Proud Boys

Proud Boys, American political movement. Founded in 2016 by Vice Media cofounder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys promotes the philosophy of far-right, neo-fascist, and white privilege groups. It takes its name from the song “Proud of Your Boy” from the musical Aladdin (2011), which McInnes thought glorified anti-male sentiment; he thus turned its message on its head by appropriating its title. The group espouses the idea that white, Western culture is being attacked by leftist and socialist groups, and espouses violent confrontation with its enemies. Following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.—organized by expelled member Jason Kessler in August 2017--McInnes distanced himself from the movement, and was replaced by Enrique Tarrio, a Cuban-American who nonetheless espoused its racist message. In 2021, it was revealed that Tarrio had been an underground informant for the police during the previous decade. Among other events, members of the group targeted the oldest historically black church in Washington, D.C., the Ashbury United Methodist Church, on December 12, 2020, tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter sign that it had displayed. Following this incident, Tarrio was arrested on January 4, 2021, on one count of destruction of property and two counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, and ordered to leave the city. Two days later, many members were among those who stormed the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, and several were charged with crimes in its wake. The Proud Boys has been named a hate or extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation Leave (ADL), and the FBI, among others.

See L. Crothers, Rage on the Right: The American Militia Movement from Ruby Ridge to the Trump Presidency (2019, 2nd ed.); A. M. Stern, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (2019).

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