|Named after||"Proud of Your Boy"|
|Type||Far-right men's organization|
Proud Boys is a far-right men's organization with presences in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It was founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder and former commentator Gavin McInnes. McInnes describes the group as a "pro-Western fraternal organization" for men who "refuse to apologize for creating the modern world." Proud Boys has been described as both alt-right and alt-lite; McInnes has denied the group is alt-right.
Origin of the Name 'Proud Boys'
In 2016, the song Proud of Your Boy, a song cut from the soundtrack for the film Aladdin, became a running theme on The Gavin McInnes Show, a podcast hosted by Anthony Cumia's Compound Media. McInnes, a right-wing media personality, was exposed to the song at a children's talent show in December 2015 and took immediate dislike to the perceived "fake, humble, and self-serving" nature of the lyrics. The song has been played in its entirety on the show on several occasions, and is frequently referenced by callers and in-studio guests. When McInnes founded the Proud Boys organization in 2016, he named it in response to the song.
According to their own publications, members of the Proud Boys are men who support the tenet that "the West is the Best," which the group defines with the term "Western chauvinism". The organization's website say it does not discriminate based on on race, sexual orientation, or sexual preference.
The Proud Boys have a four-degree initiation process for new members. In the first degree, a recruit must declare "I am a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world." The second degree involves five or more Proud Boys punching the recruit until he names five breakfast cereals. To earn the third degree, the recruit must get a Proud Boy tattoo. The Proud Boys' website says that the fourth degree is reserved for those who have "endured a major conflict related to the cause." The Southern Poverty Law Center has said this requires the recruit to get into a physical fight with an Antifa activist at a public rally.
The Proud Boys have adopted a black Fred Perry polo shirt with yellow piping as their unofficial uniform. Fred Perry was previously associated with the Mod subculture and skinhead groups, including the British National Front. Fred Perry's CEO John Flynn denounced the affiliation with the Proud Boys in a statement to CBC Radio saying, "We don't support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with."
New York University
In February 2017, McInnes arrived at New York University to give a speech, accompanied by a group of about ten Proud Boys. Minor scuffles broke out between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters, and the NYPD said that eleven people faced criminal charges. One member of the Proud Boys encouraged others to fight the "faggots wearing black that won't let us in", and was later arrested for punching a reporter from DNAinfo.
2017 Berkeley protests
At the 2017 March 4 Trump rally in Berkeley, California, Kyle Chapman was recorded hitting a counter-protester over the head with a wooden dowel. Images of Chapman went viral, and the Proud Boys organized a crowdfunding campaign for Chapman's bail after his arrest. After this, McInnes invited Chapman to become involved with the Proud Boys, through which he formed the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights.
On April 15, 2017, a Patriot's Day rally was organized in Berkeley by the Liberty Revival Alliance, which did not seek or receive a permit, and was attended by members of the Proud Boys. Violence broke out between protestors and counter-protesters, with over 20 people arrested and 11 injured.
Disruption of Halifax Indigenous Peoples' Protest
On July 1, 2017, five Canadian Armed Forces members who self-identified as Proud Boys disrupted a protest organized by Indigenous activists, in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada Day. General Jonathan Vance, the head of the CAF, later stated that the five would be removed from training and duties as the military investigated and reviewed the circumstances surrounding their actions. General Vance also indicated that the members could possibly be released from the CAF permanently. Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of the Maritime Fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy, was "personally horrified" by the incident and said the Proud Boys were "clearly a white supremacist group and we fundamentally stand opposed to any of their values."
On August 14, 2017, the CAF confirmed that the investigation had been concluded. Later that month, Newton announced that four of the members had returned to duty, stating that the CAF had taken "appropriate measures to address individual shortcomings" and warning, "Any further inappropriate behavior could result in their termination from the Canadian Armed Forces."
Unite the Right rally
In June, McInnes disavowed the then-upcoming Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Proud Boys were at the August 2017 alt-right event, which was organized by far-right activist Jason Kessler. Kessler had joined the Proud Boys some time before organizing the event. McInnes said he had kicked Kessler out after his views on race had become clear. Alex Michael Ramos, one of the men convicted for the assault of DeAndre Harris which took place at the rally, was associated with the Proud Boys and Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights. After the rally, McInnes wrote on the Proud Boys website that neither the Proud Boys nor the Alt-Knights were alt-right.
Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights
In 2017, Kyle Chapman, nicknamed "Based Stickman" due to the aforementioned wooden dowel incident, formed a paramilitary wing of the Proud Boys called the "Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights" (FOAK). Alt-right figure Augustus Sol Invictus acted as FOAK's second-in-command until he left the group.
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