Proud Boys at a gun rights rally on 1 May, 2021, in Salem, Oregon. (Getty/ Nathan Howard)
The Canadian chapter of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys has dissolved itself, while insisting it was “never a white supremacy group”.
In February this year, Proud Boys was officially designated a white supremacist terrorist group in Canada, for their “pivotal role” in the 6 January riots at the US capitol.
In a statement posted to social media Sunday (2 May), the group said there is “officially no longer any Proud Boys in Canada”, according to Reuters.
It added: “The truth is we were never terrorists or a white supremacy group… We are electricians, carpenters, financial advisers, mechanics, etc.
“More than that, we are fathers, brothers, uncles and sons.”
The group said that it had dissolved after facing financial difficulties while trying to fight its terrorist group designation, which was voted for unanimously in Canadian parliament.
Being designated a terrorist group in Canada does not make it illegal to be a Proud Boys member, but it does prohibit knowingly providing assistance to the group and allows banks to freeze their assets.
The self-described “western chauvinist” organisation and Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, was founded by Gavin McInnes, a Canadian, anti-LGBT+ former journalist living in the United States.
The group, which holds viciously racist, homophobic and transphobic beliefs, made headlines around the world in September, 2020, when Donald Trump refused to denounce them on a debate stage with Joe Biden, infamously instructing them to “stand back and stand by”.
The Proud Boys interpreted the “shout out” as the former president’s endorsement, and within the hour they had added the instruction to their new logo.
At least six members of the group, including one of its top-ranking leaders, Joseph Biggs, were charged over the storming of the Capitol on 6 January.
Current Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio travelled to Washington DC for the rally, but was arrested two days before the attack on charges of destruction of property, after he allegedly tore down a Black Lives Matter flag from a historic Black church and burned it.