Gavin McInnes, 48, of Larchmont, co-founder of Vice Media, stepped down as leader of Proud Boys, saying the group "is not racist. It is pro-Trump. The media lies about this club constantly."
In earlier media reports, McInnes blamed fake news and Westchester billionaire George Soros for his demise and spreading lies about his group.
On YouTube, McInnes said he was officially disassociating himself from the Proud Boys “in all capacities, forever,” to ease some of the legal problems a half dozen group members are facing.
“I do this reluctantly because I see it as the greatest fraternal organization in the world but rumors and lies and bad journalism has made it’s[sic] way to the court system and the NYC9… are facing serious charges,” McInnes said on the YouTube post, referring to the group’s New York members.
At least six Proud Boys members are facing charges from the Oct. 12 assault of a trio of Antifa members protesting the speech McInnes gave at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan.
“I’m told by my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture could help alleviate their sentencing. Fine. At the very least, this will show jurors they are not dealing with a gang and there is no head of operations. We are not an extremist group and we do not have ties with white nationalists,” McInnes said. "I'm stepping down from a 'perceived position.'""
The FBI now classifies the far-right Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism," according to this document released by Washington state law enforcement.
The FBI’s 2018 designation of the self-confessed “western chauvinist group” as extremist had not been made public.
McInnes has insisted that his group is not white nationalist or “alt-right” but the Proud Boys have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists them as a hate group.
The document also says: “The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west,” and: “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”
The report, and the FBI’s warning to south-west Washington police agencies about the Proud Boys’ role in escalating violence at these events came in August, two months before the group was involved in street violence in New York City and Portland, and not long after they participated in street violence in downtown Portland on June 30.
In August, Twitter shut down McInnes' account after it posted a photo of a violent clash, as reported here.
McInnes rails against liberal decadence: “I blame Soros for all of this,” McInnes said during a September broadcast of Infowars. “Soros is terrorizing me and trying to shut down my fraternal club, the Proud Boys. And he’s paying people to mess with my life, and spread these lies about me, spread fake news.”
McInnes, 48, built his profile as a New York media provocateur. As co-founder of the media company Vice, he was an architect of the ironic hipster culture of the early 2000s, a scene that sometimes gave him cover for racist remarks that he defended as jokes before leaving Vice in 2008.
In 2016, McInnes founded the Proud Boys—a violent, ultranationalist men’s club—and selling his $2.5 million Brooklyn penthouse to buy a home on Park Avenue in Larchmont.
After months of high-profile street fights involving the Proud Boys, neighbors in McInnes’ upscale village started to notice who moved next door.
Vandalism before McInnes Oct. 12 speech at the GOP Metropolitan Club was decried by Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro and violence afterward drew scorn from Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle, among others.
McInnes received a police escort after leaving the Metropolitan Republican Club, but a group of Proud Boys stayed behind and then brawled with anti-fascist protesters. Police arrested six Proud Boys and sought the arrest of others including three anti-fascists involved in the scuffle.
Proud Boys at a violent Portland, Oregon, rally wore T-shirts valorizing Augusto Pinochet, a Chilean dictator who murdered tortured and murdered leftist political foes.
When a prominent Twitter user made videos mocking the Proud Boys, a member showed up at his home. Members have also variously expressed sexist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBT views.
The ideological flexibility gives some space for members of color; the aforementioned Proud Boy who attended Unite the Right also runs with a primarily Latino skinhead crew. It also gives plausible deniability for figures like McInnes, who constantly toe the line of acceptable hatred.
McInnes' full 36-minute YouTube video announcement can be found by clicking on the above image or on this link.
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