This week, Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced off in the first presidential debate for the 2020 election. The most telling moment of the debate was when the moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump to condemn white supremacist and militia groups. These racist groups have been showing up, often armed with guns, to Black Lives Matter rallies and protests against police violence taking place in cities across the country, including here in New Mexico.
Trump not only refused to condemn white supremacists, but he also CALLED THEM TO ACTION.
Here’s the exchange:
MSNBC – Edited by PNNM
Unsurprisingly, Trump pivoted away from the question, taking zero responsibility for his role in the continuing rise of white supremacy and projecting the problem onto others. Needless to say, the world was watching and Trump’s direction to the Proud Boys to “stand by” sent a shock across social media platforms.
Members of the Proud Boys heard Trump’s words as an endorsement of their armed presence at BLM protests, at polling locations and as a Presidential order to prepare for violent confrontations with “antifa and the left.”
Keep in mind “antifa” stands for anti-fascist and is not an organization.
The Proud Boys seized this dark moment, changing their logo and mobilizing in online forums like 4chan with violent messaging.
Who are the Proud Boys?
The Proud Boys are a racist, white supremacist, and right-wing extremist organization which has chapters across the United States, including here in New Mexico. Some key history on the Proud Boys.
They call themselves “Western chauvinists” which is coded language for European-centric, white supremacy.
While their founder Gavin McInnes says they are “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt,” these are—ironically—politically correct ways of saying racist, sexist, nationalist, transphobic, etc.
Proud Boys showed up to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, alongside the KKK and alt-right groups. One of the rally’s chief organizers, Jason Eric Kessler, is a Proud Boy.
They voluntarily “provided security” for Trump political adviser Roger Stone in March of 2018 when he appeared in Portland, Oregon who said he feared being attacked. Nothing happened.
Proud Boys in New Mexico
Yes, the Proud Boys exist in New Mexico.
While legacy media largely ignored their presence around and within the Trump campaign, over the last year, ProgressNow New Mexico has covered much of their local presence at the New Mexico Capitol and their overlapping membership with the NM Civil Guard in the Oñate statue shooting.
We as a staff have also dealt with the violent actions of the Proud Boys. Today, the news is everywhere, including CNN, The New York Times, and even in our own Albuquerque Journal. Here’s a short history of the Proud Boys’ presence in New Mexico.
In September 2019, during the “Freedom First Flag Wave” the Proud Boys joined other white supremacist and militia groups in downtown Albuquerque a few days ahead of a Trump rally in Rio Rancho. They were outnumbered 5-to-1 by counter protesters. This is in large part because our community organized and planned to promote safety due to the Proud Boys’ history of violence.
One person was detained by police when witnesses saw him brandish a gun and assaulted a counter-protester who was taking video. Here is that footage.
The day of the September 2019 Trump rally in Rio Rancho, ProgressNow New Mexico joined a coalition of groups in Old Town’s Tiguex Park for a peaceful protest far away from the rally to protect demonstrators against violent, right-wing extremists- specifically, the Proud Boys, who pulled a gun on a community member only days before.
Just days ago, members of the New Mexico chapter of the Proud Boys decried reports that their organization is a violent hate group as reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican. A day after this article ran, the nationally televised Presidential debate highlighted their status as a white supremacist organization.
Yesterday, a Proud Boy member who was in attendance at the 2019 “Flag Wave” rally in Albuquerque was arrested in Portland, OR for 12 charges, “including multiple felonies for assault and unlawful use of a weapon, and misdemeanors for pointing a firearm at another person, menacing and the unlawful use of tear gas.” as reported by Forbes.
Protect the Election from White Supremacist Voter Intimidation & Suppression
Showing up for social justice and fighting against white supremacy takes many forms. Sometimes we take to the streets, and other times (like now) we need to show up for each other by protecting our families from voter suppression.
During the Presidential debate, Trump gave free reign to groups like the Proud Boys to intimidate and harass voters at the polls. He tried to sow seeds of doubt in the integrity of the election — likely because all signs point to him losing.
We’re asking you to do everything you can to push back against Trump’s intimidation tactics and inappropriate use of executive power — and right now, it’s critical that our social justice movements include election protection.
Help us protect the election from voter suppression and intimidation from groups like the Proud Boys.
Thanks to our friends at Common Cause New Mexico who shared this information with us, there are a lot of different ways to lend your support to the movement!
Become a poll watcher. We know that many right-wing extremists will be going to the polls to intimidate voters. We need your help in making sure every voter has access!
Become an absentee poll watcher. This year, vote by mail is more important than ever! This will be a critical role during the 2020 election!
Become a poll monitor. Help distribute PPE, and connect voters who are denied a ballot to legal resources!
Got wheels? Become a roving poll monitor. Use a checklist to drive (or bike!) between polling places and check on lines, signage, and poll preparation.
Social media savvy? Become a social media monitor. Identify voters who are posting on social media about problems voting, connecting them to resources and support, and report vote-related mis/disinformation.
Law student, licensed attorney, or have a legal background? Become a 866-OUR VOTE hotline monitor. Respond and field calls from voters concerning election deadlines, trouble at the polls, and other issues and track and record information accordingly.
Texting machine? Become a voter contact. Use text banking and phone banking tools to talk to thousands of voters to give them accurate voting information and support.
What are you waiting for? Help us stand up to white supremacy in New Mexico. Register for these volunteer positions at ProtectTheVote.net.