Less than a year after being endorsed by Trump, the Proud Boys have started to dissolve, claiming that they’ve done nothing wrong.
Back in September 2020, then-President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”, in response to Presidential-debate moderator Chris Wallace asking him to take a stand against white supremacist groups in America.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, 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. This is a left-wing problem,” Trump said in response.
A self-described “Western chauvinist” organisation, the Proud Boys are defined by the Anti-Defamation League as a “violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group.”
In February, Canada said the group posed an active security threat and played a “pivotal role” in the deadly attack on the US Capitol in January by pro-Trump rioters. US authorities have charged several members of the Proud Boys in connection with the insurrection of January.
The group, which was founded by a Canadian, has now dissolved itself, claiming it had done nothing wrong, according to a statement by the organisation.
“The truth is, we were never terrorists or a white supremacy group,” the statement posted by the administrator of the official Proud Boys channel on Telegram said.
It’s worth noting that Proud Boys members marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have organised against Black Lives Matter protests in recent months. The group also popped up in a rally in Portland, some armed.
NBC News spoke to Megan Squire of Elon university who tracks online extremism, and she believes that Trump’s endorsement aligns with the group’s coveted “fantasy”.
“To say Proud Boys are energized by this is an understatement,” Squire said. “They were pro-Trump before this shoutout, and they are absolutely over the moon now. Their fantasy is to fight Antifa in his defence, and he apparently just asked them to do just that.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a tweet that the president’s answer was “astonishing.”
“President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation,” he said. “Now.”
Yeah, America while deserves an explanation, one can assume it will follow along the lines of “apology” in the wake of Trump calling QAnon conspiracy theorists (who believe that paedophiles and Satanists run the world, and shot up a pizza-parlour to shut down a child-sex ring that didn’t exist) as “people that love our country.”
As NBC Boston noted at the time, “Within minutes, dozens of Instagram users began celebrating Trump’s acknowledgement of the conspiracy theory at the White House podium, uploading videos of him.
‘Well we’ve been waiting for this moment for a while, to put it mildly, thank you @realDonaldTrump,’ one Instagram user wrote to her 19,000 followers in a post of Trump’s exchange. The video was viewed more than 1,000 times in just 30 minutes.
‘Holy Smokin Q,’ another tweeted. ‘Our President was asked 2 questions about the Qanon movement TODAY!! We LOVE you, President Trump.’
On Parler, a right-wing platform popular with some Trump supporters, one Qanon supporter posted a photo of Trump and a bald eagle.”