The FBI has designated the right-wing Proud Boys organization as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism” according to a document released by law enforcement in the state of Washington.
“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,” states the document released to the Guardian.
“The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west,” charges the memo.
The federal law enforcement agency did not directly address questions put to it by the newspaper on the designation, but said that while “the FBI does not and will not police ideology,” the agency “regularly assesses intelligence regarding possible threats and works closely to share that information with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners.”
The Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Vice Media, as a male-only organization that describes its members as “western chauvinists” and is seen as part of the so-called alt-right ultra-nationalist movement.
During a trip to Israel in 2017, McInnes said that his visit was making him anti-Semitic, that Israelis have a “whiny paranoid fear of Nazis,” and that Jews were ultimately responsible for World War II.
Three men were arrested last month after violent brawls in the streets of New York following a speech by McInnes gave in Manhattan.
Following the event at a longtime gathering place for Republicans, more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys reportedly roamed the streets and clashed with counter-protesters.
A Jewish man was accidentally attacked Saturday by left-wing protesters in Philadelphia who suspected him of being part of a small far-right rally held by the Proud Boys, according to activists at the scene.
Agencies contributed to this report.