Patrick Riccards, executive director of Life After Hate, a non-profit that helps people leave extremist groups, said so-called “doxing,” like what happened to Forsyth, can be a triggering event that lets people leave hate groups behind.
“Those who try to live dual lives — community leaders by day and extremists by night — are typically in constant fear of being outed and doxed,” he said.
When their extremist lifestyle starts jeopardizing other parts of their lives, they may decide to leave, he said.
“Those committed to change, who take accountability for their wrongdoings and are willing to put in the work each and every day to improve, can exit a life of hate,” he said. “But they need to prove themselves each day and they need to reject their past beliefs. There is no middle ground when it comes to extremism.”
The publicity around the Forsyth episode has created a reckoning of sorts for the Coweta County Fire Department. Several former recruits who were in the class with Forsyth told the AJC that racial tensions permeated the department and that leaders in the agency, including Chief Flanagan, have made offensive and discomforting remarks about minorities. The county’s human resources department conducted an investigation earlier this year into some of those allegations and concluded that leadership had mishandled some of the tensions that arose between white and Black recruits during their training period. The class graduated in August.
Forsyth’s firing has provoked a response from the far right. Newnan Police confirmed antisemitic propaganda was distributed to homes in the city over the weekend. Far-right activist Michael Weaver, who has distributed flyers associated with the antisemitic hate group Goyim Defense League, in Atlanta’s northern suburbs for the past year, took credit for organizing the leafleting but said he did not personally deliver them.
In a statement, Newnan Police said they were investigating.