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SPLC Statement on Proud Boys Rally in Portland, Ore.

Portland, Ore. — On Saturday, September 26, the Proud Boys, self-described ‘western chauvinists,’ will hold a rally at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon. Over the past three years, the group has hosted and promoted rallies in progressive cities like Portland, frequently engaging in violence against their political opponents. (List of the group’s’ violent history follows the statement.)

Though the Proud Boys have waged a pitched political battle on the streets for years, the context of Saturday’s rally is decidedly different. It is being held specifically in response to the murder of Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson, who was allegedly killed by a self-proclaimed antifascist in Portland.

Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Research Analyst Cassie Miller issued the following statement ahead of the rally:

“Saturday’s rally is the latest in a long series of sustained provocations that the Proud Boys have held in Portland. Each time, the goal of these events has been the same: to incite violent confrontations with counter-protesters, blame any resulting violence on the left, and press for further repression and retaliation against those they consider their political adversaries.

“Groups like the Proud Boys have been emboldened by President Trump’s recent announcement that Portland, NYC, and Seattle will be designated ‘anarchist jurisdictions.’ What’s also troubling is that their actions have been further encouraged by right-wing media outlets such as Fox News, which has aggressively defended vigilante violence, particularly in their coverage of an Illinois teenager who allegedly killed two people at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Proud Boys have defended him as a ‘hero.’

“As alarming as the rally will be for the people of Portland, this is also an opportunity for local law enforcement agencies to look out for public safety. The police department must be proactive in managing the situation with adequate capacity to handle the crowds and prevent violence, particularly between Proud Boys and counter-protesters.

“We hope that more violence doesn’t occur in Portland on Saturday, but if the violent history of the Proud Boys is of any indication, Portland officials should take the necessary steps to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Proud Boys violent history:

  • On August 29, 2020, Trump supporters shot paintballs at counter-protesters from the bed of a pickup truck.
  • At an August 22, 2020, rally in Portland, Proud Boys Alan Swinney repeatedly fired a paintball gun into a crowd of protesters. Swinney also pointed a pistol at protesters.
  • On August 15, 2020, Patriot Prayer associate Skylor Jernigan fired two gunshots into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters. He was charged with two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and three misdemeanors.
  • In January 2019, members of Patriot Prayer repeatedly attempted to antagonize members of the Portland Democratic Socialists of America, protesting outside of the building where they hold meetings. One video showed Patriot Prayer members prowling through Portland looking for political rivals. When they spotted apparent antifascists across the street, right-wing Portland activist Haley Adams paused and urged members of her group not to act like antagonists. “We don’t want to look like we are fighting them,” she said.
  • In January 2019, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer collaborator Reggie Axtell threatened Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “I promise you this, Ted Wheeler: I’m coming for you, you little punk. And all your antifa bastards. I’m coming for you fuckers, too,” he said in a Facebook video. He also told the mayor his days were “fucking numbered.”
  • Skylor Jernigan, who is a regular at Patriot Prayer events, threatened antifascists in a Facebook video in January 2019: “You’re gonna be getting knives put into your throat. You’re going to be getting bullets put into your head if you don’t stop this shit with us.”
  • In October 2018, members of the Proud Boys assaulted antifascists in New York City after a speaking event featuring Gavin McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club. Ten were convicted of charges related to the incident, and two received jail time.
  • In September 2018, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese tried to attack two Black men after a rally in Austin. Apparently angered by their Obama hats, Toese flew into a rage and shouted, “You won’t survive in my world, boy” and “I’ll blow through your fucking window!” when the men hid inside of a store. Police had to intervene.
  • At an August 4, 2018, rally in Portland, Proud Boys showed up wearing a shirt that read “Pinochet did nothing wrong.” When HuffPost reporter Chris Matthias asked Tiny “Didn’t Pinochet kill 35,000 people?” he responded, “Aren’t they all communists?” Proud Boys continue to wear shirts with the letters “RWDS,” for “right-wing death squads.”
  • In July 2018, members of Patriot Prayer invaded an “Occupy ICE” protest in Portland and yelled at protesters, who remained protected behind a fence.
  • On June 8, 2018, Proud Boys Donovan Flippo and Tusitala “Tiny” Toese assaulted a man in Portland. They pled guilty and, as part of his two-year probation, Toese was banned from attending protests. He was charged with violating his probation in June 2020 after he was filmed shoving and dragging a protester outside of Seattle’s CHAZ.

(The group has denied any connection to the racist “alt-right,” insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda.)

Read the Proud Boys Extremist File here.