Stand Up. Stand Beside.
Last night, Donald Trump was asked if he would condemn white supremacy and call on hate groups like the “Proud Boys” to stand down. He responded with these words: “Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” Stand back and stand by. When asked to condemn white supremacy, the President of the United States told a violent extremist group to “Stand by”, and they heard him loud and clear. Immediately following the comment by the President, “Proud Boy” organizer Joe Biggs declared “Trump basically said to go fuck them up! This makes me so happy.” A few minutes later, Biggs added “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA...well sir we’re ready!!” What the President said wasn’t just a dog whistle. It was a bullhorn, and the white nationalist gangs heard him loud and clear. But perhaps you’re thinking to yourself that this isn’t a Central Oregon problem? Maybe you think that Proud Boys are a Portland issue and that we don’t need to worry about things like that here in Bend and Central Oregon. We’re sorry to tell you how incorrect that is.
Joseph Robert Alexander is a known Proud Boy who lives in Prineville. He hosts recruiting events and shows up armed to counter protest Black Lives Matter events.
Joey’s friend Coby Black Mudgett is another Prineville resident who has tried to incite violence at several peaceful protests.
Kyle Wayne Zollman has the word “Proud Boy” tattooed inside his left arm, and he attacked a man walking with a cane at one Prineville protest.
Kyle’s good friend Bart Lewis is a known white supremacist who proudly poses for pictures wearing Nazi SS lightning bolts.
And ALL of these people, in one way or another, have connections to our old friend Jerrad Robison, the leader of the “Oregon Zone 5 Three Percent”, a nationalist gang based in Central Oregon. The ranks of Jerrad’s gang are filled with violent felons, including one member arrested (but never actually charged) with First Degree Rape.
Jerrad has sworn in the past that he isn’t a racist and has nothing to do with the Proud Boys. Any doubt as to his affiliation with them was dispelled when he attended last week’s Proud Boy rally in Portland. He posted pictures of himself in attendance, and a video of PB flags being reverently raised alongside the American flag while the anthem played. Jerrad Robison may not be an official Proud Boy, but he and his gang have made it clear that they’ve allied themselves. Much like the way smaller, tertiary terrorist groups in the middle east swear allegiance to more influential groups like ISIS. Jerrad Robison and the Oregon Zone 5 Three Percent have sworn Bay’at to the Proud Boys.
So that’s what we know.
The President has given marching orders to violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys. We know that Proud Boys and PB subservient chapters like the Oregon Zone 5 Three Percent gangs are present and active in Central Oregon. We know that things will get worse before they get better, particularly as we get close to the election, and probably beyond that into January at least.
So what do we do about it?
The answer is simple. That’s not to say it will be easy, but it is simple. When Trump calls on the white supremacists to “Stand back and stand by” or response has to be to “STAND UP AND STAND BESIDE!”
They want us to be afraid. These men are sad little would be bullies who think that they can get their way with violence and intimidation. Prove them wrong! Stand up. Let them know that our Peace is stronger than their hate. Show them that our Love will always win against their violence. Get involved. Call your local, state, and federal elected officials and demand that they condemn white supremacists in general, and the Proud Boys in particular. Make sure you are registered to vote, and go out and make sure everyone else you know is too. None of this weak sauce about “register three friends”. That’s not good enough. Register EVERYONE you know. Volunteer to help people deliver their ballots safely.
Most of all, get ready to lace up your most comfortable protest shoes, and show up.
We’re living through history, and it’s up to you what the history books say about this time. The books may talk about a time when people gave up and let the violent extremists have their way. This time may be remembered as the failure of the American experiment and the rise of Trumpian fascism.
But it doesn’t have to be.
It’s up to you.