Inside the far-right, gun-toting Proud Boys who ban masturbation, spark street brawls & were told by Trump to 'stand by'
SCREAMS rang out on the streets of Charlottesville as a neo-Nazi ploughed his car into a wave of protesters, leaving dozens injured and a young woman dead.
Moments earlier, Alex Fields Jr – who was jailed last year over the sickening 2017 rampage – had been marching shoulder to shoulder with members of a violent mob known as the Proud Boys.
The alt-right group, who is lead by Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, shot to prominence this week after Donald Trump told them to "stand by" during Tuesday's fiery presidential debate.
When asked to condemn white supremacists the US President said: "Proud Boys – stand back and stand by."
His campaign staff have scrambled to play down his message to the group – which has been accused of extremist politics and openly encouraging violence.
The day after the debate he sought to clarify his statement, saying: "I don't know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."
Created in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys have seen their numbers swell during Trump's time in office following high profile street brawls with anti-fascist protesters.
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump's campaign, insists the President's debate comments made it “very clear he wants them to knock it off,” the New York Times reports.
But with the election looming, and Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the ballot, concerns are growing that he risks legitimising the Proud Boys' objectives.
'Pro-Western fraternity that bans masturbation'
The Proud Boys, who take their name from a song from Aladdin, are a self-described "pro-Western fraternal organisation for men" – with bizarre membership rules that even ban masturbation.
Described by civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an 'alt-right fight club', anyone can reportedly join the gang by declaring: "I am a western chauvinist, and I refuse to apologise for creating the modern world."
Members have to "give up masturbation because, in theory, it will leave them more inclined to go out and meet women".
Advancement also requires them to "endure a beating until they can yell out the names of five breakfast cereals (in order to demonstrate 'adrenaline control')" – and to prove their commitment by getting a Proud Boys tattoo.
Their supporters wear distinctive black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts – which led to the fashion label pulling the shirts from US shelves last month –and red Make America Great Again hats.
The Proud Boys have repeatedly denied being linked to the racist alt-right, and instead claim to offer "an 'anti-political correctness' and 'anti-white guilt' agenda".
But founder McInnes, who stepped down in 2018, has openly called for political violence and has made unabashed racist comments, including the admission: "I think it’s fair to call me Islamophobic."
The words of Gavin McInnes
“Maybe the reason I’m sexist is because women are dumb. No, I’m just kidding, ladies. But you do tend to not thrive in certain areas — like writing.”
“Well look at the canary in the coal mine called Britain. We see guys get away with raping children regularly, and they have excuses like: ‘I didn’t understand the word ‘no’.
“We have a woman raped several times in one night. All these guys seem to… they don’t all get away but they seem to get away way too often.
“And then you have people being jailed for rude tweets and comments when they’re white, so… people in America say ‘Muslims are what? One or two per cent of the population? There’s never gonna be sharia law here'.
“And I say have a look at Britain. Have a look at Europe. That’s where we’re headed.”
"It’s such a rape culture with these immigrants, I don’t even think these women see it as rape. They see it as just like having a teeth [sic] pulled.
"‘It’s a Monday. I don’t really enjoy it,’ but that’s what you do.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t have the same trauma as it would for a middle-class white girl in the suburbs because it’s so entrenched into their culture.”
Bloody brawls & automatic weapons
The Proud Boys have become notorious for violent street clashes with anti-fascist movements such as Antifa.
Antifa themselves have been guilty of various acts of street violence and aggressive behaviour and some sections of the American public welcome right-wing groups taking them on.
Insisting that violence was coming from left-wing activists – a view held in some quarters – Trump told the debate: "Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem."
However, Proud Boys member Alan Swinney, 50, was arrested yesterday after allegedly spraying mace, causing physical harm with a paintball gun and pointing a revolver during demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.
And two other members were last year convicted of gang assault, attempted assault and rioting after they were filmed viciously beating anti-fascist protesters in New York.
Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 32, were given four years for the crime after prosecutors argued they were the most violent in the 10-man brawl.
In 2018, it was reported that the FBI had classed the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism.
An official later clarified that this was a misunderstanding and that their intent was only to characterise the threat from certain members of the group.
The SPLC's designation of the Proud Boys as a hate group remains, though McInnes is suing the SPLC for defamation, saying the label has damaged his career.
Disturbing rise ahead of election
Despite being banned from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the Proud Boys have continued to attract new members and online followers.
In July 2018, the group had 160 members and up to 300 pending applicants, according to the unidentified Proud Boys LA president.
It's not clear how many members the group has now, but some estimates put it in the thousands, and people have shown support for the Proud Boys much farther afield than New York, where the Proud Boys was founded.
Chapters are known to exist in Canada, and the official Tommy Robinson Telegram channel has shared Proud Boy posts, according to Hope Not Hate.
The advocacy group claims this is part of a far-right bid to paint left-wing and anti-fascists as the real violent threat to society, at a time of record arrests for far-right terrorism in the UK.
Now fears are growing that the group has been emboldened by Trump's debate comments.
"Standing by sir," Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio wrote on social media after Trump's statement.
Other members shared pictures of the group's logo emblazoned with the President's words like a motto.
Alex Newhouse, a counter-terrorism and extremism expert, put the situation bluntly.
"As an extremism researcher, I can confidently say that telling militias, Proud Boys, and white supremacists to 'stand by' will be taken quite literally as a call to prep with civil war," he said.
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