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Jeff Bryant reports on a frightening phenomenon: the notorious and violent Proud Boys are targeting public schools.
When violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, some of the rioters were members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group prone to street brawling and pro-Western, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic rhetoric.
The insurrectionists were thwarted, but now extremist groups—including the Proud Boys—are aiming their threats and violence at a new target: public schools.
In Orange County, North Carolina, the Proud Boys and other white nationalist groups have begun showing up at high school football games and school board meetings, “protesting the district’s COVID-19 and LGBTQ+ policies.” Their intimidating language, apparel, and physical gestures prompted officials to hire extra security and pass a resolution opposing “incidents of hostile and racist behavior,” according to a report in the News and Observer.
The resolution charged that the rightwing agitators had “shouted racist and homophobic slurs at students” and included “emails from teachers and students who describe how unsafe they feel being around the Proud Boys.”
A local radio station quoted Orange County board chairwoman Hillary MacKenzie describing a recent meeting of the board where “there were two men in Proud Boys shirts and hats . . . one wore a stocking over his face . . . the other one told our board during public comment that someone should tie rocks around our necks, and we should throw ourselves in a river.”
Similar occurrences from around the country seem to indicate that the Proud Boys’ targeting of public schools is a coordinated, nationwide effort, suggesting a direct line from the group’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection to its current participation in the wave of protests at public schools and school board meetings.