SALT LAKE CITY — Who are the Proud Boys?

During Tuesday’s first presidential debate of 2020, moderator Chris Wallace, a Fox News host, asked President Donald Trump if he was willing to condemn white supremacist and militia groups and ask them to “stand down and not add to violence” in cities experiencing protests.

The president asked Wallace what he should call such groups and Democratic nominee Joe Biden suggested the Proud Boys.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

Who are the Proud Boys?

The Proud Boys have defined themselves as “western chauvinists” — as in the perspective of caucasian global west, not the western United States.

“We are a fraternal organization like the Elks Lodge. One-hundred percent of us are Western chauvinists which simply means we all believe the West is the Best,” wrote founder Gavin McInnes in 2017.

“Politically, a good 98% of us love Trump but that is not a requirement,” he added.

Although the Proud Boys insist they are “essentially a drinking club dedicated to male bonding, socializing and the celebration all things related to western culture,” the Anti-defamation League writes, they “bear many hallmarks of a gang.” This includes participating in violent behavior.

When did they begin?

The “men’s organization” was founded by McInnes in 2016, according to the website Proud Boy Magazine. McInnes, who says he left the group two years later, was living in New York City at the time.

McInnes was born in England, but grew up in Canada, The New York Times reported. He later founded Montreal-based magazine Vice and moved to Brooklyn, New York, before starting the Proud Boys.

What are their values?

The Proud Boys say their values are similar to modern conservative ideas like “minimal government,” “maximum freedom” and are pro-First and Second Amendment.

On their magazine’s website, they write that they are also anti-drug war, anti-racism, support closed borders and “glorifying the entrepreneur.”

They also claim to stand up for “anti-racial guilt,” “venerating the housewife,” and “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism.”

But contradictory values like western chauvinism and anti-racism are difficult to rectify.

Are they violent?

McInness has said the Proud Boys are not a violent organization, but their actions have said otherwise. “We don’t start fights but we will finish them,” he wrote on the magazine’s website.

The Proud Boys have participated in protest and counter-protests during public outcry of police brutality and anti-facism the past several years. On Wednesday in Oregon, Portland police arrested a man who identified as a Proud Boy member for allegedly pointing a handgun at protesters during an August rally, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The Proud Boy was charged and is being held on “multiple assault charges, pointing a firearm at another, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of tear gas, stun gun or mace,” according to the news report.

Digging deeper into their founder’s digital radio show and the actions of the group, the Proud Boys have represented startling positions.

“We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell. We will kill you,” he said on “The Gavin McInnes Show” in the summer of 2016, according to the Right Wing Watch.

In 2018, McInnes acted out the 1960 political assassination of a Japanese Socialist Party leader at Proud Boys gathering in the Manhattan’s New York Metropolitan Republican Club, reported New York publication Bedford + Bowery. A fight broke out after the speech between protesters and Proud Boys members.

At the time, McInnes said he was “dissociating myself from the Proud Boys” after 10 members faced criminal charges for the violent confrontation in New York, ABC News reported.

“I quit,” he said. “I’m told by my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture will help alleviate their sentencing.”

Two Proud Boys members were later convicted of “attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot,” The New York Times reported.

Proud Boy members have also sold T-shirts that said “Pinochet did nothing wrong” — referring to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who tortured and killed thousands of political enemies — and chanted similar calls at Trump rallies in 2019.

Proud Boys revel in Trump’s debate nod

The president did not directly condemn white supremacist organizations Tuesday evening, and the Proud Boys noticed.

Members of the group immediately began making memes of the president wearing Proud Boy affiliated attire and posting them to the web, The Washington Post reported.

The group also said they were seeing a spike in “new recruits,” according to The New York Times.

The Trump campaign spokesman said the president has “repeatedly, over the course of years now, denounced white supremacists and has been consistent in doing that,” according to Fox News.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the president said he “didn’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Axios reported.