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Proud Boys founder distancing himself from 'extremist' organization

The group's founder said he was leaving in an effort to alleviate sentencing for several Proud Boy members arrested in a New York City brawl.
Image: Gavin McInnes in 2017
Gavin McInnes speaks at event in New York City on June 10, 2017.Stephanie Keith / REUTERS, file

The founder of the "Proud Boys," a pugilistic group of self-described "western chauvinists" that has been home to racist and homophobic rhetoric, released a video Wednesday disassociating himself from the club in order to help a group of members facing serious legal trouble.

Several members of the Proud Boys were arrested following an October 12 brawl in New York after the group's founder gave a speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side.

On Wednesday, in an effort to alleviate any punishment related to the assault charges, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes announced he was leaving the group.

The move comes after internal law enforcement documents revealed Tuesday showed the FBI branded the Proud Boys an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism," though the group calls itself a club of "western chauvinists."

Image: A man wearing a Proud Boys scarf attends a rally for President Donald Trump
A man wearing a Proud Boys scarf attends a rally for President Donald Trump in Charlotte, North Carolina on Oct. 26.Sean Rayford / Getty Images

“The FBI has warned local law enforcement that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and that some in the group have contributed to the escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses,” a report from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state from July 5 stated.

McInnes, who also co-founded the now-mainstream Vice Media, denied any ties to the so-called Alt-Right in his video, and claimed his legal team advised him to make a statement to help keep the arrested Proud Boys out of jail.

He also encouraged viewers to donate to the men's legal defense funds through a website that sold "Proud Boy" bracelets.

"I do all this reluctantly because I still see this as the greatest fraternal organization in the world but rumors and lies and terrible journalism has made its way to the court system," McInnes said in a video released to his YouTube account.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that tracks hate groups, classifies the Proud Boys' idealogy as "general hate." SPLC also details McInness' history of sexist, Islamophobic and transphobic rhetoric, which he dismissed Wednesday as political satire taken out of context.

"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," SPLC states on its website. "They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric."