Trump supporters — including Proud Boys — plan Million MAGA March in Washington

Andrew Boryga, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Conservatives will travel from South Florida to Washington, D.C., on Saturday to back President Donald Trump’s quest to prove Democrats stole the election from him through fraud.

A march will include about 250 members of the right-wing Proud Boys group from around the country, and promoters include the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida, with nine chapters around the state.

Enrique Tarrio, the Miami-based chairman of the Proud Boys, spoke about the plans to the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Thursday and also rebutted claims of a leadership coup within his organization.

Tarrio said he is concerned that vote counting during the election was not transparent and that the number of voters in states like Wisconsin seemed exceptionally high. He stopped short of saying that votes for Joe Biden were manufactured, however.

Trump has not. He claims that votes materialized out of nowhere and cost him battleground states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He has produced no evidence of systemic fraud, however, and courts have already tossed many of the lawsuits his camp has filed.

Abraham Lopez, a national committeeman for the National Hispanic Assembly, said more than a dozen Trump-supporting groups are behind the rally, which has been called by various names: the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump or March for 45.

“We don’t care what you call it, as long as everyone is down in Washington at 12 noon,” Lopez said.

Lopez said leaders from many of the group’s chapters in Florida were flying to the nation’s capital Thursday and Friday.

Other groups planning demonstrations include March for Trump, Stop the Steal, and Women for America First, as well as more disparate groups like Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Infowars.com and Groypers.

Estimates of the expected crowd in Washington have been vague, since none of the groups are coordinating their plans. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters she expected the march to be “quite large.”

Opponents see the march, from Freedom Plaza to the steps of the Supreme Court, as a desperate stunt to prolong Trump’s rule.

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a progressive, left-wing group that monitors conservative media, was quoted by Politico as saying: “It is solely designed to create disruption, and possibly chaos. It’s basically a giant online comment troll come into life."

Lopez said many members of the National Hispanic Assembly are concerned about voting irregularities that have thus far been debunked by elections officials in various states.

“Our message is that every legal ballot should be counted and every illegal ballot should not be counted,” he said. “Nothing more and nothing less.”

He said his organization also supports Trump in pursuing legal options before conceding defeat to Joe Biden. Many people who are comfortable with Facebook and Twitter fact-checking online content are not comfortable with members of the U.S. government fact-checking an election, he said.

Tarrio said that if Biden is named the winner after everything is said and done, he will accept it.

“There is nothing I can do,” he said. “I didn’t do enough, or grassroots groups didn’t do enough, or Trump didn’t do enough.”

He credited Biden with inadvertently boosting the Proud Boys’ profile when he challenged Trump to denounce the group during a debate. Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

“I’m super thankful of Joe Biden,” Tarrio said. “If he becomes the president, the best thing that he has done is promote my organization.”

Reacting to the reported Proud Boys coup, Tarrio said the man who claimed to have ousted him as chairman is not even a member.

“In order to have a coup, you have to be part of the organization to establish the coup,” he said.

Kyle Chapman claimed to have taken over the Proud Boys to lead it in a white supremacist and anti-Semitic direction. Though the Proud Boys are labeled as a “hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tarrio denies they espouse white supremacist views.

Chapman, he said, was only briefly affiliated with the Proud Boys in 2017. He left the organization the same year to start “his own thing.” Tarrio said. Chapman reappeared a month ago in an attempt to rejoin the Proud Boys' ranks, but his membership was denied, Tarrio said.

“I think that is where his anger came from,” he said.

On Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, Chapman has penned numerous screeds attacking Tarrio’s leadership. On Nov. 9, he shared a message stating that the group would be known as the “Proud Goys." Goy refers to a Jewish term for non-Jews that has been used by some to symbolize their anti-Semitism.

Chapman also said the group would no longer allow Black or gay members into its ranks.

“We recognize that the West was built by the White Race alone and we owe nothing to any other race,” Chapman, who goes by the handle “AltKnight” on Telegram, wrote.

Tarrio said Chapman’s remarks do not reflect the members of his organization. He also said the Proud Boys have diverse members in chapters across the country.

“I live in South Florida,” said Tarrio, who is Cuban. “Most of my members are Cuban and Jewish. The minority is white.”

The group has also been criticized for street violence and members in the past have been arrested for brawling with counter-protesters at events. Tarrio said the Proud Boys don’t shy from defending themselves.

“Self-defense itself is violent,” he said. “And that is something we’re really good at, and I think we’ve proven it again and again.”

Andrew Boryga can be reached at 954-356-4533 or aboryga@sunsentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @borywrites.

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