SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. (WTVO) — Leaders of a local chapter of both Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter met to denounce white supremacy last week, after they were mentioned at the first presidential debate.
The Proud Boys said their safety is threatened when people believe they are white supremacists, according to KUTV.
“I will go out and say that the Proud Boys as a whole, I will say this on behalf of the entire national organization, denounce white supremacy,” the chief of the Proud Boys Salt Lake Utah Chapter, who only gave the name Thad, said, FOX13 reported.
“We are in no way, shape or form White supremacists,” Thad said. “We have a vetting system that gets those people out of our hair. We do not have anything to do with White supremacy. We do not have anything to do with the Ku Klux Klan. We denounce those organizations.”
The Proud Boys met with Jacarri Kelly, the leader of Black Lives Matter Northern Utah, which is not affiliated with Black Lives Matter Utah.
“I had no idea who the Proud Boys were. I heard the words Proud Boys mentioned throughout the activist community and I just didn’t know who they were, and then I started to hear they were white supremacists,” she said.
Kelly met with Thad and Proud Boys chapter president, Seth, to discuss myths about both groups. “We came to realize we had more in common than not,” she said. “In order to combat evil and racism and hatred in this country, we do need to be able to reach across the aisle and have these tough conversations that everybody [is] scared to have.”
Kelly said the Proud Boys she had met are not white supremacists, and said they were “proud American men” who needed “a little bit of respect and education in order to bridge gaps.”
“I don’t care what color your skin is, we’re all Americans and we need to find a way to come together instead of divide,” said Seth.
Thad, however, singled out Antifa, which Biden called an “idea” and not an organization at the debate, saying “they are a problem, they are not an idea, they are very much an organization, they are in terrorist cells…that’s why they say they are not an organization, they function autonomously and in cells, much like terrorists.”
According to KUTV, Thad said the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, along with the mainstream media, had created a misconception about the group, blaming violence that has taken place at certain Proud Boys events on provocations by Antifa.
Proud Boys were founded by former Vice Media founder Gavin McInnes, who has since been excised from the group.