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Friday, May 7, 2021

Proud boys deemed hate group

By Zoe Deal

The FBI has recently categorized Proud Boys as an extremist group “with ties to White Nationalism,” according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs report. Federal authorities are warning local law enforcement that the group is actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest.

Self-defined as Western chauvinists, or aggressive patriots, the group “longs for the days when ‘girls were girls and men were men,’” according to their website.

Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes pioneered the group during the 2016 presidential election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Since then, the group has spread across the nation, appearing alongside hate groups at protests.

The Bellingham chapter of Proud Boys gained notoriety in 2017 when they spread flyers downtown.

A man wearing a gray hoodie and glasses holds a Proud Boys flier.
Community organizer Edgar Franks with the Proud Boys flier he found downtown on April 30, 2017. // Photo by Kirstyn Nyswonger

According to a previous Western Front article, the flyers read: “We glorify the entrepreneur. We venerate the housewife. We cherish free speech. We love our guns.”

In a 2017 interview with the Front, Bellingham resident and Proud Boys member Aaron Laigaie said potential members are vetted to ensure they aren’t racist or white supremacists.

David Burghart, a founder of the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, said this is far from the truth.

“No matter what claims they make regarding that they’re not racist, the arguments that they’re putting forward, and the ideas that they’re promoting are in fact grounded in racism,” he told the Front in May 2017.

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