Coweta firefighter fired after neo-Nazi claims

County commissioner calls for review of hiring practices for first responders
Hunter Forsyth, a Coweta County firefighter, has been suspended pending an investigation into his alleged connection with white supremacists. His Facebook profile picture includes the message "Exposing Friends to Extremist Content."

Credit: Facebook

Credit: Facebook

Hunter Forsyth, a Coweta County firefighter, has been suspended pending an investigation into his alleged connection with white supremacists. His Facebook profile picture includes the message "Exposing Friends to Extremist Content."

A Coweta County firefighter has been fired following an official investigation that he is a neo-Nazi and a member of White Lives Matter, an online organization that spreads racist and antisemitic propaganda around the nation and internationally.

“We became aware of this unfortunate matter this week and immediately began an investigation,” County Administrator Michael Fouts said in a statement released Wednesday. “We can confirm that as of Dec. 7, Hunter Forsyth is no longer with Coweta County Fire Rescue. Our focus is and always will be providing the best quality care and service to all our citizens and visitors.”

Forsyth’s alleged affiliation with the white supremacist group was unearthed by left-wing activist organization Atlanta Antifascists, which on Tuesday published a lengthy dossier to its website using public records, photographs and social media posts across multiple platforms in its investigation into Forsyth and his alleged connections to White Lives Matter, an international group that espouses that the United States and European countries be “re-purposed” into white-only states where a small number of people of other races would “serve the interests of White People.”

The county placed Forsyth on paid leave Tuesday following the publication of the claims and started its own investigation. He had been a county employee since January. Paperwork provided by the county makes no mention of the allegations, instead noting that he was fired for failing to successfully complete his probationary period. The separation notice is signed by Fouts.

“We’ve received information on the matter,” Fouts said Tuesday when contacted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the allegation. “Obviously, we are concerned about our employees and providing public service.”

Hate group watchdogs say the White Lives Matter is behind the spread of racist and antisemitic propaganda in cities around the United States.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was able to verify some of Atlanta Antifascists’ documentation by viewing Forsyth’s social media accounts on Facebook and the far-right platform Gab. As a reporter was viewing the Gab profile attributed to Forsyth, material on the page was restricted from public view.

The AJC attempted to reach Forsyth, but the call was not returned.

Forsyth’s alleged Gab profile included the slogan “democracy is death” as well as images of Hitler, numerous antisemitic and racist messages, and references to the “14 words” — a white supremacist slogan referencing alleged threats to the white race.

Forsyth’s Facebook profile is less overt but featured a profile photo including the message “Exposing Friends to Extremist Content” and a Facebook banner picture featuring a Black Sun or “Sonnenrad,” a symbol associated with Nazi Germany and modern-day white supremacists. Both have since been replaced with more generic photographs.

Coweta County Commissioner Al Smith, who is the only Black member of the county board, said Tuesday that the county may need a policy requiring the personnel department to check social media accounts of front-line county workers to make sure extremists are not hired as first responders and other positions of public trust.

“I don’t think we have a protocol that includes checking an applicant’s Facebook page,” he said. “It may need to be codified.”

Coweta County Commissioner Al Smith

Credit: Coweta County

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Credit: Coweta County

In 2018, county residents expressed outrage when a neo-Nazi group chose Newnan as the site for a public rally. The event drew hundreds of counter-protesters and an equal number of police, but only a handful of extremists.

Smith said Coweta County isn’t alone in facing problems with far-right ideologies. “This has been prevalent in society at large for over 200 years,” he said. “It’s been this way for so long. I’m not going to say we haven’t made any progress but the progress we have made have been slow to come by.”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published Dec. 6 and has been updated to reflect Hunter Forsyth’s termination on Dec. 7.