PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — A man who dressed as Santa Claus and was seen posing with the Placerville Proud Boys has just been appointed to a leadership position in El Dorado County.
Community members say it’s not a surprise that the Proud Boys displayed a racist hand gesture in the heart of Placerville. What’s shocking, they say, is the man who dressed as Santa Claus and held up the gesture now has a say in county matters.READ MORE: Placerville Residents Outraged After White Supremacist Group Shows Up At Toys For Tots Event
Chris Cockrell was appointed to serve on El Dorado County’s Veterans Affairs Commission Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m glad the Board of Supervisors appointed a very good man,” El Dorado County Veterans Affairs Commission Chairperson John Poimiroo said.
Poimiroo says Cockrell was asked to play Santa Claus for the USMC Reserve at their Toys for Tots program in Placerville. There, he took pictures with children, families, and the Placerville Proud Boys.
“They said make a sign, hold up the OK sign. So he held up the OK sign,” Poimiroo said.
Poimiroo claims Chris Cockrell didn’t know better. “Apparently it means a white supremacist sign of some kind,” Poimiroo said.READ MORE: Mayor Condemns Placerville Proud Boys Chapter: ‘We Don’t Want You In Placerville’
“He knew what that symbol meant after December 5th because it was made very clear by people in the community,” Michelle Greene, with El Dorado County’s Black Lives Matter chapter, said. “He has still not denounced the Proud Boys, nor has he apologized for holding up that symbol, and that to me speaks volumes.”
“When I talked to him about being a white supremacist and racist, and so forth he was shocked by it,” Poimiroo said.
Poimiroo, who confirms Cockrell was active on the alternative social network app Parler, an app that was kicked off Amazon, Apple, and Google for posts that encouraged violence and racist behaviors.
“That doesn’t mean he’s a member of proud boys or that he holds their beliefs at all,” Poimiroo said.
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Still, some question Mr. Cockrell’s ability to serve on the veterans’ commission. Despite some community members’ opposition to Mr. Cockrell’s appointment, he will begin his new position with the Veterans Affairs Commission immediately and could cast a vote on a number of issues as early as Thursday.