In a deep dive by the New York Times into the now-changing relationship between law enforcement officials and the extreme right-wing Proud Boys, one of the leaders of the group admitted that he exchanged information with federal authorities before their rallies that often turned violent.
According to the report, law enforcement officials for years have ignored the growing violence at Proud Boy rallies -- choosing instead to arrest their antagonists -- but things have changed since the Jan 6th riot when supporters of Donald Trump overran the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.
As the Times' David Kirkpatrick and Alan Feuer wrote of the Proud Boys, "The group's propensity for violence and extremism was no secret. But the F.B.I. and other agencies had often seen the Proud Boys as they chose to portray themselves, according to more than a half-dozen current and former federal officials: as mere street brawlers who lacked the organization or ambition of typical bureau targets like neo-Nazis, international terrorists and Mexican drug cartels."
According to Mike German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, he was surprised at the hands-off approach law enforcement took with the group.
"They committed violence in public, used videos of that violence to promote themselves for other rallies and then traveled across the country to engage in violence again," he recalled. "How that didn't attract F.B.I. attention is hard for me to understand."
According to Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys who has also been accused of being an FBI informant, his group was contacted by federal officials.
Tarrio claimed, "... federal agents had called or visited him on eight or so occasions before rallies in recent years. But it was never to pressure him to stay away," the Times reports.
The report continues, "Instead, he said in an interview, the agents asked for march routes and other plans in order to separate the Proud Boys from counterprotesters. Other times, he said, agents warned that they had picked up potential threats from the left against him or his associates."
As for the Jan 6th "Stop the Steal" rally, Tariio claimed he never heard a word despite its proximity to the halls of Congress and the group's violent history.
"They did not reach out to us," he stated.
"The group, whose total membership is unknown but believed to be in the thousands, has never articulated a specific ideology or dogma. Its rallies, though, feature hyper-nationalist chants about immigration, Islam and Mr. Trump. Its members have lionized Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, and their events often appear to be thinly disguised pretexts to bait opponents into confrontations," the report added. "Indeed, the Proud Boys have made little effort to hide violent intentions. In fall 2018, for example, members of a New England chapter posted notes on the online service Venmo as they paid their monthly dues and transportation costs to an October 'Resist Marxism' rally in Providence, R.I."
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Proud Boys leader reveals feds met with him before violent rallies and provided him with tips: report
March 14, 2021, 1:26 PM ET