The FBI has pulled against liberal orthodoxy and has officially ruled that the “Proud Boys” is not an “extremist” organization.
The right-wing group has been involved in countless clashes with dangerous Antifa thugs in Oregon, Washington, and California over the last few months, and officials in Washington State have proclaimed them an extremist group. But now the FBI has ruled that the Proud Boys do not qualify as extremists.
After officials in Washington State attempted to characterize the Proud Boys as a “white supremacist” group, the FBI pulled back from that claim.
“We do not intend and did not intend to designate the group as extremist,” said Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon, according to The Hill newspaper.
The statement came on the heels of a slide-show presentation given by the FBI to members of Washington State’s law enforcement community.
The FBI included the Proud Boys in the slide show that also featured Nazi groups and white nationalist groups. But after the slide-show presentation, state officials lumped Proud Boys in with other extremist groups. That was not the FBI’s intention, the Bureau said.
In a statement to The Hill in November, the FBI emphasized its investigations “focus solely on criminal activity of individuals — regardless of group membership—which appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion.”
The agency also told The Hill, “The FBI can never initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
“Our focus is not on membership in particular groups but on individuals who commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security,” the statement also said. “The FBI does not and will not police ideology.”
One of the organization’s spokesmen, Internet personality Gavin McInnes, recently explained what the Proud Boys is really about and insisted that they do not consider themselves to be “white nationalists”:
McInnes, though, recently quit the group saying that he did so to try and take some of the media heat off the Proud Boys.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.