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Who is Enrique Tarrio? A look at 'white supremacist' Proud Boys leader's ties with Republicans like Trump Jr

President Trump initially said the group 'stand back and stand by' after he was asked to denounce their alleged white supremacist views, but later he backtracked from his earlier views
Enrique Tarrio (Getty Images)
Enrique Tarrio (Getty Images)

Far-right group of Proud Boys, referred to as a "white supremacist" faction in the US presidential debate, is led by the state director of Latinos for Trump. The group leader reportedly ran for the Congress as a Republican. Daily Mail revealed that Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio is close to the Republican party and has been pictured with the president's son Donald Trump Jr. Tarrio is also currently serving as the Florida state director of the political support group which aims to re-elect POTUS Donald Trump.

Proud Boys was brought into the limelight on the first presidential debate held on Tuesday, September 29. In that event, Trump suggested the group “stand back and stand by” after he was asked to denounce their alleged white supremacist views. Later, on Wednesday, September 30, Trump backtracked from his earlier views on the group and told reporters he does not know about the Proud Boys. "I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” the POTUS told reporters.

Proud Boys flash the OK hand signal, a gesture often associated with far-right groups, during Proud Boy rally on September 26, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency prior to Saturdays rally as fears of political violence between Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter protesters grew (Getty Images)

However, Daily Mail suggests that Tarrio, the leader of Proud Boys, has ties with Republicans, including Trump Jr, Senator Ted Cruz and Roger Stone. The site reports that Tarrio posted a photo with Trump Jr online and captioned, “Blurry but at least we spoke about the rampant censorship of conservatives." However, the photo cannot be accessed on any online platform at present. The report reveals that Tarrio, 36, has been pictured with Trump confidant, Roger Stone, who is a Proud Boys member. He's seen to the left of Stone in a photo posted to Instagram on the account named "rogerjstonejr". The account is not visible now on Instagram though. Daily Mail then reveals that Tarrio was pictured with Republican senator Ted Cruz as well. Cruz co-sponsored a Senate resolution based on a petition written by Tarrio to designate the anarchist Left-wing group Antifa as a "domestic terrorist organization".

Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, reacts to protesters from various anti-fascist groups on November 16, 2019, in New York City (Getty Images)

After such claims and reports of Tarrio being tied with Trump and GOP, a spokesman for the Trump campaign told the Daily Mail, “The individual you wrote about here is not affiliated with the Trump Campaign, our Latinos for Trump Coalition, or the Trump Family," the spokesman said. “He is also not the state director of our coalition and is not on our advisory board.”

With such claims and reports, it is worth pondering who Enrique Tarrio is?

Who is Enrique Tarrio

Media reports suggest that Tarrio lives in Miami-Dade County and was raised in a Cuban family in Little Havana in Miami. He has succeeded Gavin McInnes as the leader of the Proud Boys in 2018. Tarrio after being elected the group's leader said: “Yes, I am the new chairman of the Proud Boys International.” Tarrio expressed his election to the role as reported by Heavy, “Basically, how the process works is since our organization has a very loose structure, chapter autonomy is big for us, so basically we have the presidents and vice presidents of a respective chapter and they go ahead and vote in what we’ve always had is a membership of eight elder and those eight elders go ahead and elect the chairman.”

Chairmen of Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio and Joe Biggs pose for a selfie with other members during the End Domestic Terrorism rally on August 17, 2019, in Portland, Oregon (Getty  Images)

Tarrio told Heavy how he was "lured" to the group as it looked similar to the atmosphere he had been conditioned into at home in his growing up years. “My house, at like 7 o’clock in the morning, there’s like 20 people, in my house, talking about politics, roasting each other, just making fun of each other. I was brought up in that environment, so that kind of brings me into the fu**ery that comes along with being a Proud Boy,” Tarrio reportedly said.

A man holds a sign of Proud Boys during an agitation against Black Lives Matter protesters on August 15, 2020, in downtown Portland, Oregon (Getty Images)

He then threw light on certain issues like the prison system and immigration and said that Proud Boys have been demonized for long. “We’re not angry bunch. It’s actually a celebration of the west, is what we consider, we want to celebrate what our founding fathers have built, but before anything, we want to celebrate it. We live in the best country on earth, it’s not perfect, it’s far from perfect… our prison system is all fucked up. Our immigration system is all fucked up. We just want to fix it… I feel like we have been demonized for doing that. I don’t have social media because of [the demonization]. I had to make an alt-Facebook account just to talk to my family,” Tarrio said.

Proud Boys, founded in 2016 by Canadian-British Right-wing activist Gavin McInnes, is known as a far-Right, anti-immigrant and all-male group with a history of street violence against its Left-wing opponents as reported by various media outlets. As per BBC, their members often wear black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts along with red MAGA hats.

Armed members of Proud Boys stand guard during a memorial for Patriot Prayer member Aaron Jay Danielson on September 5, 2020, in Vancouver, Washington. Danielson was shot and killed on Saturday, August 29 during a pro-Trump rally in Portland, Oregon (Getty Images)

As per The Guardian, files leaked from law enforcement documents reveal warnings about the Proud Boys. The group members are labeled as “white supremacists” and “extremists” by some agencies. The law enforcement files further show persistent concerns about the group’s menace to minority groups and even police officers, and its dissemination of dangerous conspiracy theories as indicated in The Guardian report. Further, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have all banned the group from their platforms as reported by BBC. It further reported that Proud Boys had faced off against Antifa in a number of violent clashes erupting from street rallies. These include clashes in Oregon, Washington and New York which have even led to some members of the group being arrested.

A member of Proud Boys fires a paint ball gun into a crowd of anti-police protesters as the two sides clash on August 22, 2020, in Portland, Oregon (Getty Images)

However, Tarrio has time and again denied the allegations that his group is out to silence Antifa as reported by Heavy. Tarrio said, “We don’t want to silence Antifa or anything. We want them to be able to express themselves. We want them to come protest us. That’s the joy of living in this country. You can protest anything without violence or without death threats. I get death threats constantly. I brush them off.” “I’m not hiding from anybody. I’m not masked. I don’t use an alternate name or an alternate handle… Some of our guys do have to hide their membership and they’re really not political they just come to drink beer. They have regular jobs but Antifa’s like, ‘Oh, this guy’s a Proud Boy, he must be a Nazi.’ That’s it. They go ahead and they make a PR nightmare for example, that guy who works for Comcast. He got fired from his job… (Members) have to keep (their membership) quiet. They shouldn’t have to keep it quiet.”

Members of Proud Boys clash with Black Lives Matters protesters using maces and paint ball guns on August 15, 2020, in downtown Portland, Oregon (Getty Images)

Further, Tarrio told Heavy that under his leadership the group will “not change what we do”. He added, “We’re just, basically, a group of guys that hang out and drink beer together and just have a good time. Obviously, we’re a political group but that’s secondary in nature. We just enjoy our time with our brotherhood.” Tarrio went on to say that the group would continue in the same direction by following a new set of bylaws.

These allegations were made by the Internet and individual organizations, MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) cannot confirm them independently and nor does it support these claims being made on the Internet.