Enrique Tarrio has succeeded Gavin McInnes as the leader of the Proud Boys. Tarrio, 34, confirmed his ascension to the top of the Proud Boy ranks in an interview with Heavy.com. The new leader said, “Yes, I am the new chairman of the Proud Boys International.” Tarrio described his election to the role saying, “Basically, how the process works is since our organization has a very loose structure, chapter autonomy is big for us, so basically we have the presidents and vice presidents of a respective chapter and they go ahead and vote in what we’ve always had is a membership of eight elder and those eight elders go ahead and elect the chairman.”
On November 21, Gavin McInnes, the founder of the group, resigned from the Proud Boys. McInnes said in a YouTube video, “As of today… I am officially disassociating myself from the Proud Boys.” McInnes went on to say that his leaving in the group was in part due to who he, and Tarrio, referred to as the “New York Nine.” Nine associates of the Proud Boys were involved in a brawl with Antifa activists outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City on October 12. McInnes said in his video resignation, “I am told my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture could help alleviate their sentencing. Fine, at the very least this will show jurors they are not dealing with a gang and there is no head of operations.” On the same day as McInnes’ resignation, Milo Yiannopoulos, also announced he was leaving the group.
Here’s what you need to know about the Proud Boys’ new leader:
1. Tarrio Believes the ‘NYC 9’ Acted in Self-Defense
Tarrio told Heavy that he believes the “New York City 9” acted in “self-defense.” Tarrio said, “It’s clearly, if you look at the video, anybody who looks at the video, it’s clearly in self-defense. It was done right before mid-terms. We believe like political pawns, per se.” Tarrio went on to say that the group are not being represented by Jason Lee Van Dyke, who had previously acted as the group’s counsel. Van Dyke had briefly served as chairman, Tarrio said that he had been in place “temporarily” to aid in the election of a permanent chairman and to help to write the group’s by-laws. Van Dyke has “stepped away” from the group, Tarrio said.
2. Tarrio Said the Proud Boys ‘Will Not Change What We Do’
Tarrio told Heavy that under his leadership the group will “not change what we do.” He adds, “We’re just, basically, a group of guys that hang out and drink beer together and just have a good time. Obviously, we’re a political group but that’s secondary in nature. We just enjoy our time with our brotherhood.” Tarrio went on to say that the group would continue in the same direction by following a new set of by-laws.
3. Tarrio Says the Group’s Masturbation Law Is ‘Some Type of Joke’ That Could Be a Way of Bringing the Left & Right Together
Tarrio says that the Proud Boys’ “anti-masturbation thing,” a law that says members can only masturbate once a month and not view pornography, is “some type of joke.” Tarrio said, “This anti-masturbation thing, there’s a whole bunch of rituals that we have that are all set off in comedy, here I’m gonna speak from my personal accord… the only way we could bring the left and the right together, there’s only one thing that brings us together and that’s comedy. Let’s me and you are at a bar, and me and you have differing points of views on politics, do you think that we’re gonna change each other’s minds by going ahead and arguing what I consider to be facts and what you consider to be facts? We’re not gonna get anywhere with that. The only way that we can go ahead and, kind of like, bond with each other, is if we don’t take ourselves seriously and we make fun of each other or make fun of ourselves.” Tarrio said that among the group, they “roast each other all the time.”
4. Tarrio Was Raised in a Cuban Family in Little Havana
Tarrio was raised in a Cuban family in Little Havana in Miami. Tarrio said he was “lured” to the Proud Boys because it was a similar atmosphere to the home where he grew up. “My house, at like 7 o’clock in the morning, there’s like 20 people, in my house, talking about politics, roasting each other, just making fun of each other. I was brought up in that environment, so that kind of brings me into the fuckery that comes along with being a Proud Boy,” Tarrio says. “We’re not angry bunch. It’s actually a celebration of the west, is what we consider, we want to celebrate what our founding fathers have built, but before anything, we want to celebrate it. We live in the best country on earth, it’s not perfect, it’s far from perfect… our prison system is all fucked up. Our immigration system is all fucked up. We just want to fix it… I feel like we have been demonized for doing that. I don’t have social media because of [the demonization]. I had to make an alt-Facebook account just to talk to my family,” Tarrio said.
5. Tarrio Says: ‘We Don’t Want to Silence Antifa’
Tarrio denied any allegations that his group is out to silence Antifa. Tarrio said, “We don’t want to silence Antifa or anything. We want them to be able to express themselves. We want them to come protest us. That’s the joy of living in this country. You can protest anything without violence or without death threats. I get death threats constantly. I brush them off.” Tarrio says, “I’m not hiding from anybody. I’m not masked. I don’t use an alternate name or an alternate handle… Some of our guys do have to hide their membership and they’re really not political they just come to drink beer. They have regular jobs but Antifa’s like, ‘Oh, this guy’s a Proud Boy, he must be a Nazi.’ That’s it. They go ahead and they make a PR nightmare for example, that guy who works for Comcast. He got fired from his job… [Members] have to keep [their membership] quiet. They shouldn’t have to keep it quiet.” Earlier in November 2018, Andrew Kovalic, a 10-year employee of Comcast, was fired from his job after he was revealed to be a member of the Proud Boys. Philly Mag reports that a petition started by the Media Mobilizing Project helped to lead to his firing.