Proud Boys step up activity after Jan. 6 attack, despite criminal convictions

By | May 6, 2023

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Proud Boys organization has expanded its reach since Jan. 6, 2021, researchers say, withstanding criminal prosecutions and lawsuits against members who joined in the breach of the U.S. Capitol.

The group’s former chairman, Enrique Tarrio, and three lieutenants were found guilty of sedition charges on Thursday. The historic verdict followed a lengthy jury trial in Washington’s federal courthouse, just steps from the Capitol complex stormed by Proud Boys and other supporters of then-President Donald Trump more than two years ago.

Despite this federal prosecution and others, “the Proud Boys have remained very active since Jan. 6,” said Michael Jensen, a senior researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, based at the University of Maryland.

“They really haven’t missed a beat,” Dr. Jensen said, in part by pivoting from supporting Mr. Trump’s denial of the 2020 election results to cultural grievances over issues such as gay rights.

Proud Boys membership is difficult to track, but one nonprofit that monitors extremism, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), recorded 143 incidents of Proud Boys political violence or protest activity in 2022.

That was a decrease from the 166 incidents it recorded in 2021 but an uptick compared with the 128 logged in 2020.

“Proud Boys activity actually increased after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot compared with 2020,” said ACLED’s communications head Sam Jones. “Our data indicate that they remain one of the most active—and most violent—far-right groups in the country.” [Continue reading…]