Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, The Grouch, The State
Florida based Proud Boy leaders Joe Biggs, a former host of the far-Right conspiracy platform, InfoWars, as well as the group’s National Chairman, Enrique Tarrio, who attended the neo-Nazi Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and also serves as the Director of Latinos for Trump in Florida, are instructing their troops to “tone down” their violent rhetoric and calls for outright murder on social media.
As Oregon Live wrote:
Biggs and Tarrio said that they’ve been in contact with Portland police and have in recent days urged backers not to bring weapons to the Portland protest, particularly in the wake of last weekend’s two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that killed 31 people and left dozens more wounded.
These calls began with Biggs posting on Facebook that he had received a visit from the FBI following two mass shootings and a series of far-Right attacks and arrests of neo-Nazis and white nationalists for attempted copycat attacks. This move also comes at a time when various Proud Boys are also facing charges, are in court, or have been recently sentenced for violent assaults against members of the public.
Ironically the Proud Boys, who claim that they will be joined in Portland by groups such as the far-Right militia, the Three Percenters, which are tied to multiple bombings, as well as the American Guard, which was founded by a violent neo-Nazi skinhead, say that they are rallying to demand that “ANTIFA” be labeled a domestic terrorist group. The Proud Boys, who often brand themselves as “Libertarians,” also say they are rallying to support a proposed ban promoted by the Portland police, on people wearing masks at demonstrations. As many have noted, far-Right rally goers often wear masks at demonstrations, generally in much higher numbers than the hundreds of antifascist and antiracist counter-demonstrators who generally out number them.
“I’m Only Here for the Violence”
Violent rhetoric up to and including direct threats of murder are nothing new for groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, who up until recently had a working alliance in the streets of the Pacific Northwest.
Promoting murder is slenderizing. The phrase “Death to Antifa!,” was also screamed by Jeremy Christian, the Alt-Right serial murderer and Patriot Prayer rally attendee who killed two people and seriously injured a third on a Portland train in 2017.
Hoping to cash in on the media swarm following the punching of far-Right grifter Andy Ngo, Proud Boy leaders like Joe Biggs began pushing for a mass mobilization in Portland on August 17th. Right off the bat, the rhetoric surrounding the event was awash in threats of violence and bloodshed.
Biggs began by urging his followers to stock up on firearms and ammo, while also stating that, “Free speech was bought and paid for with blood, it will not be lost for anything else.” Biggs coupled these words with the image of a muscular Proud Boys punching a skinnny antifascist in the head, causing blood to splatter into the air.
Joe Biggs encourages his followers to get armed. Anarchist William Von Spronsen, who was shot and killed by guards at the Northwest Detention facility in Tacoma, Washington while attempting to set fire to empty ICE transport vans, also encouraged people to arm themselves. Spronsen is considered by the Proud Boys to be a “domestic terrorist.”
This was followed by even more direct calls for actual, physical violence and murder on social media. In early July, only a few days after announcing the rally, Biggs was kicked off Twitter.
After being kicked off Twitter, Biggs continued to make more violent threats on other social media platforms. Speaking to his followers on Periscope, Biggs stated while wearing a shirt promoting the authoritarian dictator Augusto Pinochet, known for torture and mass murder, that antifascists were “not gonna feel safe when [they] go out in public, every time you turn your shoulder or your head, you look over, you’re always gonna feel like myself or someone else is gonna be there looking, because that is what we’re gonna do.”
Biggs continued his calls for violence in the lead up to the August 17th Portland demonstration as he also promoted and attended the “Demand Free Speech” rally in DC, where he also picked fights with Southern California Republican hopeful and Alt-Lite troll, Omar Navarro, who in return echoed claims that Proud Boys leaders were heavily involved in cocaine and other drugs.
After the DC rally flopped, bringing out under 200 attendees and was dwarfed by a much larger antifascist demonstration, Biggs rambled into his phone on the streets of Washington DC while livestreaming that he was going to, “Beat your fucking [‘ANTIFA’] ass,” and repeatedly called antifascists “faggots” while threatening to physically assault anyone that dared to come out and face him. According to the main Proud Boy website, the group welcomes both “gay and straight” members.
THIS one clip. Everyone needs to see exactly why Joe is coming to Portland if it weren't clear already.
— ?????????????????????↙️↙️↙️ (@OhMyAntifascism) August 4, 2019
Biggs at one point, brings Enrique Tarrio into the conversation to talk about physical violence:
— ?????????????????????↙️↙️↙️ (@OhMyAntifascism) August 4, 2019
Before signing off, Biggs continues to threaten people in DC with physical assault:
— ?????????????????????↙️↙️↙️ (@OhMyAntifascism) August 4, 2019
After the July 6th rally in DC, Biggs continued to promote the Portland demonstration as well as call for violence. In one video, Biggs showed off a new red, white, and blue bat with metal spikes with “Make America Great Again” written on the side saying, it will be “put to good use.”
— John #ProtectMaunaKea (@Johnnthelefty) August 4, 2019
Speaking on InfoWars about the upcoming Portland rally, Biggs stated, “I want them to wake up in the middle of the night having nightmares, that [Proud Boy leader Ethan Nordean] is going to come into their homes and start knocking them out and putting them to sleep.”
But Biggs is far from the only person calling for violence in Portland on August 17th. Writing on Facebook, Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer stated to antifascists that people were going to “show up and shoot you mfers…mfers coming from everywhere with guns.”
This type of violent rhetoric and threats are nothing new for Gibson. In 2017, only months after the Jeremy Christian murders, he implied that the far-Right was full of “lone wolves” who were ready to kill people opposed to the far-Right’s agenda.
Gibson in 2017 claims that “we got wolves just sitting around, just waiting.”
Other members of Patriot Prayer such as Russel Schultz, a former Proud Boy, long known for his violent threats on Facebook, have also made threats of violence in relation to the August 17th event. On July 11th, Schultz posted a meme stating that those on the far-Right were going to murder enough people on August 17th to “raise the body count” beyond those killed in the Las Vegas shooting, which Schultz considers an attack against “conservatives,” despite the shooting being carried out by a Trump supporter. Russel has also stated on social media that he plans to infiltrate the antifascist protest on August 17th.
Russel Schultz shares meme that states that August 17th will see a high number of counter-protesters murdered.
Threats of violence are also not just coming from the leaders of the Proud Boys and other groups, but also from the rank-n-file. As Rose City Antifa wrote about the below image: “This receipt is just one of the times Eugene area martial arts instructor Andrew Allwander posted this lurid homicidal fantasy of carrying out an ISIS-style beheading against anti-fascist activists.”
For years, far-Right groups have painted Portland as enemy territory, with people like Joey Gibson claiming that the “dark” city of Portland will be “cleansed” by “freedom loving Americans” of “criminals.” This hatred is directed against the people of Portland as a whole and not just antifascist and anti-racist groups who oppose the far-Right on the streets. Speakers at Proud Boy and Patriot Prayer rallies in Portland have also not shied away from calling for violence and murder. Jeff Perrine in 2018 advocated for the murder of migrant workers, stating that their heads should be “smash[ed]…into the concrete” and that their children should be separated from them.
The June 30th rally was called for by Joey Gibson, who is running for Senate in Washington. His call for violence had an almost "Biblical" feel to it, + his hatred of #Portland was clear. "[T]he stench-covered and liberal-occupied streets of Portland will be CLEANSED. CLEANSED." pic.twitter.com/cYMucWwqNP
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 5, 2018
This hatred of everyday people has spilled out into direct attacks against the public, with several Proud Boys now facing charges for violence attacks against random people on the street. Other attendees of far-Right Portland rallies, like Jeremy Christian, went on to murder two people while almost killing a third in 2017, while engaging in racist harassment against two young women of color on a public train. This is to say nothing of the violence that such groups have carried out at the demonstrations that they have organized, which has led to multiple counter-demonstrators being hospitalized.
Highlighting right wing assaulters in Portland, OR
Additional footage from 6/30/18 with numerous visible assaults from Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer associates
Video 7 of many… pic.twitter.com/Nif0zDK3Md
— identifypdx (@identifypdx) August 12, 2019
For years, liberals, and those in the Center has argued that people should simply ignore far-Right groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer. However, when left to their own devices, these groups in the Portland area have instead taken it upon themselves to harass left-wing meetings, vandalize union halls, and in the case of May Day in Portland, where they were totally ignored by anarchist, left-wing, Abolish ICE, and antifascists demonstrators, they then choose to attack people outside the Cider Riot bar who were hosting a benefit event. Several far-Right individuals who participated in that violent attack which left one person hospitalized have just now been arrested. In short, even when ignored, these groups will in turn move to attack Lefist, progressive, and anarchist spaces, events, and infrastructure.
Portland police have also played a role in supporting and facilitating this violence directed at members of the public. As recent investigations have shown, for years the police have worked closely with far-Right groups and organizers like Joey Gibson, helping his troops avoid arrest and also looking the other way when they engage in violence. At protests, police have even worked with those on the far-Right to arrest antifascists. On August 4th 2018, when hundreds of armed white nationalists, militia members, and Proud Boys rallied behind Joey Gibson, police also allowed a group of out of town far-Right rally goers stationed on a roof top with firearms completely off the hook – the story only coming to light months later. Compare this to how Portland police amplified and promoted a far-Right conspiracy theory about cement milkshakes on Twitter because they claimed it was a “threat to the public.” Apparently violent far-Right groups on top of buildings with firearms are not.
“Libertarians” for the Police State
Proud Boys leaders want their friends in the Republican party, a partnership which some in the GOP have called, “…a coalition they can’t talk about” to label antifascists a “domestic terrorist” threat, because they are hoping that State repression will give them more power over the streets in the face of mass opposition. As many have pointed out, the State currently does not even have a designation for “domestic terrorist groups,” and even if there were, there is currently much more political pressure to label groups on the far-Right as terrorists than those actively organizing against them. The Proud Boys are aware of this and are pushing as hard as possible before the 2020 election in case Trump is voted out.
The Proud Boys white supremacist group has been stopped by bicycle police in Orlando. pic.twitter.com/ivjCsmaShx
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) June 18, 2019
Thus, groups like the Proud Boys, who LARP as “Libertarians” and “anarcho-capitalists” and who on paper oppose big-government “socialism” and things like internet censorship, the drug-war, and government surveillance – are shown to be the neo-fascists that they are. They aren’t Libertarians, they want a bureaucratic police State that protects an authoritarian far-Right government against anyone who might challenge its power.
Furthermore, if they think the State won’t in turn come after them; an organization with actual hierarchy, dues, connections to the Republican Party, and where people are rewarded with higher rank for engaging in violence, then they are living in a fantasy. As we recently saw in New York, where Republican officials gave up to police the names of the Proud Boys who attacked counter-protesters outside of a GOP event where Gavin McIness spoke in late 2018, Republicans might be willing to use groups like the Proud Boys when possible, but are also totally willing to throw them under the bus when need be.
Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio, who attended Unite the Right, works closely with Roger Stone + directs Latinos for Trump in #Florida, is behind the petition to label 'antifa' a 'domestic terrorist group,' which has been picked up by Ted Cruz + Trump. https://t.co/BHtch5BxOi pic.twitter.com/epLdDHU9Ab
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 1, 2019
Groups like the Proud Boys aren’t serious or interested in fighting against “domestic terrorism” – they celebrate State violence and murder, promote it online, and engage in it on the streets. What they want to is to stop anyone who stands up to them. They want the massive crowds who come out to oppose them to be too afraid to demonstrate against them. They know that currently, they are vastly outnumbered, which is why they are now begging Republicans to use the full force of the State to criminalize protest and dissent.
It’s up to us to see through the lies of the far-Right, the Republican Party who hopes to harness their violence in order to attack mutual enemies, the Center who is just as terrified of autonomous working class movements on the streets as the Right is, and the police and local politicians who are more than willing to unite with fascists to secure the streets. The Proud Boys rally on August 17th isn’t a demonstration against political violence, its a celebration of it. As always, its up to the people themselves to keep each other safe.
We're getting ready! Grab some friends and come downtown Saturday (8/17)! Let's show these jerks Portland stands with marginalized people and against Trump + his bigotsquad. Perform, lookie-loo, or just bang a gong! It's your city. #BeTheSpectacle #EverydayAntifascist #AllOutPDX pic.twitter.com/CzORV6V03c
— PopMob (Popular Mobilization) (@PopMobPDX) August 11, 2019