In a year full of surprises it’s now been revealed that the leader of the Proud Boys is Enrique Tarrio, the Florida state director of Latinos for Trump who also ran for Congress as a Republican, the Daily Mail has revealed. The Proud Boys were established during the 2016 presidential election by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes and have been connected with white supremacy and classified as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’re self-described “western chauvinists” and operate with an agenda that’s against political correctness and white guilt.
‘We are not a white-power group, and I am not a victim,” Enrique Tarrio told the Miami New Times. “I just think I should be able to say what I want and to express my support of Trump without being called a Nazi.” He also told the reporter that the criticism of the group was “political bulls**t.” During the interview, he admitted to attending the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville led by white nationalist Richard Spencer, while also claiming that he left before violence erupted.
Tarrio is a 36-year-old Cuban-American from Miami who was originally president of the city’s Proud Boys chapter before being promoted to the group’s national chairman in 2018. He’s has been pictured with Proud Boys member and Trump confidant Roger Stone, the president’s son Don Jr, and GOP Senator Ted Cruz. In a selfie he posted with Donald Trump Jr. he included the caption: “Blurry but at least we spoke about the rampant censorship of conservatives.”
Ted Cruz co-sponsored a Senate resolution based on a petition written by Tarrio to designate the anti-fascist coalition known as Antifa as a ‘domestic terrorist organization’. The publication reports Tarrio runs a security equipment firm and claims the Proud Boys has a “similar atmosphere” to his Cuban upbringing. In 2018, he described his Miami chapter as “a frat with a political lean” telling the Miami New Times that his parents became conservative after fleeing Cuba during Fidel Castro’s dictatorship.
Enrique Tarrio has previously been banned from Twitter for breaking the site’s rules on ‘violent extremist groups.’ He slammed the social media platform for the decision saying he denounces hate and racism. He ran as a Republican to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District this year but withdrew before the party’s primary in August, saying he wrote slurs as a joke in an effort to promote free speech.
A spokesman for Tarrio released a statement Wednesday saying the Proud Boys has “longstanding regulations prohibiting racist, white supremacist or violent activity” adding that “we do not care what color you are or what your background is … if you love America … we consider you a brother.”
Tarrio also told NBC Miami that Trump’s reference to the Proud Boys during the debate wasn’t an endorsement: “He didn’t condemn us. He didn’t promote us either. What ‘stand by’ means is stand by me.”