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Rally organizer supports far-right Proud Boys

One of the organizers of the Friday night event to support the North Stanly High School cheerleaders has ties to the Proud Boys — a far-right group labeled as a “general hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jay Thaxton, who lives in Cabarrus County, said he is a supporter of the group and his Facebook cover photo is a Proud Boys graphic. He and friend Jeremy Onitreb are organizers of a rally to support North Stanly High School cheerleaders, who were put on probation by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for holding a Trump 2020 banner during a recent football game.

Thaxton countered that they are “in no way” white nationalists. Calling ‘white nationalist’ a “gaslight term,” Thaxton said the Proud Boys are “proud nationalists.”

He said opponents of the Proud Boys like to interject race “by coining a phrase white nationalist.”

“If you are proud of your country, then you should be a nationalist,” he said.

Sheriff Jeff Crisco said he did not know that Thaxton was a member of the Proud Boys and that additional security measures are being put in place for the event. Crisco said the ultimate responsibility is the safety and security of those attending the football game.

To Thaxton, the Proud Boys are “proud western chauvinists” and “proud to be masculine in the Western world.” He added that, to the group, there is “no such thing as toxic masculinity.”

Proud Boy members and anyone who supports them are also family-oriented, patriotic and believe above all else in the importance of the Constitution, Thaxton said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights watchdog that tracks hate groups, wrote that “rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists” and that the group “appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.” That rally resulted in self-identified members of the alt-right, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists chanting racist slogans and carrying racist and Nazi symbols. The rally, which occurred because of controversy about the removal of a Confederate monument, killed one woman in a vehicle-ramming attack.

The SPLC wrote that the group, which was created in 2016, is known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.

Though Thaxton was aware that the SPLC has referred to the Proud Boys as a hate group, he disagreed with the characterization.

“From my experience, the left will demonize any narrative that they do not agree with,” he said. “If you don’t fall in line with their creed or mantra, then their gaslight term is to call that organization racist.”

In order to contradict the SPLC, Thaxton pointed out that the group’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio, is an Afro-Cuban immigrant, which would make the group “the worst racists in history,” he said.

When Thaxton was asked if he was officially a member of the group, he declined to say.

Asked about the probation by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Thaxton believes the cheerleaders were simply expressing free speech.

“Whether it’s a school policy or a rule, that doesn’t trump the Constitution of the United States,” he said.

The NCHSAA described the probation as merely a warning because the school system did not punish the squad and they can still perform during football games.

The incident has received national and even international attention, with many people angry that the girls were punished simply for expressing their political beliefs.

 

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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