Police Shrugged Off the Proud Boys, Till They Attacked the Capitol
Instead, he said in an interview, the agents asked about routes and other plans to separate the Proud Boys from the counter-protesters. Other times, he said, agents warned they had picked up potential left-wing threats against him or his employees.
But no one contacted the leaders of the Proud Boys before the January 6 event, Mr Tarrio said, even though their gatherings at previous Trump rallies in Washington had been marred by serious violence.
“You didn’t reach us,” he said.
‘Disavow, Disavow, Disavow’
In the summer of 2017, neo-Nazis, Klansmen and other white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to announce their resurgence in the Unite the Right rally. Its organizer, Jason Kessler, was a member of the Proud Boys.
The group was founded a year earlier by Gavin McInnes, now 50, the co-creator of the media company Vice. (The company has long since severed ties.) He was a Canadian New Yorker with a series of statements targeting feminists and Muslims, and he often expressed a semi-ironic appetite for chaos. “Can you call for violence in general?” he asked once in an online video. “‘Because I am.”
The Proud Boys had volunteered as bodyguards for right-wing fires like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, and they often encountered left-wing crowds, especially on college campuses. Proud Boy’s “free speech” rallies in bastions of the left like Seattle, Portland or Berkeley, California routinely ended in street fighting.
Still, Mr. McInnes avoided the Unite the Right gathering and said in an online video, “Deny, reject, reject.” According to him, the Proud Boys were not white supremacists, but merely “Western chauvinists”. This attitude helped the Proud Boys evade federal law enforcement control.