The Proud Boys—a far-right, neo-fascist hate group that has vocally supported President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election—continues to incite violence in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection.
The extremist group has used its social media channels to spread propaganda and disinformation while gloating about the unprecedented attack on the nation’s capital. The vast majority of its posts took place on Parler, the alternative social media platform favored by the far-right, and Telegram, the encrypted messaging app and cloud chat service. While Parler was forced offline after Amazon removed it from its cloud hosting service, Telegram remains functional and has seen an influx of users over the past few days.
The official Proud Boys USA Telegram channel attempted to defend the insurrectionists, claiming that it spent months “peacefully protesting & trying to get a resolution on an election in which they didn’t trust the results.” The group then attempted to shift the attention onto Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist activists who the group alleged had spent months “using intimidation to get the changes they wanted.”
“It looks like the right has also learned this lesson,” read a statement on the Proud Boys channel. “Hope you are satisfied.”
Another prominent Proud Boys Telegram channel is “Proud Boys: Uncensored,” which is reportedly being operated by the leader of the New Hampshire chapter of the Proud Boys, Todd M. Clark. The fascism-promoting channel has continued to incite violence in the wake of the attack on the Capitol, claiming that “the difference between a patriot and a rebel depends on who wins the war.”
The channel also encouraged its followers to target politicians. It posted a clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham being harassed by an angry mob of Trump supporters at the airport with the caption, “They’re no longer safe in public … Never let these system agents known a moment of peace.”
Shortly thereafter, the “Proud Boys: Uncensored” channel polled its followers on whether or not they wanted “total war.” More than 10,500 people voted in the poll, 75 percent of whom voted “yes.”
An internal FBI memo revealed that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol over the coming weeks in the lead-up to Inauguration Day. Given the Proud Boys’ vocal support for Trump, their consistent presence at MAGA rallies, and their continued incitement of violence and armed resistance on social media, it is possible that the hate group will be involved in the reported protests.
“When whites took over the Capitol, it put fear in them,” wrote the “Proud Boys: Uncensored” Telegram channel. “They’re afraid and they’re using the full force of the government to squash this before it gets bigger. It’s too late though. The Rubicon has been crossed. The fire of revolution has been lit. Do not let them scare you. Our unity is powerful.”
The “Seattle Proud Boys” Telegram channel called on followers to “stop being complacent … fight back! Make them live in fear. You are their master.”
“You have the power,” the channel added in a post accompanying Rep. Matt Gaetz’s face. “We are free Americans and they will never take away our FREEDOM.”
Much of the sentiment was echoed by Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who was absent from the Jan. 6 riots after being arrested for his alleged role in vandalizing a historic Black church during a Dec. 12 rally. He was charged with destruction of property and two felony counts of possession of a firearm magazine. Washington police also banned the leader of the far-right hate group from the District of Columbia until his hearing in June 2021. After being forced to leave the capital, Tarrio took to Parler, where he implored followers to “never apologize” and “never stop fighting.” Then, after being asked to denounce the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, Tarrio instead doubled down by saying he is “not denouncing shit.”
“I’m done denouncing anything on the right,” Tarrio said on Parler. “I’m done giving concessions.”