Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is still struggling to distance himself from his extreme image. After stepping down in November from the far-right group he created, McInnes now wants neighbors in his tony New York suburb to take down yard signs aimed at him and his former group.
“You may have heard that I am the leader of a hate group called the Proud Boys,” McInnes wrote in a Dec. 28 letter to his neighbors obtained by The Daily Beast. “Everything about that rumor is false.”
Of course, that’s not true: in October, at a Manhattan GOP club, he gave a speech celebrating the murder of a left-wing politician. After the event, McInnes’s Proud Boy followers attacked left-wing protesters, a clash that resulted in criminal charges against several Proud Boys and several anti-fascists.
After the New York attack, one of McInnes’s neighbors in the wealthy suburb of Larchmont proposed that residents buy “Hate Has No Home Here” signs as a quiet rebuke to McInnes and the Proud Boys. The signs, which feature the message in several languages, soon started appearing in Larchmont.
As the signs popped up, McInnes’s wife claimed in an email reported by The Daily Beast in November that her family were the victims of “misinformation.”
“The media has recently accused my husband of being an alt-right hate group leader,” she wrote. “This is simply not true.”
With the sign campaign still going nearly three months later, McInnes now wants them to come down. In the letter, McInnes describes himself as “a pro-gay, pro-Israel, virulently anti-racist libertarian” and complains that the anti-hate signs as an attack on him and his family.
“I am writing on behalf of my family to ask you to reconsider whether the message of your lawn sign moves our world and our village in the direction of love at all, or whether it sends a very different message instead,” McInnes wrote in the letter, which was also obtained by HuffPost.
In the letter, McInnes claims that his neighbors won’t find anything “hateful, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or intolerant” in “any of my expressions of my worldview.”
“Hate certainly has no place here, and like you I am committed to keeping it that way!”
In fact, though, McInnes has a history of making hateful or extreme statements. He has ranted about Jews, saying that he was “becoming anti-Semitic” after a trip to Israel. He has called trans people “gender n**gers,” and once wrote that women want to be "downright abused.”
McInnes’s letter also downplays his role in creating the Proud Boys, an extremist group that has clashed with left-wing protesters at rallies across the country. While the group has some non-white members, it has also served as a gateway to white supremacist groups, with some members showing up at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017.
“The Proud Boys are a drinking club I started several years ago as a joke,” McInnes writes in the letter. “There is no racial or ethnic component to its membership, its program or the idea behind it. As it is, I quit my involvement with the group recently and have nothing to do with it whatsoever.”
McInnes, a former Vice magazine co-founder who left the outlet in 2008, told The Daily Beast that he’s sent out roughly a dozen letters to the closest homeowners and businesses posting the signs. McInnes claims that he’s been able to convince one store owner, a Trump voter, to take down a sign.
“They had no idea it was a DNC motto,” McInnes told The Daily Beast. “They voted for Trump and it had been presented to them as a nice gesture about love and inclusion. It ultimately means, ‘Trump supporters are racist,’ which is absurd. They took it down.”
Despite his conciliatory tone in the letter, though, McInnes isn’t always so polite about his neighbors and their signs. He devoted an hour-long podcast on Friday to the signs, with a decidedly less neighborly tone.
“If you have that sign on your lawn, you’re a fucking retard,” McInnes said.