Prominent leaders in the Proud Boys group controversially linked to white supremacy by Fox News host Chris Wallace and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are speaking out to disavow racism.
“You have repeatedly criticized the Vice President for not specifically calling out antifa and other left-wing extremist groups. But are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups?” Wallace asked Trump.
Wallace added, “And to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of … cities.”
“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said. “What do you want to call them? Give me a name.”
Biden then interjected, “The Proud Boys.”
Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”
Biden went on to describe antifa as merely an “idea”
Chris Wallace: “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down…”
Trump: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” pic.twitter.com/4vrPocKzcu
— Axios (@axios) September 30, 2020
The debate moment has now become the latest controversy with regard to the establishment media and its war on the president, with reporters accusing Trump of refusing to disavow racism by telling the Proud Boys to “stand by.”
Now, the group in the middle of the political tussle is speaking out.
A man named Enrique Tarrio, who was identified by Sky News as the international chairman of the Proud Boys, told the outlet his group is not about skin color.
Tarrio, who himself is not white, told Sky News that he does not view Trump’s “stand by” comment as an endorsement of his group, and also said the group is anything but a white supremacist organization.
“We’ve been called many names, but probably the most inaccurate name you can call us is white supremacists,” Tarrio said.
“I’m a person of color, I’m a brown person, I’m chairman of the organization.”
Tarrio said his skin color was not an impediment to being elected to his position and added, “I think it was a great moment that we were mentioned on stage … if we were recognized by anyone we were recognized by Biden.”
Tarrio said Biden’s decision to label his group racist was a “crucial mistake,” and pointed to the group’s presence in Portland, Oregon, last weekend as an example that the group is not violent.
With regard to peacefully assembling, as the group did in Oregon, Tarrio said, “We’ve always done that … we stood back and stood by in Portland on the 26th, and we had a great event.”
Footage from a Proud Boys event in Portland shared by a Daily Caller videographer appeared to show the group was racially diverse.
Speaker at The Proud Boys rally in Portland:
“I’m not an African American, I am an American.” pic.twitter.com/TFPgnIgNAy
— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) September 26, 2020
Tarrio also told Sky News, “And basically I think what [Trump] meant was let the police do their job — which we have.”
KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City also spoke with another nonwhite ranking member of the Proud Boys group during an interview that aired on the station Wednesday night.
A man maned Thad, who identified himself as the chief of the city’s Proud Boys chapter, said his group disavows white supremacy.
“I will go out and say that the #ProudBoys as a whole, I will say this on behalf of the entire national organization, denounce white supremacy.” – Thad, Chief of the Proud Boys Salt Lake Utah Chapter pic.twitter.com/WGlUEx3jeF
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐧𝐞𝐞 (@brian_schnee) October 1, 2020
“I will go out and say that the Proud Boys as a whole, I will say this on behalf of the entire national organization, denounce white supremacy,” he said.
“We are in no way, shape or form white supremacists; we have a vetting system that just gets those guys out of our hair.”
KSTU reported that the area chapter of the Proud Boys has actually formed a relationship with the Northern Utah Black Lives Matter group.
Another high-ranking member of the Salt Lake Utah Proud Boys Chapter identified as Seth said that not all of the members of the group support the president.
There are two Black Lives Matter groups residing in the area of Utah.
While the northern Utah group has worked with the Proud Boys, another area Black Lives Matter representative called the group a “violent, white supremacist militia.”
Seth disagreed with that assessment.
“I don’t care what color your skin is, we’re all Americans, we need to find a way to come together instead of divide,” Seth told the station.
The Proud Boys group was founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes.
McInnes previously described the group as “as a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists,” according to the organization’s website.
The group describes itself as being in favor of limited government, border enforcement, free speech and gun rights, while its members oppose racism, racial guilt, the war on drugs and political correctness.
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