MONTGOMERY, Ala.— Dr. Cassie Miller, senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Project, released the following statement ahead of the start of United States of America v Tarrio et al., the trial of Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys group, and members including Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, all accused of seditious conspiracy.
"While this trial seeks to determine their guilt on seditious conspiracy charges, there is no doubt that members of the Proud Boys played a key role in the violent attack on the Capitol and our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to disrupt the transfer of power – by force.
“The Proud Boys’ participation in the insurrection was the culmination of years of activism, which included organizing violent rallies across the country, building a widespread network of dozens of individual chapters, fundraising to support their activities, and spreading propaganda that justified their acts of intimidation and violence.
“The continued efforts of Proud Boys after Jan. 6 to create chaos and incite violence locally and nationally is indicative of the risk the group continues to pose to the safety of communities and individuals across the country.
"It is of the utmost importance that the Proud Boys, and all those who helped plan and perpetrate the attack on Jan. 6, be held accountable. Without such accountability, our democracy will continue to be at risk — including increased vulnerability to attacks on our elections and voting rights by some of the same actors who were involved in Jan. 6. We must do everything we can prevent extremist violence and to protect free and fair elections to ensure a truly inclusive democracy.”
Background on the group:
The SPLC has been tracking the Proud Boys since its inception in 2016. It is an authoritarian, ultranationalist group and now one of the largest far-right extremist groups in the United States, with around 72 chapters nationwide.
Among far-right groups, the Proud Boys has been uniquely able to sustain and expand its membership, often despite members facing criminal charges or public backlash for their violent actions. This is, in part, because the group relies heavily on humor and rituals to deflect attention from their extremist views. Despite the legal challenges the group faces, its members continue to use violence and harassment to intimidate those they consider their political enemies.
Here is our file on the group: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys
And here is testimony we provided to the Jan. 6 Select Committee on them: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/splc-statement-january-6-s...
Proud Boys Are Still Violent, Despite Legal Woes: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2021/08/25/proud-boys-are-still-viol...
Proud Boys Aid the Right-Wing Assault on the LGBTQ Community and Reproductive Justice: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2022/07/13/proud-boys-aid-right-wing...
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