The New Zealand government has classified the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, citing the group’s involvement in the security breach at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Proud Boys are an America-based men’s organization associated with right-wing political ideology which the government of New Zealand says is a “cult of the warrior and hyper-masculinity” known for its “veneration of Donald Trump.”
The New Zealand Police released a 29-page document on July 1 that builds a case as to why the American organization – referred to as the American Proud Boys or the APB – met the description of a terrorist entity as established in the nation’s Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002.
The island nation considers a terrorist organization one whose actions are “carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause,” intended to “intimidate a population” or “cause the death of, or serious bodily injury to, one or more persons,” per NPR.
The police argue that “the entity has knowingly carried out, or has knowingly participated in the carrying out of, one or more terrorist acts” and cited “open or unclassified sources” to build its case.
Sources include the Anti-Discrimination League and the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as Buzzfeed News, Vox, Oregon Public Broadcasting, VICE News, and HuffPost.
“The APB see themselves as defending an idealised perception of ‘The West’ and ‘Western’ values, but are in practice railing against liberal values and the diversification of US society and the political classes,” the document states.
The document details the characteristics of the group, including listing reported strategies used by the Proud Boys to spread its ideology: “The APB deliberately deploy a tactic called crypto-fascism. This tactic overlays methods to disguise extremism and increase the appeal of a group to ‘mainstream’ or ‘normal’ people, and to prevent unwanted attention from authorities.”
The New Zealand Police offer the group’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio who is Afro-Cuban, as an example of this tactic.
“Having a non-white Chairman is commonly used by the APB as a foil against accusations of white supremacy,” the organization states.
The New Zealand government also argued that “the APB do not have a single ideological framework or reference point” so that it can “obscure the group’s fascism and thereby increase their appeal to a broader audience of American men.”
The police also contend there are unofficial affiliate chapters of the Proud Boys operating in Canada and Australia.
According to AP News, the Proud Boys is not “known to be active in New Zealand, although the South Pacific nation has become more attuned to threats from the far right after a white supremacist shot and killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019.”
New Zealand authorities specifically accused the Proud Boys of coordinating attacks on law enforcement and rallying crowds in Washington DC on Jan. 6 with the explicit intention of breaking into the Capitol.
Canada designated the Proud Boys a terrorist organization in February of 2021 and said its members are “ideologically motivated violent extremists.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement at the time that the Proud Boys “absolutely” posed an imminent threat to national security.
“It is deeply concerning. There’s been an escalation, not only in rhetoric, but security and planning,” Blair said, per CBC. “Countering this group has become an important priority for the government of Canada.”
The Proud Boys describe themselves as western chauvinists and have rejected accusations of white nationalism or white supremacy. The group was formed by VICE magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016.
The Proud Boys and an alleged neo-Nazi organization known as The Base are now part of New Zealand’s 18 organization terrorist list which includes the Islamic State. Under national law, it is illegal to participate in, fund, or recruit for any organization considered to be a terrorist entity.