Gottheimer, Malinowski Urge FBI to Counter ‘Proud Boys’ Presence in New Jersey

October 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
Members of the Proud Boys, including leader Enrique Tarrio, second from left, gesture and cheer on stage as they and other right-wing demonstrators rally in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON – Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Tom Malinowski are urging the FBI to step up the federal response to the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group they say has increased its activity in New Jersey.

According to a recent report from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the threat posed by white supremacists rose from “moderate” to “high” in 2020.

The Proud Boys have been classified as a hate group by civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

“While the FBI ‘does not police ideology,’ we believe the clear threat and pattern of violence demonstrated by members of groups like the Proud Boys merits increased scrutiny by the Bureau to protect public safety,” Gottheimer and Malinowski wrote in a joint letter to the agency.

“This is abundantly necessary as these groups increasingly seek to organize and instigate violence,” the congressmen said. “We are also concerned that members of the Proud Boys or other unlawful militias or private paramilitary organizations may plan to target and disrupt rallies, polling places, or voter registration drives in the coming months.”

 Gottheimer and Malinowski went on to ask:

  • Does the FBI currently consider violent extremist groups with ties to white nationalism like the Proud Boys to be a significant threat?
  • Is the FBI concerned by violence at rallies organized by these groups across jurisdictions, including in Portland, Seattle, New York, and other cities? 
  • Has the FBI taken steps to disseminate critical information about the threats of violent extremism to law enforcement partners in New Jersey and around the country, via intelligence bulletins, Field Intelligence Groups, Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or other groups or memoranda?
  • What authority does the FBI have, if any, to address instances in which individuals gather in public places under the guise of an armed militia, wearing military-style weapons and uniforms to intimidate members of the public?
  • What is the FBI’s strategy to protect Americans from a surge in violent extremism and an uptick of attacks from individuals associated with these groups in the coming months? 

“We believe we need a much more robust Federal response to the growing threat of violence posed by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, domestic terrorists, and other militias,” the letter said.

In addition to Gottheimer and Malinowski, the letter was signed by Reps. Donald Norcross, Andy Kim, Frank Pallone, Jr., Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Mikie Sherrill, and Bonnie Watson Coleman, all Democrats serving New Jersey. 

A copy of the letter is available HERE.

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