The Proud Boys faction in Manitoba has disbanded amid what experts said was an exodus from the far-right group following last week’s pro-Trump violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Through an email account used by the Proud Boys Manitoba, the group confirmed to Global News on Tuesday it had folded.
“Proud Boys Manitoba are formally disbanding due to ever-growing differences between our autonomous chapter’s values and how the name is perceived,” the group said in a statement.
“Although we as an organization have always been opposed to political violence, the recent events in the United States has (sic) made it impossible for us to continue. With solid leadership and a proper code of conduct internationally The Proud Boys could have been a great thing.”
A separate statement posted on Telegram, said to be from the Manitoba chapter’s founder, blamed the “left-wing media” for tarnishing the Proud Boy name, and spoke of a forthcoming “rebrand.”
Self-described “proud Western chauvinists,” Proud Boys members played a role in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, and the group’s leader was arrested prior to the siege.
According to experts and activists, at least two Canadian Proud Boys chapters have since dissolved following a crackdown on their online platforms and calls for their addition to Canada’s list of terrorist groups.
“Since Jan. 6, multiple members of Proud Boys chapters have left the organization, with some chapters like Ottawa and Manitoba shutting down entirely,” said Elizabeth Simons, deputy director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
“In light of what happened in D.C., some Proud Boys are panicking and looking to distance themselves from the group and movement. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with other groups across Canada.”
Global News contacted Canadian Proud Boys chapters in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes by email following the siege in Washington, D.C.
Email accounts affiliated with the Edmonton and two B.C. chapters responded with vulgarities. The rest did not respond, except for Manitoba, which said it was shutting down.
The demise of the Manitoba wing was first announced on the Winnipeg Antifascists Facebook page, which said it had contacted local Proud Boys to ask if they would renounce the group.
Several members responded that they had left, said Omar Kinnarath, organizer of Fascist Free Treaty 1. He said it was noteworthy that the Proud Boys’ collapse was the result of community action.
The “community just proved that they do not need lists, terror designations or the help of state actors to combat fascists and fascist groups,” he said.
“All we need is an informed, organized community who value diversity and act quickly and swiftly whenever far-right organizations appear.”
The Proud Boys were founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, and are described in a Canadian Armed Forces report as an “extremist conservative group” that is “openly Islamophobic and misogynistic.”
Among those arrested for entering the U.S. Capitol building during the confirmation of president-elect Joseph Biden’s election victory were the leader of the Proud Boys Hawaii chapter.
Nick Ochs had earlier posted messages on social media repeating President Donald Trump’s false claims that he had won the election.
“Self-identified members of the Proud Boys descended on Washington, D.C. earlier this week, as part of activities planned to protest the certification of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election results,” the FBI wrote in an affidavit concerning Ochs’ arrest.
U.S. authorities are also concerned about the potential for further violence during Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
On Tuesday, the FBI said it had arrested an Illinois man, Louis Capriotte, 45, for allegedly threatening to kill Democrats during the event.
The recent exit of Proud Boys members “doesn’t absolve them for their actions against racialized and others marginalized people,” Simons said. “Existing chapters and members must continue to be exposed and held accountable.”
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