As further evidence that we’re all trapped in an increasingly surreal waking nightmare, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a photo-op on Friday of himself with a sheriff’s deputy whose uniform prominently sported a patch for QAnon, the elaborate, pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theory with 4chan roots.
The tweet has since been deleted.
The photo was flagged on Twitter by Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt, who noted the patch’s resemblance to one currently available on Amazon that reads “Question The Narrative.” Before it was scrubbed from Twitter, the tweet was originally shared Friday from the official White House account for the vice president, which later re-posted similar images of the vice president and local law enforcement officials without the deputy with the QAnon patch.
The post coincided with the vice president’s visit to Florida. BuzzFeed News reported Friday that the original post was taken down “minutes” after the outlet contacted both the office of the vice president as well as the White House for comment about the image. Per BuzzFeed News:
An official at the Vice President’s Office told BuzzFeed News the image was deleted from Pence’s account after the patch was pointed out to staff. The official added that the image was taken down so as not to draw attention to the baseless conspiracy theory.
QAnon refers to a Pizzagate-like conspiracy theory that centers around a purported U.S. government official with high-level security clearance identified as “Q.” QAnon is a sprawling rabbit hole of bizarre and baseless claims that deal in everything from a child sex trafficking ring to government-directed lasers that masquerade as natural disasters. QAnon conspiracy theory communities have been banned from Reddit, and Apple reportedly pulled a QAnon-centered alerts app from its App Store in September.
Several outlets have identified the deputy sporting the patch as a distinguished veteran with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokesperson for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, told the Miami New Times that the patch was “not authorized” and that the “matter [would] be addressed immediately.”
What a world we live in.
Update 12/3/18 5:00 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for the Broward Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement to Gizmodo:
“This morning, Sgt. Matt Patten was issued a written reprimand. Sgt. Patten was also removed from BSO’s Strategic Investigations Division’s Office of Homeland Security. Additionally, he has been removed from our agency’s SWAT Team and will be re-assigned to the Department of Law Enforcement.”