A man was captured on video donning a swastika mask at the MAGA rally held in support of President Donald Trump in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. The November 21 rally was held across from Mayfair Mall one day after a mass shooting left eight people wounded at the popular shopping center in Milwaukee County.
The identity of the man with the swastika mask is not clear; he was standing with a group of Proud Boys, who said they were providing “security” for the rally, as they were confronted by Milwaukee Black Lives Matter activist Vaun Mayes. See Mayes’ YouTube channel here; Mayes recorded the video of the man with the swastika mask. The Proud Boys disavow him in the video when he puts on the mask, telling him to take it off, which he does. You can see the moment the man puts on the swastika mask at about 5:30 in the video below.
“We don’t agree with that f****** b*******,” says one member of the Proud Boys group after the man puts on the mask. Another man in the group calls the mask-wearing man a “knucklehead,” and a third says, “We’re not f****** racist. We aren’t f****** Nazis.”
Mayes responds, “These type of mother f****** are standing here with you all. He put on a damn swastika mask.”
The video starts with Mayes demanding to know where former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is; Clarke spoke at the rally, which police said drew 500 to 600 people to the streets outside Mayfair. One man in the video wears a cowboy hat that reads Trump 2020, and other men wear masks stamped with the words “Proud Boys.”
On Sunday, police announced they had arrested a 15-year-old Hispanic Milwaukee male in connection with the mass shooting. The mass shooting had no link to the rally, which was scheduled before the shooting occurred. Police said they don’t think the shooting was a random act but stemmed from an “altercation.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Mayes & the Proud Boys Debated Racism Before the Man Pulled Out the Mask
The beginning of Mayes’ video shows him confronting the Proud Boys group about racism. He’s one of Milwaukee’s most prominent BLM leaders; he’s also out on pretrial release on federal charges for his alleged role in a 2016 plot to firebomb a police precinct in Milwaukee.
“This is some foolish s***,” he says.
“You’re the one being racist,” people tell Mayes.
“… You all aren’t going to do s***. I’m not scared of you all,” Mayes says. “Welcome to Milwaukee, America mother f*****.”
He tells the Proud Boys they should “go back where the f*** you all came from.” A man responds, “Milwaukee Proud Boys are here, idiot.”
“Blacks are racist,” a man says.
“Welcome to Milwaukee mother f*****,” says Mayes.
The man isn’t wearing the swastika mask at first, but he pulls it out and puts it on in the middle of this argument.
Mayes then says: “These are the type of people you have standing with you all. Anti-racism, are you kidding me? Get the f*** out of here.”
The Proud Boys Said They Were There as Security
Heavy was covering the rally and a Proud Boys member told us the group was there to provide “security.” Some of the Proud Boys, who made their affiliation openly known on their shirts, masks and hats, were open-carrying large guns, which is legal in Wisconsin with some exceptions, as were other people on the pro-Trump side.
A contingent of Black Lives Matter protesters was also at the scene.
There was one arrest for disorderly conduct, according to Wauwatosa police; they didn’t provide more details. Heavy asked them about the veracity of a conservative news site story alleging that a car driven by a Joe Biden supporter hit Trump supporters and Proud Boys gave aid. Police spokesperson Abby Pavlik said in an email, “There was an injury crash at Mayfair/North around 10:57a. Two pedestrians sustained minor injuries and the vehicle involved fled the scene. Our Crash Unit is investigating the incident.” Heavy asked for more details, including whether it was intentional or politically motivated, and will update the story if more information is received.
“We’re from everywhere,” one of the Proud Boys said as a woman with a pink “Women for Trump” sign gushed praise. “Wow, you guys are awesome,” she said. “We were requested to provide security make sure everyone got safe,” the man said.
Some people expressed disgust on social media, however. The photo below shows Proud Boys using the OK hand symbol, which has become associated with white supremacy.
Remy del Toro, one of the Proud Boys members, said: “We’re patriots. We f****** love America, love drinking beer. We heard there were going to be a lot of patriots showing up.” He said about 200 Proud Boys came to keep the environment “safe” and noted that Black Lives Matter was there.
The Proud Boys Have Been Characterized as Extremist, a Label They Dispute
The Proud Boys have been characterized as an extremist group by organizations that monitor hate groups; they’ve disputed that descriptor.
The Proud Boys website says, in part, “The basic tenet of the group is that we are ‘Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.’ Like Archie Bunker, we long for the days when ‘girls were girls and men were men.’ This wasn’t controversial even twenty years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953.” It’s a men’s-only group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center labels the Proud Boys extremists, which is a label they disavow. “Their 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,” according to the SPLC. “They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.”
SPLC’s descriptions of the Proud Boys have been disputed by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, who filed a lawsuit against SPLC, according to the Anti-Defamation League. It was dismissed. “The Proud Boys represent an unconventional strain of American right-wing extremism. While the group can be described as violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic, its members represent a range of ethnic backgrounds, and its leaders vehemently protest any allegations of racism,” according to the ADL.
During a debate with Biden, Trump controversially told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” before claiming he didn’t know who they were.
At the height of the pro-Trump rally, according to Wauwatosa police, as many as 600 people lined the streets across from Mayfair. Police said an altercation sparked the mall shootings and that they weren’t random, but they haven’t been more specific. The rally was planned before the shooting, and it took place across from the mall parking lot, which was barricaded off, preventing vehicle entry.
Here’s more video from earlier in the rally.
At one point, Clarke was “escorted” by Proud Boys at the rally, according to this Twitter user.
“We appreciate that a majority of the group stayed on the sidewalk which allowed traffic to move through the area. The Wauwatosa Police Department continues to support the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble,” police wrote.