Written with contribution from Sheriff David Clarke
While the only real violence the Proud Boys have ever perpetrated was in retaliation to violent Antifa extremists who ought to themselves be treated like terrorists, the government of Canada has declared the right-wing group a “terrorist entity” following the alleged role they played in the Capitol Hill riot last month.
The AP describes the group as a “far-right, male chauvinist extremist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies,” which is pretty vague, and makes no mention of the significantly more violent and radical Antifa terrorists with whom the Proud Boys are typically clashing.
They note that, during the presidential debates, President Donald Trump had instructed the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” when asked to denounce the group, clearly trying to link the terrorist designation to the former president’s alleged incitement of the riot itself.
“Senior officials speaking on a technical briefing said authorities had been monitoring and collecting evidence about the Proud Boys before the Capitol Hill insurrection, but confirmed that the event provided information that helped with the decision to list the organization,” the AP noted.
“Their intent and their escalation toward violence became quite clear,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said.
The Proud Boys’ chairman, Enrique Tarrio, told the AP over the phone he thought the designation was “ridiculous.”
“There is no basis for it. It’s infringement of free speech rights. All the Canadian Proud Boys have ever done is go to rallies,” he said.
“They used what happened at the Capitol to push for this,” he added.
Considering the AP offered no further substantial evidence the group, much less the Canadian component of it, engaged significantly in the Capitol Hill riot.
In fact, as per the New York Times’ reporting on the subject heavily suggesting the Proud Boys played a role, it appears the most weighty evidence the group was involved was that a handful of individuals linked to the group have been identified as being involved.
The Canadian chapters of the Proud Boys, Tarrio explained consist of roughly 1,000-1,500 individuals and are far quieter, although he has been arrested in Washington, D.C. for vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic church.
I thought flag burning was protected speech? Oh, that’s only when the thugs from Black Lives Matter and Antifa burn a US flag or Thin Blue Line flag.
When asked if the United States would be designating the group as a terrorist entity, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there is already a domestic extremism review in progress.
“We will wait for that review to conclude before we make any determinations,” she said.
“The terrorist designation in Canada means the group may have assets seized and face harsher terrorism-related criminal penalties. A government official said just because they are a member doesn’t mean they will be charged with a crime, but if they do engage in violent acts they could be charged with terrorist crimes,” the AP notes.
Donating money or buying paraphernalia from the group would also be a crime.
“The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs,” the Canadian government charged in briefing materials.
Wait. Are they talking about Black Lives Matter and Antifa activities or Proud Boys? It is easy to be confused here.
“The group regularly attends Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests as counter-protesters, often engaging in violence targeting BLM supporters. On January 6, 2021, the Proud Boys played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol,” they continue.
The group is being added to the list of terrorist organizations along with three groups linked to al-Qaida, four linked to ISIS, and one Kashmiri organization. Groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda are already on the list.
Even critics of the Proud Boys raised concerns about the designation, however, saying that it could be “deeply problematic” for civil liberties in general.
“Groups who are added are not informed in advance, nor given the chance to address the accusations levelled against them,” the Ottawa-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said in a statement.
“Only once a group is added does the listing become public, and they are in a position to challenge their listing.”