GPAHE submits statements to committee on the role of the Proud Boys and the future of the far-right movement and its impact on democracy
Per a request from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism has submitted two briefs to provide expert commentary and context to the committee as it prepares to hold a series of hearings in June.
The first statement submitted for the record, The Role of the Proud Boys in the January 6th Capitol Attack and Beyond, leaves no doubt that the Proud Boys were deeply involved in the Jan. 6th attack.
The Proud Boys are an inherently violent group that espouses racist, misogynistic, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant beliefs. According to the statement, the Proud Boys played a key role and were deeply involved in the lead up to Jan. 6th. A week before the insurrection, leader Enrique Tarrio called for the group to “turn out in record numbers.” But their involvement went far beyond that. Members of the group spent months planning to invade the Capitol, and worked together with the anti-government Oath Keepers and others.
GPAHE’s statement includes an in-depth history of the group and its leaders, including connections to the Trump administration, examples of violence, and racist, antisemitic, or otherwise bigoted comments and posts by members. (You can read more about the Proud Boys in Heidi Beirich’s expert witness report in the lawsuit Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church v. Proud Boys International, L.L.C., Enrique Tarrio, John Does #1-8.)
Even as members are being investigated and arrested, the statement shows that the Proud Boys remain highly active, including infiltrating local town council and school board meetings. In the six months after January 6, the Proud Boys held 20 different events, some of which turned violent.
“There is no doubt that the Proud Boys were deeply engaged in the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, something for which they must be held accountable,” said Heidi Beirich, GPAHE co-founder and executive vice president. “The Proud Boys are a dangerous group, and their involvement in holding up white supremacy, fomenting violence, and damaging our democracy goes far beyond Jan. 6th.”
The second statement GPAHE submitted for the record, The Road to January 6 and How Metastasizing Far-Right Extremism Leaves Democracy in Peril, explores how the Jan. 6 attack was the culmination of government inaction regarding far-right extremism in the years prior to Jan. 6, the failure for years of tech companies to root out hate and extremism on their networks, and the unique role former President Trump played in inspiring hate and violence.
“While hate-based, far-right movements have metastasized over the last decade, there’s been too little action on the part of the U.S. government and tech companies to stop this threat,” said Wendy Via, GPAHE co-founder and president. “The Jan. 6 attack was a wake up call to many, but the truth is this problem has been growing unchecked for years. And, a year and a half after Jan. 6, neither the government nor tech companies have taken significant steps to protect the U.S. from far-right violent extremism.”
As former Trump administration staff (Cassidy Hutchinson, Sarah Matthews), election workers (Shaye Moss, Brad Raffensperger), expert on the Proud Boys Nick Quested, and others have come forward, the connection between Trump and extremist groups including the Proud Boys is increasingly clear.