FBI: Far-Right Proud Boys 'Fraternal Organization' Designated 'Extremist Group' With Ties to White Nationalism

The far-right "fraternal organization" the Proud Boys has been designated an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism” by the FBI.

The "extremist" designation was included in an August internal affairs report from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Vancouver, Washington.

The report was posted online Monday by the "good government" nonprofit group Property of the People, and provided to The Guardian news outlet.

GettyImages-1052558204 Activist Gavin McInnes takes part in an Alt Right protest of Muslim Activist Linda Sarsour on May 25, 2017, in New York City. The far-right "fraternal organization" the Proud Boys has been designated an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism” by the FBI. Getty Images

The Proud Boys is a self-described male-only “western chauvinist” group started by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016.

In recent months, group members have been involved in violent clashes at right-wing protests in various cities, including Portland, Oregon, and New York. Several members were arrested after a brawl with left-wing demonstrators, including members of Antifa, outside Republican Party offices in Manhattan in October.

Proud Boys has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest”, the Clark County Sheriff's Office document reads.

“Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”

Michael McCabe, who is in charge of internal affairs, training, background investigation and courthouse security in the Clark County Sheriff's Office, told The Guardian that the designation was revealed by an FBI officer at an August 2 briefing.

He said at the briefing that the FBI said the agency had “been warning [local law enforcement] for a while” about the Proud Boys, “not just in Washington but around the nation.”

The briefing was held after Erin Willey, a former deputy with the sheriff’s office, was fired in July, when photos were published of her in The Columbian wearing a Proud Boys Girls sweatshirt. The sheriff's office said her affilaition with the group violated its nondiscrimination and anti-harrassment policies. 

“The FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism,” an executive summary of the report read. “The Proud Boy Girls are believed to be an affiliate group of women who openly support the ideology of the Proud Boys. The FBI Seattle office is unaware of how many female members are active in the Pacific Northwest.”

The group was banned from online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in October.

An FBI spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the agency does not launch investigations "based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights."

"Our focus is not on membership in particular groups but on individuals who commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security," she continued. "When it comes to domestic terrorism, our investigations focus solely on criminal activity of individuals—regardless of group membership—which appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion." 

"The FBI does not and will not police ideology."

The Proud Boys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article was updated on Tuesday November 20 with a comment from the FBI. 

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