Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Tony Moreno congratulated and met far-right militias who sport symbols linked to white nationalism | News | Pittsburgh

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CP photo: Jared Wickerham

Members of the Iron City Citizen Response Unit at an anti-quarantine rally in downtown Pittsburgh in April 2020

After losing the Democratic nomination in the primary election for mayor of Pittsburgh, retired police officer Tony Moreno secured enough written votes on the Republican ballot and has since continued his campaign for mayor as a Republican .

This included regular campaign events and door knocking, but also meetings with former far-right radio host Wendy Bell. In that vein, Moreno has apparently taken his campaign to an even more extreme level after meeting and praising a local far-right militia called the Iron City Citizens Response Unit, a group that sports and promotes a symbol related to anti – government extremism and white nationalism.

In an August 10 post on his personal Facebook page – which he often uses to campaign – Moreno shared a photo of IC CRU leader Matt Wakulik and wrote, “Well, thanks to those warriors.” Wakulik is in military attire and has an assault rifle on his chest in the photo.

Pittsburgh City Paper first wrote on IC CRU in April 2020, when the militia group participated in an anti-quarantine protest outside the City-County Building in Pittsburgh. In addition to military equipment and assault rifles, many members of the IC CRU also wore badges showing a symbol called Valknot, or Valknut.


Screenshot taken from Facebook

According to Anti-Defamation League, the Valknot is an ancient Norse symbol that often represented the afterlife and the Norse god Odin. The ADL notes that it has recently gained popularity with some white nationalist and white supremacist groups, but also notes that some “non-racist pagans may also use this symbol.”

Asked about the Valknots in April 2020, an IC CRU member, who declined to be identified, shouted “do your research” and then called City paper “Communist” and “the enemy of America”. In a statement subsequent to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, IC CRU said they were “surprised” by the way their logo portrayed them in a negative light and that they “publicly denounce all forms of racism and will side with any minority group when needed.”

On his personal Facebook page, Wakulik often mocks “communists” and calls those with different ideologies “tyrants” and “wicked” and apparently supports violent vigilantism. On August 10, Wakulik posted on Facebook praising the racist manifesto “Might is Right or The Survival of the Fittest,” an 1890 book which NBC News, “Filled with misogynistic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, is a staple among neo-Nazis and white supremacists on extremist sites.”

In a statement to City paper, Moreno has said he denounces any form of white supremacy.

“I unequivocally, without hesitation, denounce white supremacy, their organizations, their motives and their hate messages,” Moreno said. “I am Hispanic and Native American and I am a minority, so I have no tolerance for hate in any form and I will not associate or work with groups that support white nationalism.”

On his campaign site, Moreno lists his ancestry information and how her father is of Mexican and Native American descent and her mother has Scottish and Irish heritage. It has since been removed from the website, but the site listed the DNA breakdown of his ancestors, which indicated that Moreno was 52% Northwestern Europe, 19% Native America, 13% Spain , 7% from Ireland and Scotland and 3% from Basque. . Moreno, who was originally running for mayor as a Democrat, has come under scrutiny for previous comments he made on social media in favor of former President Donald Trump.

On August 12, several IC CRU members attended a fundraising event for Moreno at Le Mont restaurant in Mount Washington. An IC CRU member posted on Facebook that he was present at the event and included the #RealSteel when checking in on social media. Moreno’s website is realsteelmayor.com. In the caption of a Facebook photo of IC CRU members at the Mont, Wakulik wrote that IC CRU “has been invited to assist in the protection service of some prominent people in the city of Pittsburgh” and then wrote that “the Marxist Communist faction in our perimeter is strong and occupies high positions in the within corrupt county and city governments.

In a statement, Moreno admitted that IC CRU was among over 100 people who attended the campaign fundraiser and was asked to attend, but only to support the campaign, not to ensure safety.

“Last night about 100 people attended a fundraising campaign at LeMont in Mt. Washington, including a handful of members of the Iron City Citizen Response Unit,” Moreno said. “Everyone who was at my event last night was invited to attend for one purpose – to support my campaign for mayor of Pittsburgh, not to provide any protective services. ”

A request for comment to IC CRU went unanswered at press time.

In the summer of 2020, IC CRU was hired by a gym owner in Ambridge fearing a little Black Lives Matter walk in Aliquippa would run for miles across the Ohio River to Ambridge and damage a small gym on Merchant. Street in Beaver County. borough, according to the Beaver County. IC CRU even stood on the roof of the building, waiting for the civil rights marchers who never came.


Screenshot taken from Facebook

IC CRU and Wakulik are announced to attend a “Red, White & Blue Freedom Cruise” event on Sunday, August 22, which features a parade of boats and a rally at the Tequila Cowboy bar on the North Side. The owners of Tequila Cowboy donated to Moreno’s campaign, according to the documents. The other participants announced on the boat parade flyer, which features the IC CRU symbol and Valknot, are Moreno, Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. Rick Saconne and others.

UPDATE – Aug 17, 3:40 p.m.: According to Pennsylvania Capital-Star reporter Stephen CarusoRepublican gubernatorial candidate Jason Richey withdrew from the August 22 parade and boat rally due to the event’s connection to the IC CRU.

UPDATE – Aug 18, 2:40 PM: The “Red, White & Blue Freedom Cruise” event has been changed again. The Tequila Cowboy club was also removed from the flyer. Moreno’s name was also removed from the flyer, as was the IC CRU. The IC CRU symbol, which contains a Valknot, has also been removed from the flyer.

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