Augustus Invictus, a speaker at Unite the Right and former leader within the Proud Boys “military division,” Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK), poses with Gavin McInness.
Late Thursday night or early Friday morning, the Metropolitan Republican Club was vandalized in Manhattan, hours before the leader of the far-Right group whose members marched in Charlottesville, The Proud Boys’ Gavin McInness, was scheduled to speak.
— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) May 2, 2018
While McInness is banned from Twitter, he posted on Instagram that he was coming to the Republican Club to re-enact the assassination of a Japanese socialist. He stated:
On October 12th, 1960, Otoya Yamaguchi assassinated the head of the Japanese Socialist Party using a samurai sword. On October 12th, 2018, me and @thatjaprican will be re-enacting this inspiring moment at the Metropolitan Club.
He then posted the following photos:
Photo via @ShaneGoldmacher
Gavin McInness’ organization, The Proud Boys, are listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and have a long history of connection with white nationalism and the Alt-Right. McInness once stated:
I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of. I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.
McInness has written for white nationalist publications in the past, such as American Renaissance, a white nationalist mainstay which for decades has argued that whites are genetically superior and that black people destroy whatever civilizations they are found within. McInness has echoed these claims, while writing for American Renaissance:
The myth of “diversity is our strength” is contingent on nobody trying it. When we’re all forced to live side by side, we’ll quickly realize we are incompatible, and agree to disagree…Thanks to the Marxist myth of ubiquitous equality, this “mismatch” leaves blacks [worse off] than they would have been had they been left to their own devices.
In 2009, McInness began to write or the paleoconservative magazine Taki’s, after having gotten the position from none other than Richard Spencer, who had just been pushed out as editor of the American Conservative for his white nationalist views. McInness wrote of Spencer:
“he got me the job at this magazine.”
Spencer would leave Taki’s in December of 2009, while McInness would stay on board until the summer of 2017. In the summer of 2016, McInness announced through Taki’s the creation of the Proud Boys. While it was open to all men regardless of sexuality or race, it also demanded that :
[All Proud Boys] must adhere to some strict and rather awkward requirements. Proud Boys of color “are Western Chauvinists and recognize that white men are not the problem,” and “they don’t whine about racism or blame it for their problems.”
But despite opening up the organization to a few token non-whites and queers, the connections between the Alt-Right, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists among the Proud Boys remained strong. Mike Peinovich, a neo-Nazi podcaster stated:
Let’s break down the Proud Boy constituency. Now, I am friends with the New York Proud Boys. I’m good friends with the leader of the New York Proud Boys, [Sal Cipolla]. He’s a good guy. People probably know who he is, it doesn’t matter. He’s a good guy. You know, he’s not going to be TRS for various reasons. He can go back last. Basically Proud Boys is like, look… if you’re a white guy with a white girlfriend or no girlfriend then you’re going to be TRS, you’re going to be [Daily] Stormer… and loving that stuff, and you’re just a hair’s breath away from jumping into the Alt Right and being one of us, being a White Nationalist. The other people have certain hang-ups, it’s personal issues. They’re Jewish, they’re half-white, they’re mixed race or they have a non-White girlfriend of wife.
I’ve gone and hung out with these guys, we’re not at the point where we’re sending people back, whatever, we need to build relationships and things like that. Let me tell you something, you don’t need to be 100% White to not like Jews…I sit down, have beers with the leader of the New York City Proud Boys and all we do is talk about the fucking kikes.
This relationship only grew after clashes in Berkeley with antifascists took place in the spring and summer of 2017, which caused the launch of the “military wing of the Proud Boys” the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights,” which was headed by Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and Augustus Invictus, who would go on to speak in Charlottesville. FOAK attracted a variety of Alt-Right, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists who wanted to fight antifascists. Many of these people would go on to march at Unite the Right in August of 2017, an event which was organized by Jason Kessler, a member of the Proud Boys who had appeared on Gavin McInnes’ internet show numerous times.
After the murder of Heather Heyer, McInness attempted to backtrack from his long association with those on the Alt-Right and within white nationalism, however in a post on the Proud Boys official website before the deadly demonstration, the organization made it’s position clear:
The organizers are correct when they say we have to unite against our common enemy, the far left. This is why we refrain from punching right. This is why we protested the removal of Confederate Statues. There is a war on freedom happening right now in the West and we stand with anyone who wants to fight it. That doesn’t mean the Proud Boys are compelled to do everything the Alt-Right does. Not punching right does not mean following right to every event.
That being said, if a chapter or an individual Proud Boy feels compelled to go, we encourage him to do so. Chapter autonomy is a big part of the group as well as personal liberty.
Free speech is for everyone. This event isn’t ours, which is why our name is not on the flyer, but we wish them nothing but the best.
Numerous members of the Proud Boys, beyond Jason Kessler, were seen at Unite the Right, including both members of FOAK who wore their patches, as well as rank-n-file members of the Proud Boys, such as Sal Cipolla and Alex Michael Ramos, both of whom video recorded their experiences and the latter of which was later arrested in the savage beating of Deandre Harris.
ALERT: Alex Michael Ramos is an associate of the Atlanta Proud Boys/FOAK and the III% Georgia Security Force. Here are more pics from Cville pic.twitter.com/8AWvsapFjo
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) August 15, 2017
Moreover, even the official lawyer of the Proud Boys Jason Van Dyke, (who was recently arrested by police), has threaded to sue numerous activist groups and journalists for writing that the Proud Boys are “Alt-Right,” in fact has a long history of involvement in the white nationalist movement. This goes back to when he was arrested in college with a copy of The Turner Diaries which would go on to inspire the Oklahoma City Bombing, to when he sat on a board of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas along with other Alt-Right leaders and lawyers, which included Richard Spencer, Augustus Invictus, and Mike Peinovich.
But beyond association with the Alt-Right, the Proud Boys lawyer has also made numerous threats of physical violence. As Bernard Media wrote:
Once, Van Dyke tweeted a picture of a noose to a black Twitter user with a caption saying, “look good and hard at this picture you fucking nigger. It’s where I’m going to put your neck.” In another unhinged tweetstorm, Van Dyke let a user know, “your kiddies are quite a nuisance. My advice: run and hide. If I find you, I WILL kill both you and your family.”
Most recently Van Dyke wrote on Facebook:
“I am very close to coming out as a full blown fascist. Why? The 1st Amendment is an outdated right that has been misinterpreted by courts to the point where it has become a liability rather than an asset. It’s either time to make tough new libel laws or repeal the first amendment.”
Other Proud Boys connections to the far-Right remain. Eli “Mosley,” the former leader of the white nationalist group, Identity Evropa is a former member of the Proud Boys. Juan Benetiz, a Proud Boy from southern California worked closely with the Rise Above Movement, four members of which now face charges for carrying out acts of violence in Charlottesville. Jovi Val, a member of the Proud Boys helped organize and attended the second Unite the Right rally alongside neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Numerous members of the Proud Boys have also stated their support of neo-Nazism and white nationalism, such as Levi Romero of Southern California. He stated in a livestreaming video:
“Nazis are my best friends, all they want is nationalism, what’s wrong with that? They want to introduce, fuckin’, good shit for America.”
This in itself says nothing about the culture of violence and fear that the Proud Boys have promoted, on top of the continued acts of violence they have carried out against members of the public and journalists. Over the past six months, members of the Proud Boys have attempted to intimidate the humorist Vic Berger at his home after he made a montage video of McInness saying the “n-word,” and Proud Boys in Pacific Northwest have carried out attacks on an African-American youth at a mall and a man walking on the streets of Portland. Last month in Austin, after rallying in support of Alex Jones, Proud Boy “Tiny” Toese attempted to start a fight with a group of youths who were wearing Obama hats and MLK sweatshirts and had to be restrained by the police. Members of the Proud Boys have also taken a liking to wearing “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong” shirts, printed by neo-Nazis in the ‘Right Wing Death Squads’ company and now sold on a Proud Boys website. The back of the shirt shows people represented by antifascist logos being thrown to their deaths out of a helicopter.
This is not the first time that the Metropolitan Republican Club has opened its doors to the far-Right; Ann Counter who regularly shares social media from Alt-Right and neo-Nazi accounts and who cites white nationalist sources from groups like V-Dare (who she also writes for) was spoken there, as well as Swanson frozen food fortune heir and Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who has not only mainstreamed white nationalist talking points, but watched as a succession of his staff at The Daily Caller have been fired after their links to white nationalism and the Alt-Right have been exposed. Most spectacularly, this has included Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, who covered white nationalist rallies for The Daily Caller and was also a member of the Proud Boys, appearing on Gavin McInness’ internet show multiple times.
The vandalism at the Metropolitan Republican Club is sure to be used by fodder by right wing pundits as another example of the ‘violence’ of ‘the Left,’ while almost certainly they will fail to mention its central cause: the coming together of violent street based far-Right groups and the Republican Party.
PICS: Metropolitan GOP Club vandalized in Manhattan last night. Anarchist symbol scrawled on the doors —> pic.twitter.com/8sRGlk0qHx
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 12, 2018
This is a process which is accelerating. Tucker Carlson poses for pictures with members of the Proud Boys and GOP insider Roger Stone. Republican Rep Steve King shares openly Alt-Right and neo-Nazi content on social media. Donald Trump refers to neo-Nazis and the KKK as “fine people” and Tweets conspiracy theories about “white genocide” in South Africa, while his son follows white nationalists on Twitter, and former White House officials speak at conferences alongside Alt-Right “race realists” and neo-fascist politicians.
The goal of far-Right media and Fox News is to create a panic, a crisis; to generalize a feeling that popular social movements from below pose a threat to the average person, often by arguing that social movements are in reality controlled by shadowy, conspiratorial forces, be they Soros or the Clintons. This is why conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones constantly proclaim that “ANTIFA” or “Black Lives Matter” are going to “kill white people” or “Trump supporters,” because they want their listeners to feel like potential victims from an outside menace, only they (or Trump) can protect them from. The most recent example of this played out this week, as footage of protesters marching to remember a black man killed by Portland police has been described by the Right as “ANTIFA taking over the city” in order to attack white automotive drivers.
Poor and working-class people in the US have been attacked on all sides: from neoliberalism, the gig economy, and flat-lining wages coupled with the increasing cost of everything, tax cuts which make the rich richer and attack social programs in the face of growing health care needs and an exploding overdose crisis, a lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing gentrification, mass incarceration and police who kill over 3.5 per day, the increasing ecological crisis which has led to out of control weather, and the growing threat of far-Right violence that has left many people dead and exposed a network of far-Right, militia, and white nationalist groups that were actively attempting to carry out bombings, massacres, and killings before being apprehended.
The question is, will members of the public believe that a few broken windows and graffiti messages are equal to, or worse, than the actual violence, murder, and attempted mass killings that are happening all around us in real time? Will we believe the pundits at Fox News like Tucker Carlson, who are directly tied to these circles when they try and drum up fear and panic? Or, will understand that there is a struggle being carried out against fascism, and we need to pick a side.