While the Proud Boys’ membership isn’t public, Mr. Holt mentioned the group gave the impression to be rising in small cities and counties.
Often, their presence has been sufficient to disrupt occasions. Last month, the college board in Beloit, Wis., mentioned it canceled lessons as a result of a few of the Proud Boys had been at an area protest over masks necessities. In Orange County, Calif., the college board mentioned in September that it might set up steel detectors and rent additional safety after a number of Proud Boys attended a gathering and threatened its members.
In New Hanover County, N.C., which has roughly 220,000 individuals and is 2 hours north of Charlotte, Stefanie Adams, the college board president, mentioned she had learn concerning the group’s rising appearances and started monitoring the experiences intently.
Ms. Adams mentioned she had an inkling that the Proud Boys would possibly present up in her faculty district, which has 25,000 college students. Because North Carolina regulation requires the county faculty board to vote on whether or not to proceed a masks mandate for college students every month, the district had dealt with many contentious conferences over the problem, she mentioned.
“I figured we were on their radar, and that we might be next,” Ms. Adams mentioned. “We knew we had to prepare for them coming to our town, too.”
Last month, Ms. Adams was notified by the board’s head of safety, which she had employed for the month-to-month conferences, that some Proud Boys had been outdoors the constructing for the masks mandate vote.
Five Proud Boys ultimately entered the room and stood within the again, Ms. Adams mentioned. They folded their arms throughout their tactical vests and wore matching T-shirts with pictures of a rooster, the group’s insignia. While they didn’t converse publicly, video footage from the two-hour assembly confirmed them clapping and cheering as anti-mask audio system made their case.