A female deputy in Clark County, Washington, was fired after a photograph of her wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a “Proud Boys” logo surfaced on social media:
Washington state deputy fired from job for proudly wearing a sweatshirt with a far-right hate-group logo on it https://t.co/n0AJmE07LT
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) July 22, 2018
The Proud Boys is a right-wing group founded by actor/writer/comedian Gavin McInnes that describes its members as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” Proud Boys frequently show up at protests and rallies nationwide to counteract violent left-wing groups like Antifa:
Our group is and will always be MEN ONLY (born with a penis if that wasn’t clear enough for you leftists)! If you are (and were born) a woman and you would like to be involved, there is a girls group. They call themselves Proud Boys’ Girls and they’re our second-biggest demographic.”
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office initially placed Deputy Erin Willey on leave pending an internal investigation after a local newspaper, The Columbian, shared a photograph of Willey wearing “a hooded sweatshirt with a logo showing a switchblade, lipstick and an abbreviation for Proud Boys’ Girls” with the sheriff’s office. Willey was hired in May of 2017 and was let go on July 17 following the Columbian‘s report.
The sheriff’s department did not specify the reasoning behind Willey’s firing, but according to the Columbian, it was because of the photo:
— Good Causes in SW WA (@GOODinSWW) July 20, 2018
Willey is also shown in a second photograph shared on a Proud Boys-affiliated Twitter page, which included her contact information for buying Proud Boys’ Girls merchandise.
Clark County Undersheriff Mike Cooke declined to speak in more detail on the investigation or Willey’s termination, saying it’s a personnel matter.
Willey did not return requests for comment.
In a statement, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said:
Law enforcement officers are peacekeepers whose core mission is to protect and safeguard the community. My expectation is that my employees do not engage in activities or associations that undermine or diminish our role as peacekeepers.
There seems to be a grey area for Clark County officers regarding their free speech rights. Included in the Clark County Sheriff’s Office’s Code of Ethics is an expectation that officers “will keep [their] private [lives] unsullied as an example to all,” but it’s not clear how Willey’s association with the Proud Boys “sullies” her private life or diminishes her role as a peacekeeper.
On their website, the Proud Boys clearly disavow white nationalists.
They say they “confuse the media because the group is anti-SJW without being alt-right. ‘Western chauvinist’ includes all races, religions, and sexual preferences.” Besides the United States, there are Proud Boys chapters in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) smears the Proud Boys as “a hate group,” alleging that its members’ “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.” News outlets like The Columbian and Daily Mail U.S. cited the SPLC as a reliable source in their stories about the firing. However, many Americans consider the SPLC to be an unreliable far-left, extremist hate group itself. The SPLC has placed respectable conservatives like Dr. Ben Carson (currently President Trump’s HUD secretary), on its Extremist Watch List, only removing him from the list when a major media backlash ensued. The SPLC is also infamous for inspiring a domestic terrorist attack against a Christian organization in August of 2012.
About 60 organizations are currently considering lawsuits against the SPLC, PJ Media reported last week.
McGinnes threatened to sue the Daily Mail U.S. for publishing what he characterized as “lies” and “Fake News” based on the SPLC’s smears:
In their reports, The Columbian and Daily Mail claim that Proud Boys members joined the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, last August, where a right-wing activist killed a left-wing activist after ramming his vehicle through a group of counter-protesters. They also point out that rally organizer, Jason Kessler, “was once part of the group.”
Not mentioned, however, is the fact that Proud Boys officially disavowed the Unite the Right rally in June 2017, long before it occurred:
The truth is, we don’t need white supremacists in Proud Boys. We are western chauvinists, not racists, and welcome anyone who agrees with that. We don’t give a shit what the color of your skin is, but nearly all of the speakers at this event can’t seem to do anything but talk about skin color. I understand that antifa and the rest of the radical left will continue to call Proud Boys racist. That doesn’t mean we should become racists, or share a stage with racists.
McInnes is a co-founder of Vice Media, the host of The Gavin McInnes Show on Compound Media, and a contributor for The Rebel Media and Taki’s Magazine. He has also been a frequent guest on Fox News. He founded the Proud Boys in 2016: