FBI officially brands white nationalist Proud Boys an extremist group, document says

The FBI says its warning law enforcement across the country about the white nationalist, all-male group

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 19 November 2018 23:33 GMT
Proud boys: Police arrest first individual affiliated with far-right group after violent New York event

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The FBI has described the Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism” in a recent document produced by Washington State sheriffs.

Erin Willey, an ex-deputy who was fired in July after photos surfaced online of her donning a “Proud Boys Girls” sweatshirt was being investigated by the Clark county sheriff's department and the document was part of that investigation.

“The FBI categorises the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism,” an executive summary of the report read. “The Proud Boy Girls ae believed to be ab affiliate group of women who openly support the ideology of the Proud Boys. The FBI Seattle office is unaware of how many female members are active in the Pacific Northwest.”

The summary continued, “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”

Michael McCabe, a commander at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office who authored the report, confirmed in an interview with The Guardian on Monday that the FBI had confirmed it classified Proud Boys as an extremist group during a briefing held on 2 August in the county’s western precinct.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre has also labelled the all-male Proud Boys a hate group, but the Proud Boys reject that classification and describe themselves as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologise for creating the modern world.”

Members of the group brawled with anti-fascist protesters following a speech by its founder Gavin McInnes at a Manhattan Republican club last month, resulting in arrests of both Proud Boys’ members and anti-fascists.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, criticised the statewide Republican Party for inviting Mr McInnes.

The group sent his offices a package containing an informational brochure about Proud Boys that was initially believed to be part of the suspicious packages containing explosives sent to prominent Democrats and CNN, though it was eventually determined not to be linked.

The group was banned last month from Facebook and Instagram because of policies against hate groups, the company announced, saying in a statement, “Our team continues to study trends in organized hate and hate speech and works with partners to better understand hate organisations as they evolve.”

The loss of the platforms will likely hurt the Proud Boys’ ability to recruit. The Southern Poverty Law Centre reported in August that regional Proud Boys chapters were vetting new members through private Facebook chatrooms.

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The Clark County briefing appeared to be the first time on public record the FBI had acknowledged Proud Boys as an extremist group, after activists and civil rights groups pushed for the classification for months.

During that meeting, FBI officials reportedly discussed how to tracks hate and extremist groups, adding they “have been warning [local law enforcement] for a while” about the group, “not just in Washington but around the nation.”

The AP contributed to this report.

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