President Donald Trump did not rise to power on his own. He was supported by a web of far-right individuals and groups throughout the United States. Now, another one of these individuals has come to light: Damien Patton, who founded the Utah-based tech/surveillance company called Banjo, which recently entered into a contract with the Utah state government. Patton has now been revealed to have participated in violent white supremacy activities in past years, and following this revelation, the Utah state attorney general’s office has severed ties with the company, and Patton has stepped down.
Banjo, a Utah-based surveillance company under scrutiny because of its leader's past ties to the KKK, announced the departure of CEO Damien Patton in a blog post Friday.https://t.co/i7BpwdLETi
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) May 9, 2020
Patton’s past involvement in violent white supremacy is not trivial. In 1990, he participated alongside individuals like a local KKK leader in a drive-by shooting of a synagogue in Tennessee. He apparently drove the car while the KKK leader fired at the building, and he subsequently “went into hiding at a white supremacist training camp,” TechCrunch says. Patton was “an active participant in white supremacist groups in his youth” and has “admitted to also participating in talks on white supremacy, where he advocated for the elimination of blacks and Jews,” a local CBS outlet explains. This is the individual who was partially in charge of security surveillance for the Utah state attorney general’s office until recently.
Banjo CEO Damien Patton resigns after scrutiny over white supremacist past https://t.co/Re97TnK0aZ
— FOX 13 News Utah (@fox13) May 9, 2020
Patton expressed a semblance of remorse for his past while discussing his decision to step down as CEO of the Banjo surveillance company, which he founded.
‘I have worked every day to be a responsible member of society… In recent years, I’ve sought to create technologies that stop human suffering and save lives without violating privacy. I know that I will never be able to erase my past but I work hard every day to make up for mistakes. This is something I will never stop doing.’
RESIGNED: Former Banjo CEO Damien Patton pleaded guilty to being involved in a drive-by shooting of a synagogue in 1992.https://t.co/JeTA0liBwG
— KUTV2news (@KUTV2News) May 9, 2020
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has explicitly condemned Patton’s past. Reyes’s office insisted:
‘The Utah Attorney General’s office is shocked and dismayed at reports that Banjo’s founder had any affiliation with any hate group or groups in his youth. Neither the AG nor anyone in the AG’s office were aware of these affiliations or actions. They are indefensible. He has said so himself.’
Going forward, Patton added:
‘I’m deeply honored to have worked alongside the Banjo team and am proud of all we have accomplished thus far. I am confident Banjo’s greatest days are still ahead and will do everything in my power to ensure our mission succeeds. However, under the current circumstances, I believe Banjo’s best path forward is under different leadership.’
That new leadership structure will include current CTO Justin R. Lindsey rising to the position of CEO. The changes are all effective immediately. Going forward, it’s not just the company’s ties to the Utah state government that are in jeopardy; the University of Utah has also severed its ties with the company, and Banjo has subsequently decided to “suspend all of its contracts in the state,” as a report from TechCrunch outlines. The suspension will be in effect until an audit of the company can be completed.