Left: Auburn WA Proudboy Ethan Nordean chokes a counter-protester on the ground, Center: Russell Schultz attacks a community member standing up for reproductive rights and healthcare in front of a Planned Parenthood in Olympia WA, Right: Tusitala “Tiny” Toese punches a counter-protester at Joey Gibson’s anti-immigrant hate rally in downtown Portland.
Rose City Antifa, working in conjunction with allied groups in the region, have obtained information on many of the Pacific Northwest-located members of the white nationalist, alt-right group known as the Proud Boys. Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of articles detailing the Proud Boys’ specific brand of organized hate, and the individuals who make up this rising “weekend warrior” gang, in order to alert the community about the threat that this group poses. You can follow along on our website and on Twitter, using the hashtag #DoxxAllYourBoys.
Vancouver, WA Proud Boy Donovon Flippo models the group’s signature black and gold Fred Perry uniform. The Fred Perry brand has denounced the Proud Boys as “counter to our beliefs and the people we work with.”
How a Bigoted White Nationalist Group Convinced Themselves They Were Just a Club
The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by notorious misogynist and anti-semite Gavin McInnes. Via the increasing number of far-right rallies over the last couple years, the Proud Boys have risen to beer-soaked, bigoted prominence. At these far-right rallies, the members of the Proud Boys are given free reign to attack anti-fascist activists and other community members, creating space for more overtly fascist groups to organize, acting as de facto body guards for groups like Identity Europa, Cascade Legion, Daily Stormer Book Clubs, Patriot Front, and other white nationalist and fascist groups and individuals.
After Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson’s own gang of enforcers, Warriors for Freedom LLC (aka American Freedom Keepers, aka American Freedom Warriors) dissipated following allegations that Gibson stole money and resources from other members, many of those former street fighters became Proud Boys, and that group picked up the task of beating up activists on behalf of Gibson. The Proud Boys are currently one of the largest and most active groups among the various nationalist and racist groups taking part in Joey Gibson’s far-right rallies.
Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, whose Samoan heritage is often used as proof that the Proud Boys cannot be fascist, claims that he will defend Identity Europa in this Facebook conversation with Pacific Northwest fascists Rosario Sicario and Cliff Bergstrom.
Northwest Proud Boys flock around anti-semite Tim Gionet, Joey Gibson’s invited guest, at the June 4th 2017 rally. At that rally, Gionet led participants in the recitation of the white supremacist shibboleth, “the fourteen words.”
The Proud Boys often defy explanation by mainstream political commentators who would take them at their word, because they do not claim to be an overtly fascist organization and deny harboring racist views. Proud Boys continually point toward their few non-white members to deflect the label of “hate group” they’ve earned from liberal watchdog groups like the SPLC. This ridiculous routine (as if a person is only racist if they claim to be, and has never been in a photo with a person of color) allows them to inflate the lie that they are not bigots or nationalists, despite extensive evidence to the contrary.
McInnes has argued that the Proud Boys are the revitalization of an American tradition, a lineage that can be traced back to 19th-century fraternal orders like the Shriners, the Knights of Columbus and the violent anti-immigrant political party, the Know-Nothings. The odd and archaic rituals McInnes included in the Proud Boys’ organizational structure serve as distractions from their far-right politics and violent behavior. The ubiquitous black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, the rooster logo, and the tier of “degrees” make it seem as if being a Proud Boy is just being a member of a social club. But in looking at those degrees, we see a hint of content behind the foolishness.
- The first “degree” of Proud Boy membership is a public declaration that the member is a western chauvinist, and subscribes to the violent nationalism of the group.
- The second “degree” of Proud Boy membership is a ridiculous “beat-in” ritual, in which the member is tickled by other Proud Boys while naming breakfast cereals.
- The third “degree” of Proud Boy membership is getting a Proud Boy tattoo.
- The fourth “degree” of Proud Boy membership is technically to have “endured a major conflict related to the cause,” but what that actually means is attacking an anti-fascist or other activist. The fourth degree used to quite literally describe that fact, but has since been obscured by McInnes for liability reasons.
But the use of absurdity and obscurity is not unique in the far-right. Another men’s club from the era of McInnes’ nostalgia, the first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, invented deliberately absurd ranks and titles (Grand Cyclops, Imperial Wizard), and rituals to both intimidate and entertain.
While their promoted activities focus on dumb inside jokes, binge drinking, and sloppy brawling, this “frat boy” facade glosses over an implicit ideology that is very apparent in the political speech and affiliations of their members, as well as in the targets of their assaults.
“Western Chauvinism” equals “White Pride”
The Proud Boys form a central pillar of the current alt-right movement in large part because their patented dog-whistle, “Western Chauvinism,” functions as an effective, but less explicit, articulation of white supremacist ideology. Their homophobic, transphobic, anti-immigrant, anti-semitic, and anti-Islamic beliefs are justified by their “pride” in “the west” having “founded civilization–” ignoring the obvious fact that all of the people they despise have been part of civilizations since long before anyone identified such a thing as “Western culture.” Their vision of a “west” without queer and trans people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and people of color, reveals their notion of “western pride” for what it really is: the same politic Nazi groups call “White Identitarianism,” or “White Pride.” The Proud Boys’ views are identical to those of openly fascist groups such as Identity Europa and Patriot Front. Belief in this ideology of Western Chauvinism is a requirement for membership in the Proud Boys. Like other fascist groups, the Proud Boys organize around the perception that this fantastical, preeminent “West” is losing its natural position of dominance. Openly white supremacist groups label this same myth of losing ground “white genocide.” Regardless of what they call these ideas, both groups agree that this allegedly lost power must be re-claimed and defended through violence, directed at whomever they deem to be enemies or usurpers of their culture.
Proud Boys Pacific Northwest Facebook page posts a “white genocide” meme.
Proud Boys Seattle Facebook page openly posts white supremacist conspiracy theory of “white genocide”.
Violence is the fuel in the ideological engine of a far-right group like the Proud Boys. Like many white nationalist groups, their public exhibitions of power, expressed in violence and the threat of violence, draws in other power-seeking men. It becomes a way to reinforce their understanding of social order, at the same time as they attack their enemies, and instill fear in the general public.
This driving force of violence can be found in many of their members’ political speech. Violence towards women, in both action and speech, becomes a bonding activity for a chauvinist member of the group. Founder McInnes’s own misogyny is well documented throughout his tenure at Vice Magazine. More recently McInnes, in grotesque terms, expressed agreement with alt-right pop psychologist Jordan Peterson’s proposed programs of “enforced monogamy” to exert control over women’s autonomy. The Proud Boys oppose access to abortion and women’s health resources. Like many fascists, they use myths of “traditional” sexual orientation and gender roles to impose control over women, and as a rationale in targeting feminist activists for violence. They substitute the sanitized phrase “venerating the housewife” to mask their intent to eliminate women’s civil rights and bodily autonomy. In the Northwest, Proud Boys are frequent participants in anti-choice demonstrations and have attacked activists who oppose their intimidation tactics outside of reproductive healthcare providers such as Planned Parenthood. A number of the NW Proud Boys have been charged with domestic violence and assault, as our forthcoming articles will soon show. And threaded through the physical violence, their rallying cry, “Proud of Your Boy,” makes it clear that what drives their actions is their belief in a society in which men hold power over women, and enforce that hierarchy through assaults and slander.
Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese misgendering women in order to justify assaulting them.
Proud Boy Anthony Edward Bell and commenters misgender and mock a woman activist.
Proud Boy Donovon Flippo equates mass murder at high schools with a woman’s right to choose.
Proud Boys Pacific Northwest post a speech glorifying so-called “traditional lifestyles” by alt-right demogogue Lauren Southern.
Proud Boy Pete Venturo makes a questionable “music” video in which he equates anti-fascism with women, and suggests that being beaten by Proud Boys is gender equality.
Homophobia and Transphobia
Women are only one of the Proud Boys’ many targets. From African-Americans, to vegetarians, to trans and queer people, to activists working on any number of causes, Proud Boys find all these at-risk communities to be a simultaneous excuse and outlet for their violence in defense of “Western civilization.”
Proud Boys Pacific Northwest’s obsession with urine grows to paranoid levels.
Homophobia and transphobia are two of the most concerning categories of bigotry that the Proud Boys express. They have consistently singled out people they believe are gay or trans at protests as targets for assault and subsequent online harassment. One of the Proud Boys, in a speech to fellow Proud Boys at Joey Gibson’s June 3, 2018 rally, exhorted the crowd to “show these f—–s what we’re made of,” before rushing into the crowd to attack anti-fascist activists. Their predilection toward such hateful slurs evokes an ugly history of persecution for many LGBTQ people today, these words having only recently become socially unacceptable in mainstream culture. Homophobia and transphobia are not just “political opinions.” The bigoted and dehumanizing statements are intimately linked to real-world acts of violence, including the Proud Boys’ own long record of assaults. The cycle of hatred and violence creates a vicious feedback loop.
The Willamette Week quotes a Proud Boy on June 3, 2018
Proud Boy Jake Farmer expresses typical homophobia.
Proud Boy Kory Bentley displays uncreative transphobia.
Proud Boy Robert Zerfing manages to combine transphobia and a veiled threat of violence into one meme.
The Pacific Northwest Proud Boy page uses transphobia to belittle their political opponents.
The Proud Boys’ racism comes out in full force when discussing immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans. Whether portrayed in a meme, or as a justification for violence, the effect is the same. The Proud Boys political ideology is clear, no matter how many times they attempt to disavow their racism. As shown above, alongside garden-variety Trump-era anti-immigrant hatred, the group frequently shares “white genocide” clickbait describing a false threat to the existence of white Americans (and Europeans). The Proud Boys’ “Western chauvinist” narrative also includes racist arguments about the inferiority and danger of Black culture in the U.S. and “Islamism” internationally. They occasionally valorize individual black and brown people who they view as having sufficiently rejected progressivism and a so-called “victim mindset,” but refer to NFL players protesting the murder of Black people by police as “ingrates” and “degenerates.” Their fondness for memes and articles that depict fanaticized mobs of immigrants, Muslims, Black people, etc. raping and killing white women is straight out of the playbook of white nationalist organizations, a narrative long used as an excuse for violence and murder. In the Proud Boys’ ideology, people of color are only acceptable so long as they aren’t considered a threat to “Western” (aka white) culture and supremacy. Their cavalier racism is also evident in their mocking adoption of the Swahili word “uhuru”, an expression of freedom– the Proud Boy chant parodies the speech of Black gay activist Gazi Kodzo.
Pacific Northwest Proud Boys depict Islam as a threat to white culture.
Pacific Northwest Proud Boys refer to NFL players as ingrates and degenerates.
Proud Boys quick switch between joking about race, as in this meme…
…and then move on to using clear alt-right racist dog-whistles, such as subbing out ethnic groups for “orcs” in this meme.
Jacob Farmer shares a meme that hits on just about every category of bigotry he can think of, including homophobia, racism, and anti-semitism.
Deliberate Targeting of Anti-Fascist Activists
While the Proud Boys brag openly about their violence toward women, minorities, and people of targeted sexual and gender identities, it is not enough to take them at their word for it. We also must also look at the actual political violence they perpetrate in our communities. Although the Proud Boys did not officially attend the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 where activist Heather Heyer was murdered by a Vanguard America member (that group has since been renamed Patriot Front), Jason Kessler, one of the fascist organizers of that rally, was a member of the Proud Boys. At every far-right rally that the Proud Boys attend, they assault anti-fascists, acting as the vanguard for these racist organizations. Their actions do not just speak for their own group but are part of a wider campaign of violence against at-risk communities and anti-fascist activists that has been stepping up since the 2016 presidential election.
On June 3, 2018, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, Donovon Flippo, and Caleb Stevens assault anti-fascist activists.
On June 3, 2018, Proud Boy Donovon Flippo and white nationalist Allen Puckett assault an activist they have cornered in a parking garage.
On June 3, 2018, Jacob Farmer sprays bear mace at activists, while Federal police look on.
Caleb Stevens threatens violence on his Facebook page.
In case the last image might be thought to be a joke, in this post, Caleb Stevens celebrates having beaten a protester at the Portland waterfront on September 10, 2017.
Proud Boy Jacob Farmer openly advocates for a general state of war.
Proud Boys Are Not Welcome
The communities of the Northwest will not tolerate violent white nationalists like the Proud Boys on our streets. Over the next few weeks, Rose City Antifa will be releasing detailed information on many of the Proud Boys in Oregon and Washington, so that locals can stay safe from these violent bigots. The first installment will come tomorrow. You can follow along on our website and on Twitter, using the hashtag #DoxxAllYourBoys.
Rose City Antifa will continue to defend our city and our communities against any incursion by racists and fascists. If you have information about Proud Boy or other white supremacist organizing, please email us at [email protected]