On Wednesday, supporters of US President Donald Trump violently descended on the nation’s capital for their “Stop The Steal” protest. The planned event was intended for MAGA-ites and right-wing Americans to express their outrage over the fact that they believe Democrats stole the election from President Trump, despite absolutely no evidence to back up those claims. As white supremacists and extremists from across the country arrived at the Capitol Building, all hell broke loose — the building was breached and protesters ended up inside, occupying the Capitol and causing members of Congress to lockdown in their offices, in what CNN is calling "an armed insurrection" and "an attempted coup" by the President's supporters.
Featured prominently at the Stop the Steal protest were the Proud Boys — a white supremacist militia group who President Trump has given shoutouts to before, explicitly telling members to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate. The group is known to be friendly with police, though Tuesday night, protesters got in a massive fight with officers ahead of Wednesday's demonstration.
So, where exactly have the Proud Boys been in all of this chaos? According to VICE News reporter Tess Owen, who is on the ground at the protest, members of the Proud Boys planned to wear disguises to the event today. However, that presented a tactical concern for the group, who apparently could not locate each other due to their obscured identities. Images of extremist protestors inside the Capitol building have been widely circulated, though it's not yet clear, based on their disguises, who belongs to this particular extremist group.
The protest also comes just one day after Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arraigned and banned from Washington, D.C. for allegedly burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was taken from a historic Black church during another Stop the Steal protest last month (Tarrio has pleaded not guilty to the charges). Tarrio admitted to The Washington Post that his group had taken the flag, saying, “The sign was taken down because of what it represents.”
When the dust settles on the mob that stormed the Capitol, it might become more clear exactly how much of a role the Proud Boys themselves played in the event. One thing is certain, however: they heeded Trump's advice to "stand by," showing up to support their President by whatever means necessary.
This is an ongoing story. We will update this post as we know more.