News Coronavirus The Proud Boys: Meet the extremist group told by Donald Trump to ‘stand by’
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The Proud Boys: Meet the extremist group told by Donald Trump to ‘stand by’

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If you want to know who the Proud Boys are, just ask its founder Gavin McInnes.

“We will kill you,” he said on his podcast show in 2018.

“That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell.”

The right-wing group was thrust into the spotlight this week after US President Donald Trump instructed them to “stand back, stand by” when asked if he would denounce white supremacism during his first debate against Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday.

A Proud Boys rally in Portland, Oregon, last week. Photo: Getty

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Mr Trump said.

“But I’ll tell you what … somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

On Thursday, Mr Trump dialled back his comments, claiming on Thursday (Australian time) that he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were.

“I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” he said.

Meet the Proud Boys

Contrary to what their name suggests, the Proud Boys are a group of adult men.

It is based in the US and has chapters in Australia, Canada and Britain.

They have a strict all-male membership policy, and believe feminism is “cancer”, though some women support the cause.

In 2018, the FBI declared it was an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”

Armed members of the far-right Proud Boys groups. Photo: Getty

Mr McInnes, a British-born Canadian political commentator, describes the Proud Boys as a “pro-Western fraternity” and drinking club dedicated to male bonding and the celebration of Western culture.

But simply being a man won’t be enough to get you through the door.

If you’re gay or transgender, you’ll be ridiculed – then rejected.

And if you’re Muslim or an immigrant, keep walking. Fast.

The Proud Boys is an exclusive club, created to defend what it believes is the most oppressed group of all: Heterosexual, mostly white, “biological” men.

Mr McInnes, 50, claims white men are “under siege” and are made to feel ashamed of themselves.

Perhaps ironically, he believes women and other historically oppressed groups too often play the victim card.

During one of his shows, Mr McInnes suggested some women claimed they were sexually assaulted to become celebrities.

On another, he said a female writer who had criticised him was “out to destroy men, because men didn’t impregnate her”.

A Proud Boys member at a rally near Black Lives Matter protesters in Oregon. Photo: Getty

Appetite for violence

The Proud Boys is widely understood to be a hate group that uses violence to make their voices heard.

Members frequently organise white supremacist rallies, waving flags, fists and signs spruiking right-wing views.

They channel this same energy into disrupting anti-racism or anti-fascism demonstrations, often getting into violent and bloody brawls with protesters.

Several Proud Boys member have been convicted of violent crimes, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

On Thursday, American member Alan Swinney was arrested and held in the Multnomah County Jail on charges of assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

The 50-year-old was arrested just hours after Mr Trump called on the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”, raising concerns his words were interpreted as encouragement.

One of the group’s members has already rebranded the Proud Boys logo to include “STAND BACK STAND BY” according to a screenshot of a Telegram channel.

A social-media account affiliated with the Proud Boys also began promoting T-shirts marked “Proud Boys Standing By”.

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