A Massachusetts police officer attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, five years ago and acted in key security and planning roles, HuffPost has confirmed. He also used an alias to post racist and antisemitic comments online. The officer, John Donnelly, was still an active-duty member of the police force until Thursday, shortly after HuffPost inquired about his status with the department and role within the deadly white supremacist rally.
Donnelly, 33, was a patrolman for the Woburn Police Department near Boston, where he has been employed since 2015.
But on the morning of Aug. 12, 2017, Donnelly might be seen on video arriving on the Charlottesville rally with Richard Spencer, a outstanding white supremacist for whom Donnelly was apparently acting as a security guard. Spencer, Donnelly and a coterie of other suit-and-tie fascists worked their way right into a city park where they held court beneath a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, posing for photos and talking into livestreams.
Donnelly was amongst a whole bunch of white supremacists who invaded the university town. His fellow attendees violently attacked counterprotesters, with one neo-Nazi driving his automotive right into a crowd of anti-fascists, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others. That evening, Donnelly went to a celebration at a house near Charlottesville, where he joined in a celebration of the day’s events.
Donnelly then returned to Massachusetts and resumed his job as a cop.
His white supremacist activism and involvement within the Charlottesville rally has gone unknown for five years, during which period Donnelly — while still working as a police officer — became the president of a “back the blue” nonprofit raising money for law enforcement, in addition to an award-winning real estate agent whose face is featured on an enormous billboard in Woburn, a Boston suburb.
But last month, an anti-fascist collective called Ignite the Right provided HuffPost with evidence showing Donnelly attended the Charlottesville rally and connecting him to a series of deeply alarming messages posted online wherein he advocated violence against leftists and minority groups.
HuffPost has verified the collective’s research and confirmed Donnelly’s employment with the Woburn Police Department.
After HuffPost contacted the department about Donnelly’s extremism, Police Chief Robert Rufo and Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin released a press release announcing Donnelly had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“The Charlottesville rally is a dark moment in our history, and deeply disturbing,” Galvin said. “The City of Woburn is taking these allegations seriously by investigating the incident thoroughly and I’ll move to terminate Officer Donnelly if the investigation concludes that the allegations are accurate.”
Rufo added that if the allegations against Donnelly are sustained, the department will “ask the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to decertify Officer Donnelly, ensuring he may not serve in law enforcement” within the state.
In response to questions regarding whether Donnelly had ever been disciplined for violating codes of conduct, or whether he’d been the topic of civilian complaints, Rufo said HuffPost’s inquiries could be treated as a public records request and answered inside 10 days.
Donnelly didn’t reply to multiple requests for comment. After HuffPost left him voicemails, emailed him and messaged him, he deleted his pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
White Supremacist ‘Johnny O’Malley,’ Patrolman Johnny Donnelly
Left: “Johnny O’Malley,” photographed on the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in August 2017. Right: A Zillow profile picture of John Donnelly, which was matched with the left photo through the facial recognition software PimEyes.
Ignite the Right is a bunch dedicated to exposing each one who participated within the 2017 event. “We don’t forgive,” the group’s website states. “We don’t forget.”
The location features a database of white supremacists who’ve been identified as attending the demonstration. (HuffPost has not independently verified these IDs.) It also includes photos of the various white supremacists whose names are still unknown, five years later.
One among those photos was of a white man wearing a suit and sunglasses, sporting a “high-and-tight” haircut favored by fascists on the time.
The anti-fascists with Ignite the Right plugged that photo into the facial recognition software PimEyes. The location searched the web and shot back a photograph of an identical-looking man from a profile page on the web real estate marketplace Zillow. It belonged to a Boston-area realtor named John Donnelly, a “buyer’s agent” and “listing agent” catering to clients within the police and the military.
The anti-fascists then went to work finding corroboration that the PimEyes identification was correct — to prove Donnelly was really the person within the suit and sunglasses.
They found a video on YouTube, filmed by someone named “KK,” from the Aug. 12, 2017, rally, showing the person standing beneath Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Within the video he introduces himself to KK.
“I’m Johnny O’Malley,” he says.
The anti-fascists recognized this name and understood it was likely an alias. They’d seen a “Johnny O’Malley” in a non-public message group for white supremacists planning the Charlottesville rally. A lot of the group’s members used pseudonyms.
The members’ messages to one another — hosted on the easy messaging platform Discord — were later obtained and published online by the independent media collective Unicorn Riot.
In a message on Aug. 14, 2017, someone within the group chat told “Johnny O’Malley” he’d seen him the YouTube video from Charlottesville. “Oh hey O’Malley, I saw you on KK’s video…nice glasses,” the message read.
“Oy vey… thanks lol,” O’Malley replied, suggesting that the O’Malley within the video and the O’Malley within the chat were the identical man.
Because the anti-fascists scrolled through messages from “Johnny O’Malley,” they found him divulging biographical details that matched those of John Donnelly, the actual estate agent. O’Malley, for instance, often talked about being Irish American and living within the Boston area.
And in a message dated Aug. 20, 2017, O’Malley wrote, “My sister got married to a huhwhite guy today… I’m trashed.” (“Huhwhite” is alt-right lingo for “white,” a reference to how some older white nationalists pronounce the word.)
In keeping with the Facebook profile belonging to John Donnelly’s sister, she was married on Aug. 20, 2017.
Ignite the Right noticed on Donnelly’s LinkedIn page that he was not only a realtor; he was a cop. “Police Officer, City of Woburn,” the page said. “Acted in support of normal police operations serving arrests, enforcing traffic laws, and providing services to 40,000+ residents of Woburn.”
Earlier this week, HuffPost emailed the photo of “Johnny O’Malley” from Charlottesville to Rufo, the police chief, asking him to substantiate the name and rank of the person within the photo.
“Johnny Donnelly,” Rufo responded. “Patrolman.”
‘Johnny O’Malley’ In Charlottesville
Donnelly was not some random attendee of the Charlottesville rally, but appears to have been deeply involved in organizing the event.
Within the chat logs obtained by Unicorn Riot, where he used the name “Johnny O’Malley,” Donnelly will be seen coordinating flights and carpools to Charlottesville for Unite the Right.
In a single message, Donnelly refers to himself as an Identity Evropa member, or not less than suggests he’s closely affiliated with those that are. Identity Evropa is a since-dissolved white supremacist group.
“If anyone heading downtown flying in Friday and has transportation … that wishes to select up two IE goys up on the airport, shoot me a [private message],” he wrote. “We’re flying into CVille airport.” (The word “goy” is a Jewish name for non-Jewish those that’s been appropriated by antisemites in recent times.)
Within the video of Donnelly on the rally, it’s clear that he’s working as a bodyguard for Spencer, the racist and antisemitic leader of the “alt-right” — a term Spencer coined to make his white supremacist movement sound more palatable to most of the people.
Donnelly stands next to Spencer within the video. “Were you on the torch rally last night?” the cameraman asks Donnelly, referring to an indication on the evening of Aug. 11, 2017, when a whole bunch of white supremacists marched across the campus of the University of Virginia carrying tiki torches and chanting, “You won’t replace us!” and “Jews won’t replace us!”
“Yeah, I used to be protecting this guy,” Donnelly responded to the cameraman’s query, gesturing at Spencer.
White nationalist Richard Spencer, center, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police in Emancipation Park after the “Unite the Right” rally was declared an illegal gathering on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
After the video of Donnelly and Spencer was filmed, the Unite the Right rally attendees broke into various bigoted chants, some targeting anti-fascist demonstrators.
And a short while later, the rally exploded into violence, with white supremacists and anti-fascists trading blows within the streets for hours as police stood nearby, watching.
Police eventually declared the rally an “illegal assembly” and commenced to push the white supremacists out of Lee Park. Photos show Spencer pushing himself against a phalanx of riot police, screaming and never wanting to go away.
It’s unclear if Donnelly, a police officer, joined Spencer in pushing the police.
Scattered violence broke out around Charlottesville because the white supremacists made their way out of the town. One fascist contingent beat a Black counterprotester with flag poles inside a parking garage.
And a neo-Nazi named James Alex Fields drove his Dodge Challenger right into a crowd of anti-fascists, sending people flying into the air and fatally injuring 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
A lady places flowers at a casual memorial to 32-year-old Heather Heyer on Aug. 13, 2017. Heyer was killed when a automotive plowed right into a crowd of individuals protesting the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
That evening, Donnelly joined a celebration of this violence.
In a message posted within the Discord group, Donnelly described getting a cab to a celebration after the Unite the Right rally. “And I used to be redpilling the fuck out of the motive force concerning the JQ,” Donnelly recounted. “Redpilling” means awakening to white supremacist beliefs, and “JQ” is an acronym for the “Jewish Query,” a phrase with Nazi roots referring to the antisemitic belief that Jews have undue influence and control over society.
Donnelly wrote that the cab was to “Azzmador’s house,” apparently a reference to Robert “Azzmador” Ray, an elder neo-Nazi who hosted a celebration at a secure house for white supremacists the evening of Aug. 12, 2017.
As HuffPost first reported, a video from that party shows Azzmador delivering a fiery speech after checking out about Heyer’s murder.
“That is our war!” he howled. “This has at all times been our war. And I wouldn’t want it some other way. Death to traitors! Death to the enemies of the white race! Hail victory!”
Azzmador’s adoring fans responded with their very own shouts of “Hail victory,” the English translation of the German Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil.”
They then broke right into a racist and antisemitic song, set to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
“My eyes have seen the glory of the trampling on the zoo. We’ve washed ourselves in n****rs’ blood and all of the mongrels’ too. We’re taking down the ZOG machine Jew by Jew by Jew! The white man marches on!”
Donnelly didn’t reply to a HuffPost request for comment about whether he sang along.
Police Officer And Alt-Right Shitposter
Donnelly’s messages within the chat group are replete with racist and antisemitic slurs, together with appeals to violence.
“I wore my physical removal shirt from Right Wing Death Squad apparel to the gym today,” Donnelly wrote in a single 2017 post. “Got some looks. In case you’re not wearing offensive clothing to the gym, the kikes win.”
Right Wing Death Squad is an apparel company that was popular among the many so-called alt-right in 2017. Its “physical removal” T-shirt is emblazoned with the words “PINOCHET DID NOTHING WRONG,” a reference to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s penchant for killing leftists by throwing them out of helicopters into the ocean.
An illustration on the back of the T-shirt depicts anti-fascists, or “antifa,” being thrown out of a helicopter. “MAKE COMMUNISTS AFRAID OF ROTARY AIRCRAFT AGAIN,” it says. “PHYSICAL REMOVAL SINCE 1973.”
Elsewhere within the chats, Donnelly wrote: “Friendly reminder that should you don’t lift today the kikes win.”
“We’ve enough fags in Boston we don’t need anymore,” read one other message.
“Just call them n*****s,” read one other.
He also once posted his email address, which comprises the word rotors ― a probable reference to Pinochet’s helicopters.
That email address is connected to an account on Gab, a white-supremacist-friendly Twitter knockoff.
“Finally a spot to shitpost without normie intervention,” Donnelly wrote on Gab.
“REMOVE KEBAB,” he wrote a short while later, using a racist alt-right euphemism for ethnically cleansing the U.S. and Europe of Muslims.
A Real Estate Agent, ‘Back The Blue’ Booster, And Firearms Instructor
White supremacist real estate agent John Donnelly.
Earlier this yr, John Donnelly was the topic of a nice profile in Boston Agent Magazine, a neighborhood real estate trade publication. It began:
A Massachusetts resident for 32 years, John Donnelly, in his own words, is “an agent’s agent.” A Woburn native, Donnelly takes pride within the local connections he’s fostered in his three years in real estate and through his profession as a police officer.
Along with providing him an outlet to hone his social skills, Donnelly credits his experience on the police force with giving him a powerful eye for detail and a fine-tuned negotiation style that helps him succeed today.
Donnelly now has a team of 15 motivated people working with him as The Donnelly Group, which primarily serves clients within the northern Boston and southern Latest Hampshire areas. “My team consists of a positive and fun atmosphere which promotes synergy, allowing us to get more done,” he remarks. In 2021, Century 21 also recognized Donnelly personally with the CENTURY 21 CENTURION® production award.
Donnelly got into the actual estate business in 2018, based on his since-deleted LinkedIn profile. By November 2020, based on an Instagram post from The Donnelly Group, he had his own billboard in Woburn. The photo shows him standing along with his German shepherd in front of the sign — which features his likeness and his business’s phone number.
Century 21 didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment Thursday about Donnelly’s white supremacist activism.
Donnelly’s former LinkedIn profile also described him as being the “president” of a nonprofit organization called Irish Angel since February of this yr.
“Irish Angel is a support network for Law Enforcement, EMS, Firefighters, and the Military,” the group’s website states. “We offer education, awareness, and resources about addictions, PTSD, PTSI, TBI, Depression, and anxiety.”
Irish Angel’s social media accounts incessantly post images of the “Thin Blue Line” flag, and messages with the phrase “Blue Lives Matter” — common symbols in law enforcement communities across the country that were developed as a racist retort to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Donnelly incessantly posts one of these pro-police propaganda on his own social media accounts.
He also appeared at a fundraiser for Irish Angel as recently as September 2021, based on a photograph posted to Twitter that shows him posing with the organization’s founder, Amanda Coleman.
John Donnelly at a fundraiser for Irish Angel.
A short while after HuffPost emailed Irish Angel about evidence of Donnelly’s white supremacist activism, the organization removed his picture from its website.
“We’re absolutely upset and appalled in light of this information,” Jorey Herrscher, the group’s treasurer, told HuffPost on Thursday. “We definitely had no knowledge of that happening, or otherwise he never would’ve been in that position. It’s a tragic thing that groups just like the ones he belonged to can infiltrate the perfect of organizations.”
Herrscher said Donnelly was “immediately removed” as president of Irish Angel and that an investigation has been launched to make sure his white supremacist activities didn’t impact the organization’s mission.
Before Donnelly was a cop, before he was an actual estate agent, and before he was the president of a police nonprofit, he worked along with his father at Precision Point Firearms.
The corporate’s website describes it as “federally licensed manufacturer and dealer of firearms” in Massachusetts. In keeping with the vanished LinkedIn page, Donnelly was an element owner of the corporate, in addition to a “lead firearms instructor” and “expert witness” until January 2017.
Photos from Precision Point Firearms show Donnelly attending different gun fairs and posing with big guns.
And one post, from early August 2017 — per week before Donnelly flew all the way down to Charlottesville — shows a pistol on the market next to a Precision Point Firearms-branded sticker.
“BLACK GUNS MATTER,” the sticker said.
A racist sticker for John Donnelly’s firearms company.
Anti-Fascists To Unite The Right Attendees: We Will Find You
Within the weeks leading as much as the Charlottesville rally, Donnelly coached future attendees how to not be doxxed.
In case you’re fearful about being identified, Donnelly wrote to members of the group chat, attempt to be “low key.” Don’t wear T-shirts with slogans or carry signs which may attract the eye of photojournalists.
He also tried to place the white supremacists relaxed.
“[Anti-fascists] can review all of the footage they need, but unless there may be an enormous effort, they’re not going to give you the option to doxx every body there,” Donnelly wrote.
Five years later, Donnelly has been doxxed by precisely that type of massive effort.
Ignite the Right is a coalition of anonymous anti-fascist researchers that formed on the five-year anniversary of the rally in Charlottesville this past August.
When it launched, the coalition implored people in communities across the country to send them suggestions that would help them ID individuals who attended Unite the Right.
The coalition now has the photos of 529 individuals who attended the rally on its website. Two-hundred eighty-one of them have been identified, a spokesperson said, while one other 248 still must be ID’d. (Again, HuffPost has not independently verified these IDs.)
Among the many dozens of white supremacists the coalition claims to have exposed over the previous few months was a pc science professor at Furman University in South Carolina. The professor, Christopher Healy, has been placed on leave pending an investigation by the varsity.
In a press release to HuffPost this week, Ignite the Right emphasized that it’s going to never stop its search to search out the fascists who terrorized Charlottesville.
“A lady was murdered at Unite The Right by a white supremacist compatriot of neo-Nazi cop John Donnelly,” the statement said. “The white supremacists who attended Unite The Right are an ever-present danger to their communities. We cannot tolerate Nazi cops and Nazi gun dealers having the authority to execute or imprison people. All his cases have to be reviewed.”
“White supremacists operate in any respect levels of society, including business, academia, and government,” the statement continued. “We are going to never stop hunting them down and exposing them.”