PORTLAND, Ore. — In the months since the siege at the U.S. Capitol in January, federal investigators have regarded carefully at the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group at the forefront of the riot. Agents have pried into the group’s encrypted messages, pored over video footage of their exploits and constructed prison circumstances towards a minimum of two dozen members.
The authorities in Canada have joined in the crackdown, designating the group as a terrorist group, a transfer that permits the authorities to grab property in that nation.
The group’s chief, Enrique Tarrio, was sentenced by the native district court docket in Washington on Monday to 5 months in jail for possessing high-capacity rifle magazines a number of days earlier than the siege and for burning a stolen Black Lives Matter banner after a separate pro-Trump rally descended into violence in December.
But regardless of the intensifying scrutiny, a company that constructed itself as a band of brothers prepared for violent confrontation over what its members see as an assault on Western tradition reveals no signal of going away. Members have begun regrouping on-line and becoming a member of rallies.
On Saturday, a number of Proud Boys participated in an illustration towards measures to manage the coronavirus in South Carolina — one of many forays the group is making into native politics. Then on Sunday, dozens of activists sporting the group’s yellow-and-black colours rallied in Portland, Ore., the place they fought in the streets with antifascist counterprotesters, taking pictures paintball weapons and smashing home windows. One arrest was made after gunfire broke out.
ImageThe Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group, shot paintballs at antifascists throughout an open brawl.Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times
The occasion had been billed as a rally to unite right-wing teams, but it surely prominently featured the Proud Boys, a bunch whose members have espoused misogynistic, Islamophobic, antisemitic and anti-immigrant views. The rally on Sunday developed right into a protest over the incarceration of the rioters who set siege to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
With supporters coming from California, Washington State and as far-off as New York, the occasion confirmed that the Proud Boys have been ready to proceed partaking in the type of public violence that first attracted a regulation enforcement crackdown.
The Proud Boys have been established throughout the 2016 presidential election and gained substantial momentum via the tenure of President Donald J. Trump, who famously known as upon them to “stand back and stand by”; their members have been afforded a sure diploma of leniency by regulation enforcement brokers who at occasions favored the group in its conflicts with antifa and different leftist protesters.
That modified after Jan. 6, when a mob of about 100 Proud Boys and their supporters pushed previous safety obstacles at the Capitol and, prosecutors say, took a number one function in serving to the bigger throng of pro-Trump protesters violently breach the constructing. Members of the group have been at “the tip of the spear,” court docket papers say, amongst the first rioters to shatter home windows, break down doorways and confront the police inside. The F.B.I. has additional discovered that each earlier than and after the Capitol assault, two Proud Boy leaders spoke of riling up the “normies” — the atypical individuals in the crowd.
Image At least two dozen Proud Boys face prison expenses in the Capitol riot.Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times
In the wake of the riot, the federal authorities introduced the full weight of their powers to bear on investigating the group. F.B.I. brokers have executed search warrants in New York, California, Florida, Missouri and Washington State. Prosecutors culled via lots of of non-public messages on apps like Telegram and social media platforms like Parler. Investigators have focused leaders of the Proud Boys particularly, arresting chapter presidents from Honolulu, Seattle, Philadelphia and the Winston-Salem space in North Carolina.
Among the targets of the federal crackdown have been Proud Boys from the Pacific Northwest, which has an extended historical past as a base for right-wing extremist teams. One of them, Ethan Nordean of Auburn, Wash., has been labeled by federal authorities as one of the leaders of the Capitol assault. Federal brokers additionally arrested two brothers — Matthew Klein and Jonathanpeter Klein — for his or her roles at the Capitol.
Both Mr. Nordean and the Klein brothers have been entrenched in the Proud Boys’ world of battle lengthy earlier than Jan. 6. Mr. Nordean grew to become one of the group’s most distinguished figures after he knocked out an antifa activist in Portland throughout a protest in 2018. The Kleins appeared at different occasions in Oregon, in keeping with prosecutors, together with one final yr by which the police stopped a truck as a result of it appeared that the males in the automobile may need been getting ready for violent battle. Matthew Klein, one of the individuals in the automobile, was cited for illegal possession of firearms.
During an occasion final summer time in Salem, the state capital, a bunch of right-wing demonstrators — together with a number of sporting Proud Boys attire — chased a smaller group of counterdemonstrators, hitting them and firing paintballs. The Proud Boys later celebrated one of the assaults in video posted on-line.
Although the Proud Boys have lengthy been amongst Mr. Trump’s most ardent backers, the occasions of Jan. 6 precipitated some in the group to reassess their help for the former president. Mr. Nordean later instructed his colleagues, in a bunch chat obtained by the F.B.I., that he felt betrayed by Mr. Trump for having inspired the Proud Boys to consider that “great justice” was on the horizon however by no means following via on the promise.
“I’ve followed this guy for 4 years and given everything and lost it all,” Mr. Nordean wrote in the chat. “Trump, you left us on the battlefield bloody and alone.”
ImageA automobile left broken after the Proud Boys and antifascists clashed.Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times
Since the Jan. 6 riot, the Proud Boys Pacific Northwest chapter, which incorporates teams in Oregon and Washington, elected to interrupt from the nationwide group and its nationwide chairman, Mr. Tarrio, in keeping with a court docket declaration filed by Daniel Arellano, the president of the group’s Seattle chapter. That transfer got here whilst Mr. Tarrio’s historical past as a federal informant was instantly uncovered, damaging his standing amongst many of his friends.
But all through the turmoil, Mr. Tarrio, who lives in Miami, has managed to take care of his grip on energy regardless of a handful of rivals difficult his authority.
Mr. Tarrio’s private troubles deepened on Monday with the information that he could be spending a little bit greater than 5 months in jail.
The sentence was handed down a day after the Proud Boys’ newest violent foray in Portland. They gathered on Sunday in a retail parking zone, elevating an American flag and hoisting a banner referring to individuals arrested as a result of of the Jan. 6 riot as “political prisoners.”
After antifascist demonstrators arrived on scene, the Proud Boys pursued them with batons, Mace, improvised fireworks and paintball weapons. “Let’s go,” shouted one of the Proud Boys leaders as the group went off in pursuit of the antifascist activists, who additionally used violent techniques throughout the confrontation and at one level attacked a journalist documenting the scene.
ImageA person fired a number of pictures with a handgun throughout the competing rallies in Portland.Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times
At a close-by center college, a number of Proud Boys surrounded a counterdemonstrator seated in a truck. One of them entered the truck and started beating the man.
Later, about 10 miles away in the metropolis’s downtown, a person was arrested after he exchanged gunfire with antifascist demonstrators, in keeping with a police report and a overview of video footage from the scene. No one seems to have been struck.
The man who was arrested, Dennis G. Anderson, a 65-year-old Gresham resident, was charged with illegal use of a weapon and illegal possession of a firearm, and the Portland Police Bureau mentioned it was on the lookout for a number of extra individuals who might have fired a weapon.
Mr. Tarrio has claimed that help for the group has solely grown since Jan. 6 and mentioned he expects the Proud Boys will most likely focus much less on giant public occasions for the foreseeable future. Instead, he mentioned, together with supporting these being charged with crimes in the Capitol siege, he’s exploring a run for workplace and needs to assist Proud Boys get elected round the nation.
“People think we are just going to go away,” Mr. Tarrio mentioned in an interview on Monday. “We are not. Like it or not, we are here to stay.”
Stephen Piggott, a researcher who displays right-wing extremism for the left-leaning nonprofit Western States Center, fears that to be true. “They haven’t waned in their commitment to commit acts of violence,” he mentioned.
Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting.