Members of Proud Boys show up at political rally on the Matlacha Bridge
For the past five weeks, members of ROAR (Rise up, Organize, Agitate and Resist) have held rallies on the Matlacha Bridge in support of the Biden/Harris presidential ticket. This week, a group claiming to be members of the Proud Boys, a reported all-male adult fraternity, also came to the Oct. 24 rally to show their support of the Trump/Pence campaign.
“What we are seeing is a group of about a dozen men — they have no women with them,” said founding ROAR member Susan McGuire Saturday, “and most of them have on shirts that say Proud Boy. They’re carrying flags, posters — some of their posters say Donald Trump is a Proud Boy. They’re marching back and forth screaming across the bridge.”
According to McGuire, the shouting coupled with the accusation that Biden supporters are Communists was a common theme among the group.
“They’re really loud with that kind of in-your-face hostility. Exactly the opposite of what we’re doing here,” said McGuire, who claims ROAR has a policy of non-engagement with opposition groups.
While McGuire said they are only there to wave signs in peaceful support, she feels the Proud Boys are trying to change the dialogue.
“They’re trying to change the feeling of what the rally is,” McGuire said. “They’re very loud … and their language is horrible.”
Proud Boy member Shane Thryde said the objective for the group was simply to show support for President Trump.
“This is nothing more than support for our president,” Thryde said. “He’s their president, too, they just don’t realize it.”
Thryde said the Proud Boys are not in reality representative of the reputation given them online and in the media.
“We’re a male fraternity — a drinking club, with a political problem,” Thryde said. “The only two things we don’t like are communism and warm beer…and we’ll drink warm beer.”
The FBI classifies the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white supremacy, but members of the organization have assumed a higher profile recently in disputing that characterization.
Thryde, who said he’s been a Proud Boy member for roughly a year, denies allegations that the Proud Boys have any affiliation with the KKK, or any other white supremist groups.
“They call us Nazis, and a hate-group — all kinds of things, but we’re just proud Americans,” said Thryde.
(Editor’s note: A clarification about the Proud Boys group has been added to this online version of the Matlacha Bridge rally story and the clarification will be included in next week’s print edition of The Eagle.)