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Democracy

Canada designates the Proud Boys a terrorist group, right alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS

Canada designates the Proud Boys a terrorist group, right alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS

For the past few years, we've watched the Proud Boys show up at rallies and protests to declare—sometimes violently—the supremacy of Western civilization, their pride in having a penis, and a glaringly apparent inferiority complex.

Today the Canadian government officially declared the Proud Boys a "terrorist entity," adding the group to a list that includes notorious terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. The move comes after the Canadian Parliament unanimously passed a motion last month for the federal government to make the designation.

The Proud Boys is a men's club whose members identify themselves as "Western Chauvinists." The group was formed in 2016 by Canadian Gavin McInnes, who has since cut ties with the group (apparently to help some members who were facing assault and riot charges in 2018). According to the AP, McInnes has claimed that the group is not a far-right extremist group that espouses racist ideology, however, he has acknowledged that there is overlap between the Proud Boys and white nationalist groups.


The group was reportedly part of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6—a detail noted by government officials. Though the Capitol attack was not the "driving" factor for the designation, they said that it did put a lot of information into the public domain, which went into the intelligence reports.

"Their intent and their escalation toward violence became quite clear," Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a briefing.

Blair said that they've seen this escalation toward violence since 2018, and that group members espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist ideologies.

"The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs," the Canadian government explained in briefing materials, adding that the group "regularly attends Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests as counter-protesters, often engaging in violence targeting BLM supporters. On January 6, 2021, the Proud Boys played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol."

According to the Washington Post, a terrorist designation means the police can seize group or group members' property and banks can seize their assets. People can be prosecuted for giving the group money or paraphernalia, and group members can be denied entry to Canada.

Canada is the first country to designate the Proud Boys a terrorist group. However, some anti-hate and civil liberties groups in Canada have been unsure about the wisdom of such a designation.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network wrote on Twitter, "We have previously expressed concern that the definition of a terrorist entity would have to change, or the bar be lowered, to list the Proud Boys—on the basis that a loosened definition could be exploited to target BIPOC or anti-racist groups in the future." However, they added, Minister Blair had contacted them to address the concern, telling them that based on the information the government has, the Proud Boys "more than meet the criteria to be designated a terrorist entity."

When asked in today's press briefing whether the U.S. would consider a similar declaration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded, "We, of course, have a review underway—a domestic violence extremism review...I expect we will wait for that review to conclude before making any determinations."

While it's understandable that investigations have to happen as they did in Canada, this designation is merely acknowledging what we've all seen with our own eyes. We've already had the FBI warn us that white supremacists are our biggest domestic terror threat and Congress has also acknowledged that "white supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States." In addition, on January 30, prosecutors announced conspiracy charges against the Proud Boys for their role in the Capitol riot.

It's not a stretch to see that the Proud Boys, who engage in political violence and who closely fraternize with white supremacists even if they deny espousing those views as a group, pose a clear and present threat to the safety and security of our nation.

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