Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, left, and organizer Joe Biggs congratulate each other after a rally in Portland, Ore., last year.(John Rudoff / AFP/Getty Images)
Started in 2016 by the co-founder of Vice Media, Gavin McInnes, as a “men’s drinking club,” the Proud Boys bills itself as a group of “Western chauvinists” who believe in free speech, gun rights and closed borders. They oppose what they describe as racial guilt and political correctness.
The group has organized rallies in Portland, Oregon and other cities, calling on police to be more aggressive against left-wing activists. Members of the group participated in a pro-Trump truck caravan that turned violent in downtown Portland on August 29, when a follower of another pro-Trump group, Patriot Prayer, was fatally shot.
A Florida-based organizer for the group, Joe Biggs, who helped organize the Portland rally said that vilifying antifa and the social justice protests erupting nightly in that city is key to his group’s national strategy.
Biggs claimed that the rally succeeded by forcing Gov. Kate Brown to declare a state of emergency. The U.S. Marshals Service deputized more than 50 Portland police officers for a year, giving them powers that enable federal prosecutors to bring charges with stiffer penalties.
“That’s kind of cool because they can do their job now,” Biggs said Wednesday. “We’re just sick and tired of the lawlessness for 100-plus days in Portland. There has to be some accountability.”
“Portland is the main center of insurrection around the country,” Biggs said, adding that his members were prepared to return “if we continue to see these insurrections going unchecked.”
Biggs, 36, of Daytona Beach, Fla., has a LinkedIn page that lists him as having served as a U.S. Army staff sergeant for 10 years. Banned along with his organization from Twitter and Facebook, he works for Censored.TV, a subscription channel that features hosts including McInnes.
After Tuesday’s debate, Biggs wrote on the Parler social media platform that “President Trump told the Proud Boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with antifa ... well sir! we’re ready!!”
He spoke with relish of his organization’s role in Portland. “It’s a joke that it took a men’s drinking club to help restore law and order,” he said.
He accused Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler of failing to crack down. “They’ve emboldened antifa to such a point that it’s now inspiring insurrection around the country,” he said, adding that the left-wing movement is “a great white shark that has a taste of blood and is trying to get more.”