Albany Residents United Against Misogyny
by Submission – NY
ALBANY – Various social media accounts in New York State’s Capital District Region centered around anarchist and anti-capitalist causes have reported a growing alt-right presence in the area. This presence has been noted through comments and messages placed on leftist social media accounts and the creation of rapidly growing alt-right fan pages. Although most of the posts found in these places had, up to now, not appeared to be an immediate threat, more recently comments have taken on an increasingly physically threatening tone.
In the interest of community defense, several community members have worked to monitor this threat. Through this process, they have been able to identify several social media accounts claiming local chartership of the Proud Boys, as well as identifying individual members of the group. The Proud Boys are a nationwide fraternal organization that tasks its members with physically defending “the Western way of life”. The group embraces male chauvinism, getting into street fights with leftists, and denigrating feminism and Non-christian religions. If you’ve seen any of the videos from the confrontations in Berkeley, you’ve probably seen the Proud Boys in action, wildly throwing punches at Antifa members (and anyone nearby), and pepper spraying protesters.
Who are the Proud Boys?
Misogony and Anti-LGBTQ+
The Proud Boys cloak themselves in a chauvinistic patriotism based in idealized nostalgia. They endorse what is referred to as “radical traditionalism,” an ideology based in subjugating women and returning men to bread winner status. In support of this chauvinism they support anything perceived to counter feminism, including fat shaming and rape denialism. To give you a taste of the sort of fringe ideas espoused by the group, the movement’s founder Gavin McInnes has penned articles such as “Hey, Ladies! Short Hair Is Rape,”, “Feminist Witch Hunts are Rape”, “When Is It OK To Hit A Woman?”,” and “Having Kids Turns You Into A Complete F*g.”” While the group claims to support “Gays,” their disdain for anything in opposition to heteronormitve masculinity is readily apparent as is their opposition to the trans rights movement. A current popular trend among members of the Proud Boys on social media is to denigrate women (typically those identifying as on the left) by saying how many beers or what types of drugs they would have to consume to have sex with them.
Islamophobia and Racism
The alt-right group also promotes the idea that the “West is the best.” The perpetuation of this ideal directly translates into disparaging Muslims and any individual or movement trying to achieve racial justice. Their social media accounts are filled with content denigrating Islam and the Proud Boys were vocal supporters of the series of islamaphobic “Against Sharia Law” rallies hosted by racist organization ACT for America. For an example of the Proud Boys’ underlying ethos concerning people of color, one only has to look at founder Gavin McInnes, who titled a piece of writing “I’m Not a Racist, Sexist, or a Homophobe, You N*gger Sl*t F*gg*t”, for an example of the Proud Boys underlying ethos concerning people of color.
The manifestation of these ideals corresponds to the usual rabid Trump support, but more uniquely the Proud Boys demonstrate a fetishism and penchant for violence. The Proud Boys have a hierarchy of membership, denoted by “degrees.” This ranges from first degree to fourth. Getting these degrees requires pretty standard gang initiation rituals – including getting a “Proud Boy” tattoo and getting hazed by other members through a gang beating. The fourth, and most sought-after, degree is the one which presents the most immediate security concern. It requires that a member seek out an antifascist/leftist and physically beat them in public. This is not unlike the skinhead distinction of red-laced boots, which designate the wearer as having shed blood for the skinhead movement. Racist skinheads will often randomly attack non-whites to “earn” their red laces. In the Proud Boys’ cultish hierarchy this is referred to as “getting your fourth,” and Berkeley was a field day for Proud Boys trying to win this designation. To put the seriousness of this into perspective, several months ago an antifascist in California was hospitalized due to injuries she sustained after being attacked by Neo-Nazi and Proud Boy affiliate Nathan Domingo.
Growth in Albany
The local Albany Proud Boy chapter’s activities have appeared to pick up recently, with the group travelling to demonstrations around the country including New York City in May and June and Washington DC last week. These events included an islamophobic rally in NYC hosted by ACT and a so-called “anti-political violence” rally in DC. Another affiliated account has more overtly racist content, such as a post with white laced boots— symbolism that identifies a skinhead as being supportive of “…’white power,’ as opposed to a non-racist (‘traditional’) or anti-racist skin.”
Individuals’ membership to the group has been verified through their social media presence. Disturbingly, several of these individuals’ social media accounts claim employment or association with the same tattoo shop in Albany. These include receptionist Erica Christine Cocca, and tattooers “Kirby”(alternatively listed as both Kyle Kirby and Kirby Kyle) and Richie Van. The latter two publicly display their status as 3rd Degree Proud Boys on their social media accounts.
Van, a popular tattoo artist in the Albany area, has a particularly visible presence. While his original Twitter account has been permanently suspended, his new account has received shout outs from Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and alt-right figure Kyle Chapman AKA “Based Stickman”. Tweets from his old account have also been featured on former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos’ website. His Twitter account claims he is the co-founder of the New Hampshire Proud Boys.
Erica Cocca also has a large Twitter presence attached to the affiliated Proud Boys’ Girls, whose Twitter account claims it as the only auxiliary group “associated with and recognized by the Proud Boys & PB Magazine.” It claims to represent “the wives/girlfriends/cheerleaders of the Proud Boys and the Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights.” Her image has been retweeted by both the official Proud Boy and Proud Boys’ Girls account. Par for the course her social media is filled with retweets of Islamophobic content.
Though Kirby’s social media presence is comparatively diminutive, his Twitter posts are no less disturbing. As with other Proud Boys, much of the content focuses on the glorification of violence, anti-Islamic comments, and misogynistic imagery.
In addition to the previous Proud Boys associated with, another prominent member of the local branch has been identified: Todd Clark. Clark’s Facebook account prominently displays his affiliation with the group and shares many of the same images as the official Albany Proud Boys’ account. He has worked with a local plumbing company.
We hope this information can help protect the community. As noted above, the Proud Boys glorify violence as a part of their aesthetic, especially against those on the left (both real and perceived). Because of this, our community and others should continue discussions about community safety – namely self-defense preparedness, first-aid response, and public event security. In the short term, community members should consider practicing basic safety protocols and be prepared to protect themselves either through carrying defense/preventive safety measures such as pepper spray or enrolling in some form of personal defense training. Local activists should make sure other organizers are aware of this going forward.
With all of this said, it’s very important to encourage everyone to KEEP SHOWING UP. The point of the Proud Boys’ tactics is to scare leftists into staying home, so if any community member fears for their safety, make sure to contact your fellow organizers and community leaders so they can organize a response. The more eyes on this problem, and the more hands working to fix it, the better. Don’t let these fuckers win.
Proud Boys Albany
Editor’s note: Due to the unprecedented volume of views, we have decided to remove the information surrounding employment. Two owners have contacted us and expressly stated that they do not condone the actions of the Proud Boys, but also felt it was not fair to other employees to have to endure harassment on their behalf. We agree and do not condone the harassment of innocent people. To that point, we do not publish, nor have we ever published, personal information such as addresses or phone numbers. As we reviewed this piece, we felt that the authors’ stated goal of promoting community safety and self-defense was clear. Our goal is to report news and information in the public interest so that communities can decide what the best course of action is with accurate, relevant information.