Gavin McInnes

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Gavin McInnes’ return, Jan. 6 plea splinter Proud Boys into competing factions

The extremist group may be splitting apart.

 

Claire Goforth

Tech

The Proud Boys have been adrift for months following the arrests of top leaders over their alleged role in organizing the Capitol riot. Infighting and suspicions are running wild.

An internal battle, members’ ousters, and a guilty plea recently plunged the far-right group into further disarray.

As first reported by the Daily Beast, questions about longtime leader Enrique Tarrio’s loyalty have splintered the Proud Boys into two factions: “National” Proud Boys who remain loyal to him, and “Standard” Proud Boys who oppose his leadership.

As the conflict festered, founder Gavin McInnes stepped in. On Telegram last month, McInnes claimed that federal agents are secretly meddling to turn them against one another. He offered no evidence for this allegation.

In Body Image
Gavin McInnes/Telegram

McInnes’ post about the supposed “fed op” prompted more than 1,500 comments, many from people still angry at him for faking his arrest to go on vacation.

Some questioned why he felt entitled to issue decrees, given he officially left the group in 2018. Multiple people accused McInnes himself of being a fed.

Arguments between and about Standard and National Proud Boys ensued.

“There is no ‘national’ or standard. It’s just called The Proud Boys and non-Proud Boys,” wrote one.

Comment from a Telegram user who claims to have started the “Standard” Proud Boys

In a subsequent effort to cool the drama, McInnes subsequently announced that two members have been kicked out. He said that any chapter who harbors them would also be booted, “disavowed” in Proud Boys’ parlance.

He described the situation as a “massive civil war” featuring “two chapters versus everyone else.”

McInnes expelling members has raised internal and external questions about whether he actually left the group as he claimed.

Irrespective of whether he’s a Proud Boy, McInnes’ attempt to smooth things over doesn’t seem to have been effective, as the fighting continues.

A high-profile member’s guilty plea in one of the seditious conspiracy cases brought against Proud Boys over the Capitol riot plunged the group into further chaos.

Last week, former Proud Boys leader Jeremy Bertino (“Noble Beard”) pled guilty to seditious conspiracy over his role in organizing the assault on democracy at the Capitol riot.

Bertino is the first Proud Boy to plead guilty to this charge. He is cooperating with law enforcement in exchange for leniency.

Bertino’s allegations against his fellow Proud Boys could provide prosecutors with key evidence to convict his alleged co-conspirators, which include Tarrio and several other Proud Boys leaders. The others have pled not guilty to the charges over the Capitol riot.

In the court filing, Bertino claims that the Proud Boys planned to use violence to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. He said that the group become more extremist and violent leading up to the riot and that, weeks beforehand, Tarrio created a chapter called Ministry of Self Defense (MOSD) that included Bertino, Tarrio, and other prominent Proud Boys. MOSD organized their plans for the Capitol riot, per Bertino.

In a release, the Justice Department said, “Bertino understood from his discussions with MOSD leadership that they agreed that the presidential election had been stolen, that the purpose of traveling to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, was to stop the certification of the Electoral College Vote, and that the MOSD leaders were willing to do whatever it would take, including using force against police and others, to achieve that objective.”

According to court documents, Bertino says he monitored the group’s progress via social media and private communications during the riot. He was not present, as he was recuperating from a stab wound received in a separate incident weeks prior.

During the riot, Bertino posted updates on Telegram to encourage and assist in the operation, per court records. After he was informed that they’d breached the Capitol, Bertino wrote, “Storming the Capitol now building right now!” He later wrote “they are moving the cops back” and “I have tears in my eyes.”

Although Congress certified the election, in the court filing, Bertino claims that the Proud Boys’ mood was celebratory that night. He purportedly messaged Tarrio, “You know we made this happen,” referencing delaying certification of the election and their success at inspiring others to join in the violent assault on Congress.

Bertino’s plea deal roiled the already divided Proud Boys. People in Telegram channels frequented by members of the group are now accusing him of being a traitor and hinting at violence.

“He will put many of his colleagues in jail while he walks free. So he will stand for sure,” wrote one, prompting another to respond, “Stand against the wall.”

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