The far-right Proud Boys organization has announced that it will be suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly “slandering” its members.
Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer attended a Proud Boys press event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday and found that the group’s members had unveiled a new campaign called “Stop the Slander” aimed at hitting back at people who allege the organization has ties to white supremacists.
“The Proud Boys announce that, like founder Gavin McInnes, they’re suing the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Sommer reports. “No word on what the gorilla on their banner represents.”
The Proud Boys announce that, like founder Gavin McInnes, they’re suing the Southern Poverty Law Center. No word on what the gorilla on their banner represents. pic.twitter.com/HGmNQdIVFz
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) May 20, 2019
Later in the press conference, Sommer learned that the gorilla on the Proud Boys’ banner was meant as a “tribute” to Harambe, the late gorilla who was the subject of multiple memes back in 2016, when he was killed by a zoo worker who feared for the safety of a three-year-old boy who had climbed into the gorilla’s enclosed space.
Although the Proud Boys have regularly worked to distance themselves from explicit white nationalists, the SPLC’s page on the group claims that “their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists.”
The SPLC also claims that Proud Boys founder McInnes “has ties to the racist right and has contributed to hate sites like VDare.com and American Renaissance, both of which publish the work of white supremacists and so-called ‘race realists.'”