- The Washington Times
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Proud Boys, the group President Trump instructed from the debate stage to “stand back and stand by,” has been swamped with potential new prospects in the weeks since, its leader said Wednesday.

Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio said on the social media service Parler that he has personally heard from hundreds of applicants wanting to join his group since Mr. Trump mentioned it on Sept. 29.

Mr. Tarrio, a Trump supporter who briefly ran as a Republican in a recent Florida congressional race, said the Proud Boys accordingly slowed down its vetting process because of the apparent surge.

Formed in 2016, the Proud Boys was recently propelled into the spotlight when the group was cited during the first of two debates held between Mr. Trump and Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Trump was pressed during the debate to explicitly condemn violent right-wing groups. He replied by asking for a specific name, prompting Mr. Biden to call on him to condemn the Proud Boys.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Mr. Trump said during the debate.
Nearly two months later, Mr. Tarrio posted on Parler that hundreds of wannabe Proud Boys have subsequently requested to join its ranks in the weeks since Mr. Trump appealed to its members.

“After our mention on the debate stage we have been swamped with new prospects,” he posted. “I currently have over 750 applications in south Florida alone. We have processed only a portion of those.”

“We have slowed down vetting because we are being extra careful on who we let in,” Mr. Tarrio added. “If we let everyone in at once it has the potential to change the culture within our club. It’s quality over quantity. We have done so much with such a small group that we are not in a rush to increase our numbers. We will go through each application thoroughly.”

Posting on Parler earlier this month after the presidential race was called for Mr. Biden, Mr. Tarrio said he was rescinding the “stand by” order Mr. Trump issued from the debate stage weeks before.

Mr. Tarrio and Proud Boys from across the country have since participated in pro-Trump demonstrations held recently in Washington, D.C., which ultimately turned violent and led to several arrests.

He separately posted Wednesday on Parler a video montage showing various clips of uniformed Proud Boys fighting in public.

Mr. Tarrio briefly ran this year in the race to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District but ultimately withdrew.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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