Proud Boys founder disavows violence at Charlottesville but one of its members organized the event

Jason Kessler, who described dead counter-protestor Heather Heyer as a "fat, disgusting Communist," was filmed being initiated into the Proud Boys.

Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is surrounded by supporters after speaking at a rally Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is surrounded by supporters after speaking at a rally Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The founder of the far-right “Proud Boys” has gone on the record disavowing the so-called “alt-right” – but the condemnation doesn’t mean much, since one of its own members was a main organizer for the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Gavin McInnes, who founded the “pro-Western fraternal organization,” said that the “Alt-Right wants to start infiltrating our meetings” and plans on “doing terrible things while wearing our shirts in an effort to discredit us.” McInnes said that this attempted sabotage was due to the Proud Boys’ refusal to “unite the right.”

“If you know of anyone who is presently a member and who is Alt-Right, they are cut from the club as of right now,” McInness said. “If you refuse, you are your own separate entity and not affiliated with Proud Boys.”

He described the Proud Boys as a “men’s club that meets about once a month to drink beer” and said that Proud Boys were at odds with the Alt-Right over “the ‘JQ’ and racial identity politics.”


“We openly encourage Jewish and non-white members and want them to know they’re at home with us,” McInnes wrote in a post on the Proud Boys website on Monday. “The last thing we want is for them to feel uncomfortable when hanging out with their drinking buddies.”

But McInnes’ piece ignored the role members of Proud Boys played in the violence in Charlottesville nearly two weeks ago. Jason Kessler, a self-described “journalist and activist” who helped organize the Charlottesville rally, was a documented member of the Proud Boys. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as a “relative newcomer to the white nationalist scene” who has pointedly called Charlottesville’s only black councilman as a “pavement ape ” and “Councilman Dindu.” In June, he wrote an article titled “Yes Virginia (Dare), There Is Such A Thing As A White Genocide”.

A week after counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed at the Charlottesville rally, Kessler linked to the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website and tweeted that she was a “fat, disgusting Communist. Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”

The tweet was met with widespread backlash — even from white supremacists. Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer said Kessler’s comments were “morally dubious” and “beyond reckless.” Tim Gionet, a prominent white supremacist known as Baked Alaska, said that insulting Heyer was “terribly wrong and vile.”

Kessler later tweeted, “I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night” and said that he had taken a combination of Xanax, ambien, and alcohol and did not remember what he’d done that night.

Video footage shows Jason Kessler being “initiated” into the Proud Boys in a bizarre ritual. “[I’m] Jason Kessler,” he can be heard saying. “I’m a proud Western chauvinist.”


A since-deleted retweet by Kessler also shows a group of Proud Boys heading to downtown Charlottesville to take part in the Unite the Right rally. According to the Washington Post, Kessler has since been in hiding and is “not talking to reporters right now.”

Despite the clear links between Kessler and the Proud Boys, McInnes insists in his piece that the Proud Boys are a “fraternal organization like the Elk’s Lodge. 100% of us are Western chauvinists which simply means we all believe the West is the Best.”

McInnes helped co-found VICE in 1994, but he severed ties with the magazine a decade ago. He founded Proud Boys in 2016 and has recently tied them with the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights (FOAK), who serve as the “tactical defensive arm” of the Proud Boys.