Jhe document is so rudimentary and formal that it resembles the annual minutes of a firm of tax accountants. Its index lists sections on “goals” and “rules of engagement” and features an “addendum” that provides recommendations for hotels and parking.
On the cover, two words give a clue to the notoriety of the group that produced it: “MAGA” and “WARNING”. That and the date: January 5, 2021, the day before the attack on the US Capitol.
What isn’t said on the cover and barely mentioned throughout the 23 pages is that this is the work of one of America’s most violent political gangs, the far-right street fighters whom Donald Trump told to “stand back and stay away”: the proud boys.
The document, first published by the Guardian, gives a very rare insight into the meticulous planning of the events organized by the far-right club.
The Proud Boys have been named hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and were allegedly the main organizers of the violent assault on the Capitol.
In the wake of January 6, which was related when nine people died, the New York march presented in the document was canceled and the strategy so meticulously laid out was never implemented. But the document remains highly revealing.
It shows how the Proud Boys prepare for potentially violent encounters and then to cover their tracks — something prosecutors have pointed out but never seen in the group’s own words. It exposes the militaristic structure and language the Proud Boys have adopted, and their aspiration to become the frontline vigilante force in a Trump-led America.
It also provides clues as to how the group continues to spread its tentacles across the United States despite the fact that many of its top leaders, including its national president, Enrique Tarrio, are behind bars awaiting trial. the charges of seditious conspiracy.
The purpose of the document is to provide a “strategic security plan” and a call to action, summoning members of the Proud Boys to a planned pro-Trump Maga march in New York City on January 10, 2021. This was four days after that Congress had to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election – the occasion that would be targeted by the fatal insurrection.
The document was obtained from a member of the Proud Boys by extremism journalist Andy Campbell while researching his new book, We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism. The book will be published tuesday. Campbell shared the document with the Guardian.
The author of the document is Randy Ireland, who as president of the group’s New York branch, the Hell’s Gate Bridge Chapter, is one of the most prominent Proud Boys in the northeastern United States. The document was circulated via Telegram, the encrypted chat app widely used by the Proud Boys as an organizing tool, to at least nine other chapters in New York and beyond.
Campbell told the Guardian that the group’s decentralized structure, in that it claims to be 157 active chapters in all but three states, is one of the Proud Boys’ greatest strengths, as evidenced by the autonomous nature of planning. from New York.
“Chapter leaders like Randy can create their own events, run independently of each other,” Campbell said. “Enrique Tarrio and other leaders are in prison, but these guys will continue what they are doing.”
“We will not disappoint”
The language of the planning document is overtly militaristic. Ireland refers to itself as “General of Security Detail”, while its subordinates in the chain of command are the “VPs” of “Recruiting”, “Scout Security” and “Team Leads”.
It is expected that around 60 Proud Boys at the January 10 event in Manhattan will be grouped into seven “tactical teams” of five to eight men each (these are all men, as one of the group’s core values is misogyny). Members are asked to bring protective gear, including “knife/stab protection, hard hats, gloves, boots, etc.” and to use radio channels, walkie-talkies or telegram to communicate with each other.
They must stick together in groups and under no circumstances allow “Normies” – ordinary Trump supporters who are not Proud Boys – or “Women” into their ranks.
“Their presence will endanger the health and safety of everyone involved in security, and simply cannot happen!” writes Ireland.
Maps on the back of the document show the positions the “scouts” and “tactical teams” should adopt at key points along the route of the march, which was to start at Columbus Circle and pass by Trump Tower.
“This place is very publicly understood to have special meaning to us,” the newspaper said, referring to Trump’s Fifth Avenue home. “WE WILL NOT DISAPPOINT! »
Campbell, who has been reporting on the Proud Boys since they began showing up at Trump rallies in early 2017, describes them as America’s most notorious political fight club. In the planning document, he sees equal parts fantasy and danger.
“These guys think of themselves as super soldiers, like some kind of military attire,” he said. “On some level, it’s funny, because nothing is actually going to turn out the way they say. But on another level, it’s alarming because it shows how much thought they have put into this stuff.
In We Are Proud Boys, Campbell traces the group from its birth in 2015-2016 to its central role on January 6, when one member, Dominic Pezzola, became the first person to cross the US Capitol. At least 30 proud boys have been accused in connection with the insurrection, including Tarrio and four others charged with seditious conspiracy – among the most serious indictments ever handed down.
The group was invented by the British founder of Vice magazine, Gavin McInnes, who called himself a “western chauvinist” and peddled bigotry. McInnes launched the Proud Boys name on his online chat in May 2016, introducing them as a “gang” and inventing a uniform, a black Fred Perry polo shirt with yellow trim.
McInnes was careful to label his creation a harmless fun, men-only satirical patriotic drinking club that later attached itself to all things Trump. But Campbell argues that from the start, political violence was built in.
A Proud Boy was an organizer for the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which an anti-fascist protester was murdered. The group staged violent rallies in Portland, Oregon. Outside of a Republican event in New York in 2018, several members have been arrested and charged with felony assault.
“Violence in the Street”
Proud Boys membership is structured into four ranks, known as “diplomas,” with the fourth granted once you “are arrested or engage in serious, violent combat for the cause,” as McInnes explained to him. -same. In an interview with Campbell for the book, McInnes denied encouraging violence and insisted that the Proud Boys were never proactively aggressive, only reacting to attacks from the left.
This official line is reiterated in the document published by the Guardian. Ireland are careful to present the Proud Boys as a defensive group.
He writes: “If violence erupts, all Proud Boys must respond immediately – only to the extent that they eliminate and end this threat to themselves or others. VERY IMPORTANT: Once the threat is neutralized, WE STOP!”
But there is a glaring contradiction: Ireland presents its chapter as a non-violent organization and yet it seeks violence. He assigns the group, uninvited, the role of a vigilant police force.
“We are there as the first line of defense for all participants in the event,” he wrote, then contradicted himself by saying that the Proud Boys’ only role is to play a “backup role” for the forces of order and “force them to do their job”.
That says a lot. This implies that if the police don’t attack anti-fascist protesters, Proud Boys will.
“I’ve reported at Proud Boys events where they stood back and relaxed as police fired tear gas and other ammunition into crowds of counter-protesters,” Campbell said. “Then the Proud Boys didn’t have to do what Randy Ireland is alluding to here – step in and fight themselves.”
For Campbell, the most troubling aspect of the document is that, with its soft-lensed doublespeak and conflicting meanings, it arguably fits into the Proud Boys’ core ambition: the normalization of political violence. Despite so many leaders behind bars, the group is thriving.
As new chapters emerge, Americans are becoming more accustomed to the idea of heavily armed gangs in public places. The Proud Boys have posed as “security details” at anti-abortion rallies, anti-vaccination protests, pro-gun protests, and of course Trump rallies.
“The street-level violence that the Proud Boys helped create is now being perpetrated by ordinary people,” Campbell said. “You saw it on January 6, you see it at Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ+ events where people are being harassed and attacked by regular Americans.”