SALT LAKE CITY — A former FBI special agent who spent his career going undercover to infiltrate extremist groups says Proud Boys, a hate group the president refused to reject while debating former Vice President Joe Biden, do not currently appear to have a foothold in Utah.
At the first presidential debate Tuesday, moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump if he would denounce the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group.
The president said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by … Somebody has got to do something about Antifa and the left.”
Who the Proud Boys are
A far-right, self-described “Western chauvinistic” group, the FBI classifies the Proud Boys as a white-supremacist hate group. They have expressed misogynistic comments, including support for rape, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The Proud Boys have also espoused anti-Muslim, anti-transgender and anti-immigration views, while some members hold white supremacist and anti-Semitic views, the ADL said.
The group celebrated their mention at the debate and called President Trump their “new leader” on Wednesday.
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) September 30, 2020
The Proud Boys are described as a “general hate” organization by The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a collection of its founder’s — Gavin McInnes — quotes here.
Not in Utah
Former FBI Special Agent Greg Rogers joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to further discuss the Proud Boys Wednesday.
Rogers, who spent much of his career doing undercover work, said Utah is not a center for white-supremacist groups.
“There are more in Idaho and Montana,” he said. “Utah does have its fair share of militia groups. And sovereign-citizen groups that have a good number of white supremacists in them.”
He added that the Proud Boys are not formally in Utah.
Proud Boys in the past
The Proud Boys were among the white-supremacist groups in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, where a woman was killed by violent neo-Nazis in 2017, Rogers said.
“[The Proud Boys] are a group of neo-fascist, white supremacists . . . They try to play that down and say they’re really just supporting Western culture. They clearly teach white-genocide conspiracy theory even though they outwardly say they reject white supremacy; they don’t,” Rogers said.
He described President Donald Trump’s comments at Tuesday’s debate about the Proud Boys as “like a teaser almost where something’s about to happen, which could be they’re going to be designated as a domestic terrorist group, which he’s trying to do with Antifa.”
“Does this kind of rhetoric, in your experience as an FBI special agent, Greg, spin up these groups or empower them in anyway?” Debbie asked.
“You know the old, overused phrase, any news is good news, for these people is true,” Rogers said. “It’s like free advertising.”
“How often do these groups resort to violence?” Dave asked.
Rogers said typically, white-supremacist groups do not use violence as much as other groups, because they know investigators watch them.
“Most of them are not [what] you would call ‘true believers’ who are willing to get incarcerated for them,” Roger said.
“But they can be very intimidating, right Greg?” Debbie asked.
“Yes, that’s what they do. You saw that in some of the rallies here about the police protests in Salt Lake. You have groups, more militia-related groups, showing up with M-16s [military rifles], completely armed. That’s very intimidating,” Rogers said.
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