The Proud Boys, a far-right gang known for its staunch support of President Donald Trump, have long denied being a racist organization despite the fact that one of its longtime leaders is now openly admitting that he's a Nazi.
But leaked private chat transcripts obtained by Vice News show some members of the neo-Nazi organization The Base are admitting that they initially joined the Proud Boys and that the organization served as something like a gateway drug to the world of white nationalist politics.
One such message obtained by Vice comes from Yousef O. Barasneh, a 22-year-old neo-Nazi who was arrested earlier this year on terrorism charges.
"Back when the Proud Boys were big and I started wanting to do something politically, I tried joining them," he wrote in one message.
"I tried joining Proud Boys way back, but they didn’t respond or anything," wrote another neo-Nazi identified only as "Ryan" in the chats.
And Vice obtained a recording of a Massachusetts-based neo-Nazi named Chris Hood, who similarly said that he got his start in racist politics by signing up with the Proud Boys.