Proud Boys aren’t “standing down” or “standing by”- they’re organizing to support Trump

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On March 5, 15 states held presidential primaries, a day commonly referred to as “Super Tuesday.” Incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden won every state except for American Samoa, and Republican Donald Trump emerged the victor against former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, winning 764 delegates to her 43, leading to Haley suspending her campaign. The Proud Boys, a white nationalist and chauvinistic organization infamous for their role in the January 6 Capitol attack, didn’t sit out the election. They sent their endorsements to Trump, celebrated his wins, and, in one case, publicly organized at polls to ensure his victory. 

The Proud Boys are no strangers to violent, targeted actions against their political opponents. 2020 saw an increase in Proud Boys’ activity, including countering the racial justice protests that began after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. That year, the Armed Conflict and Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) found that 97 of the 152 demonstrations attended by Proud Boys were explicitly in support of former President Trump. In January 2021, one of the Proud Boys’ founders, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in Washington, D.C. on charges of destruction of property following a gathering of Proud Boys on December 12, 2020, when four churches were vandalized and several Black Lives Matter banners were destroyed.

In June 2023, the Proud Boys, along with several other extremist groups, were responsible for many of the threats, disruptions, and sometimes violence at LGBTQ+ events during Pride Month. Later that month, Proud Boys fell into disarray following a street fight with other white supremacists, with several chapters turning to infighting with each other and other white supremacist groups, but it’s clear they’re now unifying behind Trump, and taking direct action to ensure his re-election.

This week, the Proud Boys looked more like the Proud Boys of 2020 and took a more direct role in the elections. The Cape Fear Proud Boys, based in North Carolina, issued a statement on how their followers should vote in the New Hanover and Pender counties, explicitly endorsing Trump as their preference along with several other candidates. They also organized an “election integrity crew,” which consisted of “poll [watchers]” to monitor ballots for any discrepancies. There was only one public instance of their “election integrity crew” supposedly finding a seat missing on a ballot, before issuing a statement correcting their observation, as the seat was only available to be voted on in a specific district. Following the elections, the Cape Fear Proud Boys declared they had “some big wins” and their poll-watching served as “an excellent trial run for the general election in November.” 

The Cape Fear Proud Boys shared a sample ballot for how their supporters should vote in New Hanover County, including former President Trump along with several other recommendations. (Source: Telegram)

Several other Proud Boys chapters joined in celebrating the results, including Proud Boys Long Island, Proud Boys Ohio, Proud Boys Columbus, and the Toledo Proud Boys. The Long Island chapter shared a post celebrating Haley suspending her campaign by suggesting she “will probably endorse Biden and start an only fans (sic),” a misogynistic jab at Haley since OnlyFans is stereotypically known for being a social media platform used by sex workers. Both the Ohio and local Columbus chapters shared a video endorsing Trump with the caption “💥Trump 2024💥Because fuck you. Twice.” The Toledo Proud Boys shared a video posted by “Thomas Reed,” a QAnon influencer on Truth Social and Twitter, in which he told his audience “how far [he’s] willing to go for his children” against the “deep state” before expressing his loyalty to Trump no matter “how bad it gets.”

The Ohio and Columbus Proud Boys chapters share a video endorsing Trump for President in 2024 (Source: Telegram)

As the federal election draws near, the Proud Boys and other election denial groups’ threat to democracy cannot go unnoticed. January 6 served as a stark reminder of the harms caused by extremist involvement in the democratic process, leading to rioters calling for former Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged. Considering the rampant election conspiracism this week spreading on social media, including theories that an outage on Meta-owned social media platforms was a method of “practicing shutting down communication” so people “can’t report election fraud,” and the Cape Fear Proud Boys’ apparent plan to install their “election integrity crew(s)” at the polls in November, we cannot ignore the potential threat far-right extremists pose to our democratic process.

2000 1333 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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