Who Are The Proud Boys? Counter-Protest Against Black Lives Matter in Portland Ends

A rally by the Proud Boys group in Portland, Oregon, has ended without a repeat of violence frequently seen by events held by the far-right group.

The event was held at Portland's Peninsula Park on Saturday afternoon, with a counter demonstration against the Proud Boys also taking place at the same time a few miles.

In an application permit, which was rejected by the city over COVID-19 fears, organizers of the rally estimated that as many as 10,000 people would be in attendance.

Only a fraction of that number turned up in support of the far-right group on Saturday, with hundreds reporting to have begun dispersing after only a couple of hours.

Proud Boys have staged several rallies down the years in Portland down the years which have broken out into violence after being met with counter demonstrations.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a weekend state of emergency in Portland ahead of Saturday's rally over fears that "white supremacist groups from out of town," some of whom will be armed, will be coming to the city to "intimidate, instigate and inflame" tensions in the city.

The Proud Boys rally was organized to condemn the continuing nights of Black Lives Matter protests and unrest which has been seen in Portland since the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd in May.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also warned that groups who "empower racism, intolerance and hate" were not welcome in the city.

In a statement, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell described relief as the day passed without any serious incident.

"I'm pleased to say that through the unified efforts of Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, and the Portland Police, events earlier today were free from serious violence," Lovell said. "Thanks to those who demonstrated peacefully. May that continue throughout the evening.

"I also want to acknowledge the Police Bureau members working today, including many who are here on their day off. I am in awe of their dedication to the safety of Portland.

"Make no mistake about it. If not for their work, today very likely would have turned out differently."

Proud Boys were launched in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media turned prominent far-right figurehead.

Their supporters describe themselves as "western chauvinists" and have a uniform of sorts consisting of black Fred Perry polo shirts with yellow stripes and red MAGA hats.

In 2018, the FBI listed the "fraternal organization" as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism."

The Southern Poverty Law Center also lists Proud Boys as a hate group "known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric."

As well as frequently staging violent rallies in Portland, the group hit headlines for clashing with antifa following a speech by McInnes at New York's Metropolitan Republican Club in October 2018.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, McInnes told a crowd of his supporters that violence is a "really effective way to solve problems."

Their members have also showed up at several other white nationalist events, including the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Recently, British clothing store Fred Perry said that it will no longer be selling its black and yellow shirt worn by the far-right group's supporters in North America until it is satisfied that "its association with the Proud Boys has ended."

The company added in a statement: "Fred Perry does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys.

"It is incredibly frustrating that this group has appropriated our Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt and subverted our Laurel Wreath to their own ends.

"To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand."

proud boys
Several hundred members of the Proud Boys and other similar groups gathered for a rally at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon, on September 26. Maranie R. STAAB / AFP/Getty

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