body count,” the comment said.
His apparent hatred of the UN is linked to a conspiracy on the “New World Order.” Its followers believe the United States government will one day confiscate its citizens’ guns and imprison thousands of people, aided by the UN and federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security.
They believe the takeover might be prompted by a false flag, a term for covert government operations designed to instill fear in citizens. Cinque espoused that belief in a 2015 post, which included a picture of his Remington 1911 handgun, hanging from his waistband as he sat in a car.
“Heading out to dinner with the wife for what might be the last birthday of our REPUBLIC....I am prepared to defend against the up coming false flag CIA Homeland security...OH...AHHH..I mean ISIS attack,” the caption said.
Some believe the outcome is a single government that rules the world by implementing a global currency, eroding American sovereignty and stripping citizens of their rights, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Cinque has referenced the conspiracy in several Facebook posts, and he shared images of Nazis, concentration camps, SWAT teams and riot squads. He seemed aware that others view him as a conspiracy theorist, and he labeled those people as sheep and slaves.
“Homeland Security thinks I’m a domestic terrorist because I support the Constitution,” said one of his images, uploaded in 2010.
“That moment when you realize that your tinfoil hat-wearing friend was right about everything,” a 2016 post said.
Such beliefs are commonly held by the Oath Keepers, “a large but loosely organized collection of anti-government extremists,” according to the ADL.
Similarly, the Southern Poverty Law Center called Oath Keepers “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today.”
“While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans,” the SPLC website states.
Cinque was a card-carrying member of the organization in 2013, according to a post he made at the time. Though it accepts all people, the group targets current and former law enforcement officers, military personnel and first responders.
According to the National Personnel Records Center, Cinque joined the U.S. Navy in July 1984 before he was transferred to the reserves in April 1988. At the first day of guardian training, Cinque said he also served as a firefighter in Connecticut for more than two decades.
The Oath Keepers has decried notions that its members are extremists. On its website, the organization describes itself as a “non-partisan association” comprised of people “who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Such enemies may come in the form of federal law enforcement or military personnel, according to Cinque’s posts. An image uploaded in July 2011 shows an upside down SWAT helmet with a bullet hole on its side.
“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary,” the post said, quoting an 1893 opinion from the Supreme Court of Indiana.
Though the quote never existed in Plummer v. State, a similar sentiment was shared by Chief Justice James McCabe at the time. The quote shared by Cinque originated on constitution.org, a website run by someone with ties to militias and antigovernment organizations, according to Snopes.
Cinque also pledged allegiance to the “Three Percenters” in dozens of images uploaded throughout several years. The group is often referred to as a militia but it denies such claims on its website.
According to his Facebook history, Cinque also believed in a chemtrail conspiracy. It’s a theory that government agencies are pumping toxic chemicals into the sky, possibly to control citizens or alter the weather, according to Harvard University researchers who deconstructed the myth.
He believes in a conspiracy to convert the U.S. into a Muslim nation or caliphate, according to his posts, which also included images of so-called crisis actors.
Some people believe the government hired actors to cry and grieve after tragic events, such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Conspiracy theorists labeled the event as another false flag.
Cinque and 19 others completed a psychological evaluation, background check and 144 hours of training through the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. They deployed to area schools last week, and another group of 20 candidates is currently going through training.
Guardians — armed security officers with no law enforcement authority — are expected to “work with a wide variety of students from diverse backgrounds” and to “exercise good judgment under potentially dangerous conditions,” according to their job description.