The Proud Boys: recapping the presidential debate


Stephen D. Melkisethian is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This photo was taken at the Defend D.C. Against Facism Rally 4. The Proud Boys was a group seen, among others, in attendance of this event.

When Donald Trump was not interrupting Biden or ignoring questions during the first debate, he spent his time avoiding the denunciation of white supremacist groups. Trump told the all-male far-right hate group, The Proud Boys, to “Stand back and stand by,” when he was asked to condemn their actions and the actions of other supremacist groups. He followed up with the statement “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about ANTIFA and the left.” The Proud Boys have taken this as support for their group and have even added the quote to their logo and flooded their social media accounts with talks of the debate and what Trump’s statement means for them. Some believe that this was Trump’s way of asking for their help against his opposers.


The Proud Boys are known for their violent protests and being openly racist, sexist, misogynistic and so on. Their founder, Gavin McInnes, has claimed in the past that white men are “under siege” and is openly islamophobic stating “Muslims are stupid … the only thing they really respect is violence and being tough.” Although the group has claimed they’ve distanced themselves from McInnes since he left in 2008, it does not change the fact that the group was founded based on his beliefs.


Donald Trump on stage for debate. The event was held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. (Gage Skidmore)

For The Proud Boys, this debate has become something to celebrate and has given them a sense of pride in their beliefs. There was a rally of around 200 people held in Portland, Oregon to celebrate Trump shortly after the debate. Many of his supporters were armed with weapons, and although the attendance numbers were small compared to what they were hoping for, the group’s confidence remained unphased. The organizer of the Proud Boys, Joe Biggs, posted the following, “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!”


Since the debate, President Trump has been called out many times for what occurred and is yet to take back what he said. He recently stated, “Let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.(sic)”