On New Year’s Day, a social media channel linked to the Proud Boys posted a video of one of its members desecrating a Blue Lives Matter flag—an American flag with a thin blue line—along with the caption, “Proud Boys and American citizens and combat veterans have had enough of the police acting as system enforcers, fuck the blue.”
The post appeared shortly after the far-right, neo-fascist group took to the streets in Salem, Oregon, on Jan. 1 for an anti-lockdown protest organized by local Trump supporters. The group did not have a permit to protest, leading to police warnings that “enforcement actions may be taken for crimes committed.”
Videos from the scene showed the Proud Boys clashing with riot police when members of the hate group refused to step back and disassemble. One video from the scene showed a protester dressed in clothes emblazoned with the Proud Boys logo being arrested while another showed Proud Boys members being shot at with non-lethal munition and flash bangs.
“I’m fucking moving,” one protester said. “You don’t have to shoot me, you c***sucker.”
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) January 2, 2021
The subsequent arrests led to chants of “fuck the blue,” which is a significant pivot away from the Proud Boys’ longstanding support for law enforcement, whom they viewed as allies in their ongoing battle against anti-fascist activists.
The melee between the Proud Boys and the police came days after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler promised a zero-tolerance policy toward property destruction and demanded that the Oregon Legislature increase criminal penalties for repeat vandalism offenders.
“There are just some people on this planet who are bent on criminal destruction,” Wheeler said. “There are just some people who want to watch the world burn.”
Meanwhile, the Proud Boys have launched a social media campaign targeting “system enforcers” around the world. One post claimed that police officers in Ireland were racist while another video claimed to show police officers in Gatineau Quebec forcing entry into a home that was breaking mandatory lockdown regulations. Each post ended with the words “f*** the blue.”
The Proud Boys were also trending on Twitter this past weekend as people posted videos of the Salem, Oregon melee and mocked the far-right male-only group for its change of heart regarding the police.
“Cops being aggressive with the Proud Boys might be my new kink, just sayin,” wrote op-ed Guardian columnist Holly Figueroa O’Reilly.