Hands on Hartford rejects food donation from self-proclaimed members of Proud Boys

Rebecca Lurye, Hartford Courant
·2 min read

Hands on Hartford has received an outpouring of donations in the wake of the nonprofit’s decision to reject a recent food donation from self-proclaimed members of the Proud Boys, a far-right, white nationalist hate group.

Two people who identified themselves as members of Proud Boys Connecticut tried to donate food to the charity’s MANNA Community Pantry on Jan. 25, according to a news release Hands on Hartford put out Tuesday. A staff member turned the donation away due to the agency’s policy on accepting gifts, the statement said.

“We at Hands On Hartford are deeply grateful to the community for this widespread support, and we also appreciate the thoughtful dialogue that is evolving around donations made by groups like these,” executive director Barbara Shaw said.

In the three days since the incident was first reported by the Journal Inquirer, Shaw says dozens of people in Hartford and beyond have given to the social services nonprofit “in response to and in solidarity with” its decision to reject the Proud Boys donation.

The male-only, chauvinist group has disputed its hate group label from the Southern Poverty Law Center, though members commonly espouse misogyny, white supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia and trans-phobia.

During the first presidential debate in September, it was the Proud Boys that then-President Donald J. Trump was asked to condemn. Instead, he told them to “stand back and stand by.”

According to the Journal Inquirer, the Proud Boys also tried to donate a large amount of food to Enfield Food Shelf. The Middletown Press reported in December that the same group claimed it donated coats to a number of Hartford-area homeless shelters, something representatives of South Park Inn and The Open Hearth denied.

Rebecca Lurye can be reached at rlurye@courant.com.