Despite setbacks, far-right extremists are winning positions in mainstream Northwest politics

By | March 28, 2023

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports:

Dan Tooze spent most of the day on Aug. 22, 2021, sporting a Proud Boys T-shirt and body armor. Like many in the group, Tooze was armed — a wooden baton in hand and a pistol on his belt. He was in Portland’s Parkrose neighborhood for a rally held by the violent, extremist group whose emblem was emblazoned on his chest.

The rally began with speeches, including several defending the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and others rife with transphobia.

The Proud Boys have made a habit of coming to the city to incite clashes and when counterprotesters arrived, the demonstration quickly turned violent. The Proud Boys pursued them toward Parkrose Middle School. Tooze led the pack, pointing his baton toward the anti-fascists and screaming over his shoulder for others to charge. Tooze and others in his group smashed the windows of a minivan and at one point, he swung and hit someone from behind with his baton. Other Proud Boys went on to beat a person sitting in a nearby truck, leading to felony charges against the assailants.

After the brawl subsided, Tooze, still clutching his baton and a White Claw in one hand and flashing the white nationalist “OK” sign with the other, posed for a photo in front of a van the group had flipped over.

Several of the Proud Boys who were there that day were charged with felonies.

Tooze ran for office.

In his first bid for elected office, Tooze, who lives in Oregon City, got 40% of the vote in the Oregon House District 40 Republican primary. And though he lost that race, he went on to get elected vice chair of the Clackamas County Republican Party, a role which positions him to help spread his violent extremist brand of politics to his neighbors and to influence which candidates the party backs or helps appoint to vacant seats.

Tooze’s transition from leading street battles to elected party leader wasn’t an isolated event.

Despite several high-profile, far-right politicians losing in November, experts say the authoritarian movements they represent were not defeated in the midterms. In counties across the Pacific Northwest, a range of fringe, often violent, political movements have coalesced. With the groups now united, those experts say they are expanding their reach and continuing to inch into the mainstream. [Continue reading…]