Who are the Proud Boys? – The Indian Express

Members of a far-right group, the Proud Boys, have been charged with seditious conspiracy for a “coordinated attack” on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The charges, which have come in an amended indictment by the US Justice Department, are the most aggressive action against the group as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 US presidential election.
Formed in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential polls, the Proud Boys are a far-right extremist group, as classified by the FBI. The group was created by Gavin McInnes, Vice Media co-founder and former commentator. McInnes argued that the group’s existence was necessary because of the society’s inability to let men be proud of Western culture. An all-male group, the ‘brotherhood’ would soon go on to have chapters in 46 US states. This, however, has not stopped women from supporting the outfit, which its founder once described as a “gang”.
According to the US-based Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organisation, there are 119 active Proud Boys chapters across 46 American states that are recognised by the national Proud Boys outfit.
Standford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation says that the Proud Boys “attend events with far-right organisations that advocate white supremacist and anti-government ideologies, though the Proud Boys leadership deny ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism….it (the group) advocates violence in readiness for civil war in the United States. Most of the group’s public activity involves protesting or attending political rallies and events, typically with the intent to provoke violence.”
The Canadian government had designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity after the US Capitol breach.
After the 2020 elections that then US President Donald Trump lost, the Proud Boys started what was termed as a “Stop the Steal” campaign.
With a series of events across American states, the campaign culminated in the January 6 US Capitol riot. On that fateful day in 2021, members of the group, some of them wearing orange hats, stormed the US Capitol building. The attack was aimed at preventing the certification of the 2020 election that Democrat candidate Joe Biden had won. A mob, over 2000-strong, occupied parts of the premises for several hours, while vandalising property and assaulting law enforcement officers. Before the attack and during the time it unfolded, more than 60 Proud Boys were reportedly communicating with each other through an encrypted messaging channel – “Boots on the Ground”.
What is the latest development?
The latest indictment has been brought against five members of the group. These include its former chairman Henry Tarrio.
It has been alleged that the Proud Boys conspired to forcibly oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power. Apart from Tarrio, the others who have been charged are Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. According to a CNN report, Nordean headed a local chapter, while Biggs was an self-proclaimed “organiser” of the outfit’s events. Rehl ran its Philadelphia chapter and Pezzola was a “New York Proud Boy”.
The seditious conspiracy charges are among the most serious filed so far.
Earlier in January, 11 members or associates of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia group, including its founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, were indicted on seditious conspiracy charges in the case. This Civil War-era charge calls for up to 20 years in prison.
The present development in the case has come when the US House committee investigating the Capitol riot is getting ready to begin public hearings in the matter.
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Saurabh KapoorHe works for The Indian Express…. read more

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