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The Proud Boys continue to appear at anti-LGBTQ events


In the months leading up to the riot at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, researchers from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project noticed that the extremist group the Proud Boys had become more closely linked to the candidacy for the re-election of Donald Trump. Members of the group had increasingly appeared at rallies explicitly focused on Trump’s re-election and, post-election, rejection of his election defeat. Then, of course, members of the groups were heavily implicated in the riot itself, leading to charges of seditious conspiracy.

Since that time, the group has not been entirely silent. On Monday, ACLED shared data on a new link of Proud Boys activity: protests and events focused on LGBTQ issues.

The Proud Boys have shown up to protest drag shows in various states, for example, and have served as protesters at events focused on supporting the gay community. Sometimes these appearances turned into violence.

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ACLED shares its data publicly, including strong documentation of when and how events are included in its database. This allows us to see the progression of the Proud Boys’ involvement in LGBTQ-related activities since the inauguration of Joe Biden — and the national reach of the activity.

In the first quarter of 2021, after January 20, ACLED tracked the Proud Boys’ involvement in 20 events or protests. Only three were related to LGBTQ issues. As LGBTQ issues have become a topic of discussion in right-wing political circles (such as with the passing of a law restricting discussion of same-sex relationships in Florida schools earlier this year), the participation of Proud Boys at events focused on this goal has grown. In the second quarter of this year, a third of the group’s 40 appearances focused on or involved LGBTQ issues. In the third quarter, with the approach of the mid-term exams, more than half did.

Every American has the right to protest peacefully, of course, though Proud Boys appearances don’t always fall into that category. Rather, the group’s engagement in anti-LGBTQ activities serves as a thermometer for where the political right is exerting pressure.

In the worst situations, the presence of the extremist group foreshadows the risk or threat of violence. This is particularly worrying, given last weekend’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado.

Club Q shooting follows year of bomb scares, drag protests and anti-trans bills


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