MESS IN TEXAS
Exclusive: Lawyer for Ultranationalist ‘Proud Boys’ Arrested for Allegedly Faking Gun Theft
Jason Lee Van Dyke, who represents the far-right Proud Boys, was arrested for filing a false police report—but he says someone broke into his truck, stole his guns, and framed him.
The lawyer for the ultranationalist group the Proud Boys was arrested last week for allegedly filing a false police report about the theft of his guns.
Jason Lee Van Dyke, who represents the far-right Proud Boys, was arrested on Friday, according to police records in Oak Point, Texas. An arrest affidavit reveals he was taken into custody after police came to doubt his initial report of thieves breaking into his car and making off with his guns. The arrest comes amid heightened legal scrutiny for the Proud Boys, who were among a coalition of far-right brawlers in Portland, Oregon this summer.
Van Dyke says police have it wrong. “I completely deny these allegations and I look forward to being exonerated and I’ve got no further comment,” he told The Daily Beast on Monday evening.
Police say he called them late on September 13 to report a burglary. Someone had allegedly broken into his truck, swiped three guns, a backpack, and a bag of his roommate Isaac’s camera equipment. The thief fled when Van Dyke came out of his house with a different gun, he claimed, according to an arrest affidavit reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Sure enough, when police arrived at his house, they found his truck unusually damaged. Someone appeared to have thrown a brick at the vehicle. A rear window was partially down, and the corresponding door unlocked. The guns and camera bag were missing.
But a roommate gave a different version of the story, according to the report. Yes, Van Dyke’s guns and the camera equipment had gone missing, his roommate Isaac told police. But he said they’d disappeared earlier that day. Isaac told police that Van Dyke had complained of the missing guns earlier in the evening, and that together they’d searched the house and car, to no avail. While they searched, Isaac realized his camera bag was missing, too.
It was only later, when Isaac was visiting a friend, that he said Van Dyke called police to report the burglary from his truck. The brick that had damaged his truck matched the sooty bricks from Van Dyke’s backyard fire pit, where some bricks had been removed, police later discovered.
Van Dyke was arrested on a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report, and paid a $1,000 bond to leave jail that night.
The incident isn’t the first time Van Dyke has claimed he’s been framed. Legal blog Popehat previously wrote about a popular online theory that claims Van Dyke authored several posts on the white supremacist forum Stormfront using the screen name “WNLaw” (short for “white nationalist law”). Asked about the posts in April, Van Dyke told The Daily Beast that Stormfront was “despicable.” He denied writing them and suggested the 2011 posts may have originated from “an identity theft problem back in 2014, which appears to be when a lot of these things were posted … as far as I know, someone created it to discredit me.”
It’s also not Van Dyke’s first brush with the law. He was arrested for domestic violence, possession of a banned weapon, and firearm safety violations in 2000, although the charges were later dismissed. A Michigan State University student at the time of the arrests, he was expelled after campus police searched his dorm and found “extremist literature, including the race war fantasy novel The Turner Diaries and the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Presently, Van Dyke spends much of his time acting as legal counsel for the Proud Boys and engaging in spats with enemies online. In 2014, he tweeted a picture of a noose at an enemy and demanded he “look good and hard at this picture you fucking n****r. It’s where I am going to put your neck.”
When Popehat blogged about him in 2017, Van Dyke threatened to make author Ken White “so miserable and treat you with such extreme and unprecedented cruelty that you’ll either kill yourself or move yourself and your family to the most remote part of the world you can afford to escape my wrath.”
Earlier this year he filed a $100-million lawsuit against an internet rival, who Van Dyke said had cost him a job as a felony prosecutor in a Texas district attorney’s office, as The Daily Beast previously reported. The defendant, who has his own history with the internet far-right, provided the court with death threats Van Dyke allegedly sent him. The case is ongoing.
This summer, Van Dyke’s registry on the Texas Bar association changed, seemingly reflecting that he had retired as a lawyer. Even that was not fully accurate, Van Dyke told The Daily Beast in a July email.
“I am still representing the Proud Boys,” he said. “My status on the State Bar website is designed to reflect the fact that, although I am still licensed to practice law for the time being, I am no longer practicing law as my full time occupation and I am not currently accepting any new clients.”