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Category Archives: Proud Boys

Call Attacks on Pride What They Are: Political Violence – The New Republic

Posted: June 20, 2024 at 3:57 am

Earlier this month, when an Austin brewery got a bomb threat specifically citing the drag brunch the brewery hosts, they made the decision to shut down for the day. The threat came via email to the Brewtorium Brewery & Kitchen on the day of their Legendary Drag Brunch and Market, claiming a pipe bomb had been placed in the restaurant office. The email reportedly also said, fuck drag queen scum. A few days later, Pride and Black Lives Matter signs were stolen from an Austin church. The associate pastor said it seemed like someone had run over the signs with their car. Texas has faced far-right and Christian-nationalist harassment of drag and Pride events in the state over the past several years, which at time has featured people invoking Christ as they taunted drag brunch attendees as groomers. The Texas state legislature also attempted to effectively ban drag in 2023, a ban that was ruled unconstitutional.

When police came to investigate the threat at the Brewtorium in Austin, they found no bomb. After a day full of back and forth with the Austin Police Department and an FBI liaison, it has been determined that we were most likely a victim of a hoax that has affected institutions in several major cities throughout the U.S. recently, the Brewtoriums owner said in a statement to Eater Austin. (In May, the FBI issued an advisory about possible threats to Pride, but it focused only on foreign terrorist organizations.) While no one was injured, the hoax bomb accomplished what such threats are meant to: shutting down events. Others may also consider whether Pride events are safe to host in the future.

Attacks targeting Pride events this year are not limited to states or communities with anti-LGBTQ legislation, or where Trump has a conspicuous base. This June, one week after Beverly Unitarian Church in Chicago held its first Pride event in its history, a Pride flag flying at the church was torn down and burned on the church lawn. In response to the attack, the congregation has added more Pride colors to the outside of the church, and theyve scheduled a second Pride event later this month. We are not going away. Our beliefs are not going away. Our trust in people is going away, Beth OGrady, chair of the church board of trustees, told the local CBS News outlet.

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Call Attacks on Pride What They Are: Political Violence - The New Republic

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Southern Poverty Law Center rebukes Chicago Police Department for lack of action for officers tied to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys – WLS-TV

Posted: May 15, 2024 at 10:03 pm

Southern Poverty Law Center rebukes Chicago Police Department for lack of action for officers tied to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys  WLS-TV

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Southern Poverty Law Center rebukes Chicago Police Department for lack of action for officers tied to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys - WLS-TV

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Top Cop Defends Investigation Into Officers for Ties to Proud Boys and Oath Keepers That Won’t Lead to Discipline – WTTW News

Posted: May 6, 2024 at 9:17 pm

Chicago police Supt. Larry Snelling speaks at a news conference May 3, 2024. (WTTW News)

Chicago police Supt. Larry Snelling on Friday defended the Chicago Police Departments most recent investigation into several police officers with documented ties to far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, the third to end without any of the officers being disciplined.

Six months ago, Snelling promised the Chicago City Councils Budget Committee that he would rid the Chicago Police Department of officers with ties to hate groups and far-right extremist organizations after stringent and thorough investigations.

However, none of the allegations examined by the Bureau of Internal Affairs were sustained, and the investigation has been closed, as first reported by WTTW News Thursday afternoon.

Police officials published the full investigatory report on the Chicago Police Departments website late Friday afternoon.

I can tell you that we have reached out to everyone, our internal affairs division has reached outto everyone, to gather information to determine if these officers were actually proven to be members of hate groups, Snelling said. So that information will be there for everyone to read.

Snelling also invited Inspector General Deborah Witzburg to examine the probe and give us feedback.

Under city ordinance, Witzburg has the authority to ask the Bureau of Internal Affairs to reopen investigations she determines were lacking in rigor or were incomplete.

In October 2022, CPD brass rejected a recommendation from Witzburg to fire an officer who lied about his ties to the far-right Proud Boys extremist group. Instead, that officer served a 120-day suspension.

In January, police brass rejected a separate recommendation from Witzburg to terminate an officer who admitted belonging to the Oath Keepers.

Both officers remain on active duty with the CPD, with each earning more than $100,000 annually, according to a city database.

During the probe closed in January, the Chicago Police Department officer admitted to being a former member of the Oath Keepers, having joined in 2010 or 2011 and having been a member for three to four years, according to the inspector generals report.

Despite that, department officials closed the probe finding that the allegation was not sustained even though the officer admitted belonging to an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nations best-known civil rights organizations, considers to be a far-right anti-government group.

Snellings remarks came in the questions portion of a news conference alongside Mayor Brandon Johnson and Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx on Friday morning to announce first-degree murder charges against a 22-year-old man in connection with the death of Chicago police Officer Luis Huesca.

Johnson did not directly answer a question from WTTW News about whether the decision by police officials to close the probe without disciplining any of the officers involved would make it more difficult for Chicagoans to trust the Chicago Police Department. The Proud Boys is an antisemitic, anti-gay, far-right group; the Oath Keepers has advocated for the U.S. government to be overthrown.

Members of both groups participated in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, and leaders of both groups have been convicted of seditious conspiracy.

Snelling called it misleading to tie the probe into Chicago police officers ties with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to Jan. 6, saying the probe started before Jan. 6. However, the probe CPD officials said on Thursday had been closed without disciplinary action began in October, nearly three years after the insurrection.

Johnson referred to the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys as unconscionable hate groups and pledged to do additional research into the issue, but acknowledged that there are very few courses of action that can be taken if investigators do not gather evidence of wrongdoing by the officers.

Johnson praised Snelling for being very intentional about paying attention to individuals who are bad actors who have displayed reprehensible behavior.

During the 2023 campaign for mayor, Johnson vowed to fire officers tied to far-right extremist groups. Johnson said Friday he stands by that promise but said officers can only be disciplined after an investigation that follows CPD rules.

A 2016 probe by the U.S. Department of Justice found that Chicago police officers were rarely held accountable for misconduct because of badly broken systems as well as a code of silence among officers that allowed them to act with impunity.

That investigation led to a federal court order, known as the consent decree, which requires the Chicago Police Department to change the way it trains, supervises and disciplines officers.

Five years after the consent decree took effect, CPD has fully met just 6% of the court orders requirements, according to the most recent report by the team monitoring the citys compliance.

Contact Heather Cherone:@HeatherCherone| (773) 569-1863 |[emailprotected]

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Top Cop Defends Investigation Into Officers for Ties to Proud Boys and Oath Keepers That Won't Lead to Discipline - WTTW News

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Proud Boys Leader Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for Seditious … – Department of Justice

Posted: September 11, 2023 at 12:15 pm

The former national chairman of the Proud Boys was sentenced today for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.

Henry Enrique Tarrio, 39, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced to 22 years in prison and 36 months of supervised release.

On January 6th, 2021, the United States Capitol was attacked, 140 law enforcement officers defending those inside were assaulted, and the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government a cornerstone of our democracy was interrupted, said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. The Justice Department proved in court that the Proud Boys played a central role in setting the January 6th attack on our Capitol into motion. Over the past week, four members of the Proud Boys received sentences that reflect the danger their crimes pose to our democracy. Today, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, learned that the consequence of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power is 22 years in federal prison.

Todays sentencing demonstrates that those who attempted to undermine the workings of American democracy will be held criminally accountable, said FBI Director Christopher Wray. The FBI will always protect those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. But we will never condone the actions of those who break our laws, and we will continue to work with federal prosecutors to ensure those perpetrators are held responsible.

No organization put more boots on the ground at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 than the Proud Boys, and they were at the forefront of every major breach of the Capitols defenses, leading the on-the-ground efforts to storm the seat of government, said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. The leaders of the Proud Boys and the leaders of the Oath Keepers, who conspired before, during, and after the siege of the Capitol to use force against their own government to prevent the peaceful transfer of power have now been held accountable.

On May 4, 2023, a jury found Tarrio and three other co-defendants of multiple felonies, including seditious conspiracy for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Previously sentenced in this matter were co-defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola. Nordean was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Biggs was sentenced to 17 years, Rehl was sentenced to 15 years, and Pezzola was sentenced to 10 years.

According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial, prior to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense, which included co-defendants Nordean, Biggs, and Rehl, conspired to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the Electoral College vote and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States.

In the days leading to Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio and the other leaders of the Ministry of Self Defense hand-selected members of the organization, including co-defendant Dominic Pezzola, to serve as rally boys during the attack on the Capitol. To prepare for the attack on the Capitol, Tarrio and the other leaders of the Ministry of Self Defense established a chain of command, chose a time and place for their attack, and intentionally recruited others who would follow their top-down leadership and who were prepared to engage in physical violence if necessary.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the group began their assault that day at 10:00 a.m. when Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, and others marched an assembled group of nearly 200 individuals away from speeches at the Ellipse and directly toward the Capitol. At 2:11 p.m., Pezzola smashed open a window, allowing the first rioters to enter the Capitol as Biggs and those with him entered close behind. Court documents say that Nordean, Biggs and Rehl, and the men they recruited and led, participated in every consequential breach at the Capitol that day.

As the events of Jan. 6, 2021, unfolded, Tarrio, who was monitoring the attack from afar as it unfolded, posted encouraging messages to his tens of thousands of social media followers, including the following messages: Proud of my boys and my country and Dont f****** leave. Tarrio privately claimed credit for the riot at the Capitol, telling Proud Boys senior leadership, Make no mistake . . . we did this. On Jan. 7, 2021, Tarrio addressed the Ministry of Self Defense members, telling them he was proud of yall.

During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly found that Tarrios conduct constituted an official act of terrorism and applied an enhancement to his final sentence.

The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case. The charges in the investigation are the result of significant cooperation between agents and staff across numerous FBI Field Offices and law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia, the Justice Departments National Security Divisions Counterterrorism Section, and the Justice Departments Criminal Divisions Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.

In the 31 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,106 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 350 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

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DeSantis and Ramaswamy Call Proud Boys’ Sentences ‘Excessive … – The New York Times

Posted: at 12:15 pm

At least two Republican presidential candidates are criticizing as excessive recent prison sentences for members of the far-right Proud Boys involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, casting the defendants as victims of an unfair justice system rather than leading participants in an effort to disrupt the peaceful transition of power.

Several sentences have been handed down in the past two weeks: 22 years for Enrique Tarrio, 15 and 17 years for Zachary Rehl and Joseph Biggs, and 10 and 18 years for Dominic Pezzola and Ethan Nordean. The Proud Boys were behind major breaches of the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the men who received the sentences played leading roles in planning the attack, executing it or both.

They just walked into the Capitol. If they were B.L.M., they would not have been prosecuted, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said of some defendants in an interview with Newsmax on Wednesday, adding that he would consider pardoning them.

Of others, he said, They may have been violent, but to say its an act of terrorism when it was basically a protest that devolved into a riot, to do excessive sentences you can look at, OK, maybe they were guilty, but 22 years if other people that did other things got six months?

Another candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, declared on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday in response to the sentences, This is wrong & its sad that Im the only candidate with the spine to say it. In a statement on Wednesday, he vowed to pardon all peaceful, nonviolent Jan. 6 participants and said, America now has a two-tiered justice system: Antifa and B.L.M. rioters roam free while peaceful Jan. 6 protesters are imprisoned without bail.

The vast majority of Jan. 6 defendants have been released on bail while awaiting trial, however, and their pretrial detention rate is significantly lower than the rate for the total population of federal defendants.

The suggestions by Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Ramaswamy that Jan. 6 rioters and conspirators were being punished more harshly than people who participated in Black Lives Matter protests align with Republicans broader grievances that the federal justice system has been weaponized against conservatives.

But most of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, when the movement reached a peak, were peaceful. An Associated Press investigation in 2021 found that, in the cases where they did turn violent, more than 120 defendants had either pleaded guilty or been convicted on federal charges such as rioting, arson and conspiracy.

Those who had been sentenced at the time of the A.P. investigation had received prison terms of a little over two years on average. But of the more than 1,100 cases related to Jan. 6, according to an NPR database, the median sentence for those who received prison time has been 120 days.

In the cases of Mr. Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders, the more serious charges of seditious conspiracy and the harsher sentences stemmed from their attempts to overturn a democratic election or prevent the government from carrying out essential business. Federal law defines seditious conspiracy as two or more people plotting to overthrow the federal government by force, to wage war against it, to seize federal property or to, by force, prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.

In one case Republicans have frequently pointed to in an attempt to compare Black Lives Matter protesters to Jan. 6 rioters, protesters clashed with police officers outside a federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., in July 2020, and at one point breached a fence; many of the protesters had charges dismissed or received short sentences. The court was not in session when the fence was breached, and nobody was in the building.

The Portland rioters conduct, while obviously serious, did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power, Carl J. Nichols, a district court judge in Washington who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wrote in denying a motion from a Jan. 6 defendant who had claimed to be a victim of selective prosecution. Nor did the Portland rioters, unlike those who assailed Americas Capitol in 2021, make it past the buildings outer defenses.

The defendant, Judge Nichols wrote, has failed to point to any Portland case that is similar to this one and in which the government made a substantially different prosecutorial decision.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting.

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DeSantis and Ramaswamy Call Proud Boys' Sentences 'Excessive ... - The New York Times

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Who Would Condemn a Community Rally Against the Proud Boys … – Saratoga TODAY Newspaper

Posted: at 12:15 pm

On August 13, 2023, people gathered in front of the Saratoga Springs downtown Post Office with, asreported by the Times Union, messages of tolerance and vociferous support for people of color, the LGBTQ community as well as Muslims, Jews, and other targets of the extreme right. The rally was prompted by a brief appearance downtown on August 5 by a group who identified themselves asthe Proud Boys.

One might ask, who would condemn a peaceful and earnest crowd calling for tolerance?

Oddly, the answer is the local group that identifies itself as Saratoga Black Lives Matter. In a lengthy and densely worded manifesto posted on their facebook page the group states:

we feel compelled to speak out against the.counter protest organized by individuals on Sunday.

[The entire BLM statement appears at the end of this post.]

Apparently one of the major objections BLM had to the rally organized by Linda LeTendre, a white woman, was the list of ground rules she announced for the event.

According to the Times Union

The group Sunday was peaceful and the proceedings began with a list of ground rules read aloud by the organizer, Linda LeTendre. Attendees were not to vandalize, use profanity, make threats of or engage in any physical violence.

In response, BLMs Statement called these ground rules counterproductive andunjust. They wrote on their facebook page:

Setting rules for participants to be respectful and friendly to law enforcement during a protestis deeply problematic.

According to BLM Ms. LeTendres ground rules constituted tone policing. By tone policing they apparently mean, requiring participants to speak civilly to each other and the community and eschewing intemperate foul language and making threats. They wrote:

Saratoga BLM understands that there is a clear divide between the strategies and goals of Black Liberation organizations versus many white social justice groups, however the language used when organizing this counter-rally was both counterproductive and unjust. Tone policing Black activists dismisses the deeply rooted emotions and righteous anger that arise from generations of systemic racism and oppression. Suppressing the raw and unfiltered expression of these feelings undermines the authenticity of our demands and detracts from the urgency of addressing the very issues we are protesting against.

-BLM Statement, August 17,2023

In their statement BLM also objects to the centering of white voices and their desires during the counter-protest. According to the manifesto, attempts by white people to organize against intolerance somehow suppresses those discriminated against in our society.

The BLM post asserts that elevating white voices to the front inadvertently creates an environment where privileged perspectives dominate, suppressing the agency and leadership of those who are most effected by the issues at hand.

And

It is vital to understand that centering white individuals in social justice movements does not merely reflect an innocent desire for inclusivity, it can result in profound consequences that hinder progress. Instead, the path forward involves actively listening to marginalized voices, amplifying their stories, and supporting their leadership.

While at one point their statement acknowledges that The struggle we are facing is a great one, whichrequires collective action they seem to be saying here that actions should only take place under their leadership, that white leadership of any movement or organization for social justice can hinder progress. Would this then in their view eliminate a white trans person, a white disabled person, a white Muslim, etc. from leadership positions or does this only apply to white women?

Without being specific BLM blames former Mayor Meg Kelly, former Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, and current Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino for the Proud Boys feeling..welcome in Saratoga Springs.

They wrote:

The actions taken by individuals such as Robin Dalton, Meg Kelly, and Jim Montagnino throughout their time in office are in direct connection to neo-nazi organizations feeling as though they are welcome to come into our communities to spread (sic) biggoted messaging.

BLM does not describe what specifically these three city officials have done to make the Proud Boys feel welcome nor do they explore why the Proud Boys also felt welcome in Waterford and Ballston Spa where they also marched on the same day. According to the press this particular group of Proud Boy belong to a Troy chapter which would seem to make Troy even more welcoming than Saratoga Springs. No sign of BLM calling out any of those city officials, though.

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Who Would Condemn a Community Rally Against the Proud Boys ... - Saratoga TODAY Newspaper

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Florida man connected to Proud Boys pleads guilty to assaulting police during Capitol riot – The Hill

Posted: August 26, 2023 at 4:03 am

A Florida man with ties to the Proud Boys pleaded guilty on Friday to assaulting police during the Capitol riot.

Zachary Johnson, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers at the Capitol, after reaching a plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, court documents show.

Johnson admitted in a statement of offense that he marched with a group to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, where they confronted Capitol Police manning metal barricades, overran the officers and the barricades, and moved toward the Capitol.

The 34-year-old was among the first rioters to enter restricted grounds on the day of the Capitol riot, the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., noted in a press release.

He later joined a crowd of other rioters pushing against Capitol Police officers in a passageway that connects the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol to the inside of the building — also known as the “Tunnel” — in a concerted rocking or heave-ho fashion, according to the statement of offense. 

Johnson also passed a canister of pepper spray to other rioters, which was ultimately used on Capitol Police officers.

Johnson is set to be sentenced on Nov. 30, according to court documents.

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Florida man connected to Proud Boys pleads guilty to assaulting police during Capitol riot - The Hill

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Vancouver Proud Boy gets prison for Portland rally riot – The Columbian

Posted: July 23, 2023 at 5:00 pm

A Vancouver member of the far-right Proud Boys group was sentenced Friday to nearly eight years in prison for charges in connection with an August 2021 rally in Portland that ended in violence.

In March, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge found Tusitala Tiny Toese guilty of two counts each of second-degree assault, third-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree criminal mischief and riot.

Toese was extradited from Clark County in March 2022 to face those charges.

Toese was a leader of the Aug. 22, 2021, Proud Boys event in east Portland that culminated in a furious exchange of pepper spray, projectiles and paint balls between the far-right group and anti-fascists near an abandoned Kmart, according to the Multnomah County District Attorneys Office.

The district attorneys office said Toese gave commands to his group to chase after fleeing counterprotesters and incited his group to shoot paintballs at them and assault them.

Toese used a baseball bat to break out the windows of a mans car carrying water that Toese claimed belonged to antifa.

Later, one of Toeses group members beat the man as he hid in his car, court records state.

The prosecutor told the judge Toese has a history of violence and said, Toese was filled with hatred toward antifa and played upon the passions of the Proud Boys to incite them to violence, the news release states.

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Vancouver Proud Boy gets prison for Portland rally riot - The Columbian

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‘Active club’ hate groups are growing in the U.S. and making … – NPR

Posted: at 4:59 pm

In this Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, white nationalist demonstrators clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. Steve Helber/AP hide caption

In this Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, white nationalist demonstrators clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va.

In late May, a group of young, male neo-Nazis converged outside a bookstore in Bozeman, Mont., to protest a drag queen story hour. Later that day, they hit another similar event in Livingston, Mont. The second weekend in June, the groups targeted the Lewis County Pride Festival in Centralia, Wash. A week after that, it was the Wind River Pride event in Lander, Wyo. And the following weekend, they were at Oregon City Pride, not far from Portland, Ore.

These men, dressed in tactical gear and masks, were members of so-called "active clubs" a term that may be relatively new to American audiences. They are a strand of the white nationalist movement that has grown quickly during the last three years and that has recently taken their message of hate into more public view. These decentralized cells emphasize mixed martial arts training to ready their members for violence against their perceived enemies.

Stephen Piggott, a researcher with the Western States Center, a national civil rights organization, has closely tracked their evolution in the Pacific Northwest.

"They are really focused on a couple of things," said Piggott. "One is centering, organizing and trying to recruit people through combat sports ... but also, preparing for political and racially motivated violence."

Those that protested those LGBTQ gatherings in the Pacific Northwest states call themselves the Northwest Nationalist Network; they have been among the most emboldened to bring their activities into the streets. But groups in Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have also been notably active. And recently, two new networks have been announced: The Dixie Alliance, for groups in Southern states, and the Midwest Network.

"These clubs are decentralized and they're forming on their own," said Morgan Moon, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, which estimates that there are active clubs now in at least 30 states. "We're starting to see [the active club model] pop up in Europe as well as Canada now."

Those who have closely tracked the active club scene in the U.S. largely attribute its establishment and growth to a single individual: Robert Rundo. Rundo, a self-professed fascist and white nationalist who frequently traffics in anti-Semitic tropes, has spent much of the last five years on the run from law enforcement. In the spring, he was arrested in Romania, and a court recently ordered that he be extradited to face charges in California for rioting and conspiring to riot at political rallies.

"What Rundo did was take a model of European far-right extremism: decentralized, [and] quite honestly, borrowing if not stealing from far-right football hooligan subcultures, right down to aesthetics and plopping that down into an American context as something new and innovative," said Michael Colborne, a researcher, investigator and journalist at the investigative journalism website Bellingcat. Colborne's investigations helped to uncover Rundo's whereabouts in Serbia in 2020 and 2021, and then in Bulgaria in 2022.

Rundo's alleged criminal activity in the U.S. dates back chiefly to 2017 and 2018, when he ran an active club in Southern California called the Rise Above Movement. Despite that crew's dissolution and his absence from the U.S. during the last several years, Colborne said Rundo has retained a central role in the growth of the active club scene. Rundo sells merchandising online and uses podcasts to instruct others on starting their own crews. Colborne said Rundo's advice to adherents centers on what he calls the "three F's" fashion, fitness and fighting.

"He really saw the power of that aesthetic, that power of bringing young men together into these hyper masculine subcultures where they could train up for physical combat against their their perceived ideological foes," said Colborne.

Rundo has also spent his time deepening trans-Atlantic ties with similar-minded hate groups. Colborne said he spotted Rundo at events hosted by ultranationalists in Budapest, Hungary, and Sofia, Bulgaria, in early 2020. These gatherings and connections have reinforced a common goal, said Colborne.

"It's not explicitly politically focused," he said. "It's about building ... what they perceive as a far-right countercultural movement to try to mainstream their ideas, their ideologies, their symbols, to make them more ... acceptable in society over time."

Active clubs are not the first instance where a decentralized model of crews for young men committed to becoming "white warriors" has been exported from Europe to the U.S. Almost four decades ago, the same happened with the neo-Nazi skinhead scene. In fact, Colborne said in some places, like Canada, active clubs have been established by former members of the white supremacist group Hammerskins.

"They are trying to cloak the very same neo-Nazi ideas that their [neo-Nazi skinhead] forbearers had with their jackboots and swastika T-shirts, you know, 10, 20, 30 years ago."

Colborne said Rundo's obsession with the aesthetics of active clubs has steered away from that imagery because ultimately, it didn't play well with American audiences. Plus, it could immediately attract law enforcement scrutiny particularly in Europe.

"In countries where there are some pretty open far-right scenes, like Serbia, you cannot display swastikas. You cannot be that obvious. You literally cannot do it in Germany or Austria because it's a crime," said Colborne.

"[Rundo] was very familiar with how far-right extremists across Europe had to be more clever and coy with the way that they were trying to communicate their ideas, and the way that they would try to spread their ideology."

Despite that, groups that have formed in the U.S. have taken their own approach on whether or not to openly embrace neo-Nazism.

"Their praise of National Socialist tenets and of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime is very apparent," said Piggott. "If you look at their social media, it's full of pro-Nazi, pro-Hitler rhetoric and and iconography."

Law enforcement detains and arrest 31 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front on suspicion of conspiracy to riot after they were removed from a U-Haul truck near the LGBTQ community's Pride in the Park event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last June. Jim Urquhart for NPR hide caption

At anti-LGBTQ gatherings during the last two months, active clubs in the U.S. have allied with other white nationalist organizations. Among those are Patriot Front, which saw 31 members arrested and charged with conspiring to riot at a Pride event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last summer. Also, White Lives Matter groups have reportedly attended "fight nights" hosted by active clubs in San Diego and in Washington state.

But not all far-right groups have welcomed the increased public activity of these crews. A viral video taken near the Oregon City Pride event last month showed Proud Boys, a violent neo-fascist group, beating members of an active club on a sidewalk. In the video, Proud Boys are heard calling the active club members "racists" and Nazis. The fight, which has been attributed to an interpersonal conflict between the groups, has opened up hostilities between the two extremist factions, mostly online.

Extremism experts caution that there is little comfort to take from seeing two far-right groups in conflict with each other. In this case, both had shown up in furtherance of the same cause: to intimidate members of the LGBTQ community at a Pride event. And the fact that both were there may signal a common perception that this moment in America, when anti-LGBTQ hostility is heightened, may be an opportunity to spread their extreme ideologies.

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'Active club' hate groups are growing in the U.S. and making ... - NPR

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Louisiana’s education chief to address extremist Moms for Liberty … – Louisana Illuminator

Posted: at 4:59 pm

Louisianas superintendent of education will speak to a local chapter of a national group a civil rights watchdog has identified as an extremist organization.

Cade Brumley, who oversees the states K-12 public schools, will be the featured speaker of the East Baton Rouge chapter of Moms for Liberty at its monthly meeting July 24. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has classified the chapter and its national organization as hate groups.

In a statement to the Illuminator, Brumley rejected the idea that the organization is a hate group.

It is wrong to characterize Baton Rouge moms as a hate group as they seek to be involved in their childs education, Brumley said. Parents are their childs first and foremost teacher and Im appreciative of their interest in the school system.

Brumley pointed to his track record of speaking with a broad range of groups about Louisianas education system.

I look forward to sharing educational successes and opportunities with the moms and hearing from them as well, Brumley added.

Moms for Liberty was founded in 2021 and quickly became a powerful voice on the far right. The group, which now has approximately 200 chapters across dozens of states, has advocated against COVID-19 safety measures in schools and has supported book bans and limiting discussion of gender and sexuality in K-12 schools.

SPLC and the news outlet Vice have reported Moms for Liberty has formed close ties with far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, a white nationalist organization.

A spokesperson for Brumley shared that he has spoken to the group before. According to The Center Square, Brumley sent a letter last year in support of Floridas Moms for Liberty organization.

I appreciate the advocacy your organization provides and your appreciation for education as a local enterprise; one where those closest to the children are best suited to make the best decisions, Brumley wrote in the letter. Children belong to their parents, not the government. Further, the parent is the childs first and foremost teacher.

In a series of recent social media posts, the East Baton Rouge Moms for Liberty chapter expressed support for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including two bills aimed at limiting the discussion of gender and sexuality in schools.

The group has also shared podcast episodes that claim sexual grooming is happening in schools through the teaching of critical gender theory and queer theory.

Critics have called out conservatives for misappropriating the term groomer, which typically refers to the behaviors sexual predators use to coerce potential victims, to characterize benign actions by LGBTQ+ people as harmful to children.

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Louisiana's education chief to address extremist Moms for Liberty ... - Louisana Illuminator

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