(WEHT)- Members of the far-right extremist group known as the Proud Boys celebrated after President Donald Trump told them to “stand back and stand by” during Tuesday night’s debate after moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists.
But who are the Proud Boys? According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group was founded by Gavin McInness in 2016. The SPLC considers the group’s ideology as “general hate,” and they have designated the organization as a “hate group.” The Proud Boys have appeared at gatherings, including the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where a counterprotester was killed. Following that event, President Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides. The “Unite the Right” rally was primarily organized by former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler.
Members have been known to describe themselves as “western chauvinists” and the organization itself is male-only, though the Southern Poverty Law Center adds there is a women’s organization called Proud Boys’ Girls.
The Proud Boys have pledged support to President Trump and the SPLC says the group is known for anti-Muslim, transphobic, and misogynistic rhetoric. The term “Proud Boys” reportedly comes from the song “Proud of Your Boy” from the Aladdin musical.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that white supremacists and anti-government extremists have been responsible for most of the recent deadly attacks conducted by extremist groups on US soil. This is in contrast to remarks from President Trump and other Republicans, who have instead blamed Antifa. However, Wray and former Vice President Joe Biden have said Antifa is not an organization, but rather an ideology.
The Anti-Defamation League says the Proud Boys exhibit “many of the hallmarks of a gang,” adding violence has been a “key component” of the organization. Throughout the summer, the ADL says the Proud Boys have been seen clashing with counterprotesters across the country including in Portland and Kalamazoo.
(This story was originally published on September 30, 2020)
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