John Guandolo’s anti-Muslim roadshow will hit West Texas this week, where he is scheduled to train law enforcement and others in the city of San Angelo on Friday, May 4.
Emails obtained by Hatewatch indicate that Gaundolo is working with the anti-Muslim media outlet Christian Reporter News (CRN) along with the Concho Valley Council of Governments, a voluntary organization of local governments based in San Angelo, to organize the visit. The training is open to citizens, law enforcement and clergy.
CRN claims over 30 law enforcement officers have signed up to attend. Guandolo and his anti-Muslim hate group, Understanding the Threat (UTT), are no stranger to San Angelo, having conducted a similar training in October of 2017. “This will not be the same presentation John did previously,” CRN founder Kat Rowoldt told supporters in a recent email. “I asked him to do a completely different training so if any of the Law Enforcement officers who attended last time wanted to return, they could, and receive TCOLE hours for it. You’ll not want to miss this opportunity.”
TCOLE stands for The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which is a state regulatory agency designed to oversee law enforcement training curriculum. Officers are required to complete a certain amount of training hours per year. Guandolo’s training seminars are steeped in anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories, and have prompted other law enforcement agencies across the country to either distance themselves from previous UTT events or offer no credit to officers attending them.
In 2014, the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy withdrew accreditation from a Guandolo training put on the Culpepper County Sheriff’s Office. And in 2015, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office pulled out of a counter-terrorism seminar featuring Guandolo. That same year, the Denver Police Department dispatched a local detective to a UTT event in Colorado to identify any of its officers in attendance, presumably for re-training.
Last year, the National Sheriff’s Association rescinded its support of Guandolo after he was involved in a physical altercation with a Minnesota sheriff at the group’s annual conference in Reno, Nevada. The altercation, which later led to a restraining order against Guandolo, stemmed from him accusing Sheriff Richard Stanek of working “with jihadis in the community.” The charges against Guandolo have since been dropped.
Guandolo touts his FBI background to lend credibility to his training courses, which are offered to law enforcement and civilians alike. Often omitted, however, is the controversial manner in which he departed the federal law enforcement agency. In 2008, Guandolo resigned from the Bureau in disgrace after a number of ethical breaches and bizarre conduct, including admitting to having affairs with female FBI agents and a confidential source he was assigned to protect during the corruption case of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA); he also solicited that witness for a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group.
After his departure from the FBI, Guandolo founded UTT and turned to a full-time career as an anti-Muslim fearmonger. During an event in 2011, he claimed U.S. mosques were fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that Muslim houses of worship in general, “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”
Guandolo made headlines in March of 2018 for religiously profiling an unsuspecting Southwest Airlines employee on social media. The inflammatory post caused such an uproar that the airline was forced to respond, calling the now-deleted tweet “cruel and inappropriate.” He later doubled down on his post during a recent episode of UTT’s radio show. As it turns out, this was not the first time Guandolo has posted pictures of unsuspecting airline employees and accused them of being “jihadis.”
Last month, a five-city Midwest speaking tour organized by UTT and the right-wing media outlet Worldview Weekend imploded after only the first night amidst widespread condemnation from local activists. This time around, Guandolo failed to advertise his San Angelo training, possibly in an attempt to avoid another public humiliation. Hatewatch reached out to the mayor of San Angelo as well as the executive director of the Concho Valley Council of Governments for comment, but neither responded by the time of publishing.