The Proud Boys is a white nationalist group, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) without their ceremonial white robes. This Alt-Right group took former President Donald Trump’s words “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by” as an endorsement. Many of their members were responsible for planning and carrying out a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.
Characteristics of Proud Boys
- The Proud Boys was founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnis.
- General Ideology is mainly Islamaphobic, misogynistic, anti-immigration, and transphobic.
- Proud Boys have modern-day uniforms. Instead of the KKK traditional white hood and robe, members wear yellow and black polo shirts manufactured by Fred Perry.
- There are chapters in almost every state in the U.S. and this Alt-Right group is branching out internationally with groups in Australia, Britain, and Norway.
- Members are routinely put through an initiation ceremony.
- Local chapter leaders control their own memberships.
- Very public protests and rallies are generally during the day and have turned violent. Many members have convictions for violent crimes.
McInnis founded Proud Boys during the 2016 presidential election, and claims they are a “Pro-Western Fraternity” and are nothing like the KKK. The group claims they are a social drinking club that celebrates anything that has to do with western culture.
The group’s founder declares he promotes male bonding, not white supremacy. While the group maintains they only act in self-defense, they have in reality taken part in many violent acts of intimidation.
On August 22, Proud Boys members from several states descended upon Portland, Oregon for a white supremacy rally. Things quickly turned violent when 30 or so members of an anti-fascist group showed up to stage a counter-protest. The conflict left several vehicles overturned, thousands of dollars in damages, and members of both groups hospitalized.
Characteristics of the KKK
- The KKK originated in Pulaski, Tennesee by six former Confederate soldiers on December 24, 1865.
- Attire was traditionally white robes and hoods that covered their face and shielded their identities.
- The KKK was against the reconstruction of the South and was very anti-government, so the organization was deemed illegal.
- Tactics of the KKK were the violent defense of white women and white supremacy.
- They practiced racism against Black people and used intimidation tactics.
- Very outspoken about white pride or white power.
- The original KKK was officially disbanded in 1869. However, by 1915 the organization reemerged and it continues today.
- General Nathan B. Forest was the Grand Wizzard of the KKK.
- Ulyssys S. Grant was the last U.S. President to own slaves.
- KKK Members were mainly Democrats fighting against the Republican’s political policies specifically geared to establish equality for African Americans.
In the 1800s, the country was going through its reconstruction era. After the North won the Civil war, laws were passed to create political and economical impartiality for Black Americans. This was a change that many people not just the KKK members in the South were resistant to, particularly older white men. These southern Democratic gentlemen waged warfare against Black and White Republican leaders with violent tactics meant to intimidate them.
Although the KKK disbanded before the twentieth-century white supremacy never went away. In the 1900s, KKK supporters formed smaller groups and organized marches, rallies, parades, and burned crosses all aimed to speak out against not only African Americans, but also Jewish, and Catholic religious people, immigrants, and organized labor.
The KKK caught undressed as the Proud Boys because they have many similarities to the KKK. Both have the same ideologies and violent intimidation techniques. On Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, the F.B.I. and the Michigan police department announced they arrested six individuals who were planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. These individuals are members of an anti-government militia that was set off by Whitmer’s mask mandate to control surging cases of COVID-19.
There is no evidence to date that the group was part of the Proud Boys or subscribes to KKK beliefs, but they do have similar ideologies. According to Whitmer, every time Trump makes a comment about her, there is an increase in violent online posts.
An online newspaper in North Carolina published an article stating that a notorious self-acclaimed Proud Boy Chadwick Seagraves was in the middle of a lawsuit for allegedly doxing over a thousand left-wing activists. More than 2,100 files dribbled out on social media and more than half of those led back to Seagraves. After a small portion of data was uploaded to a famous white supremacist site, messages poured in. Some demanded the whole list, others made threats of violence.
The Proud Boys claim to be a midwestern fraternity, but their actions say they are a political right-wing white supremacist group whose characteristics mimic that of the KKK. The group also claims not to be violent unless provoked but uses violence, intimidation, and threats in an attempt to persuade people to go along with them.
Written by Katherine Miller
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
History.com: Klu Klux Klan
The New York Times: Far-Right Group that Trades in Political Violence Gets a Boost; by Neil MacFarquhar, Alan Feuer, Mike Baker, and Sheera Frenkel
Anti-Defamation League: Proud Boys
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Albert Mock’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Chad Davis’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License