Trump refuses to condemn white supremacy, tells Proud Boys to ‘stand by’

A social media account for the Proud Boys made the Trump phrase 'Stand back. Stand by' part of its new logo.

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election has been described as “chaotic,” a generous characterization. President Donald Trump was loud and belligerent, while former vice president Joe Biden responded by mocking the president, calling him a “clown.”

One of the most stunning moments of the night was when Trump refused to condemn white supremacy and white supremacists. 

Americans Across The Nation Watch First Presidential Debate
People sit and watch a broadcast of the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at The Abbey, with socially distanced outdoor seating, in West Hollywood. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and say that they need to stand down amid ongoing protests against police violence in the country. Wallace specifically pointed to Kenosha and Portland, where people have been killed during protests. 

“Sure, I’m willing to (tell them to stand down), but I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said.

Read More: Trump turns first debate into utter chaos, repeatedly interrupts Biden

“Say it. Do it. Say it,” Biden retorted. 

Trump then asked Wallace for a specific group to condemn. Biden twice said, “Proud Boys.” 

“Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

The Proud Boys is a far-right group the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group. On their website, they describe themselves as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

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The group was founded in 2016 in New York by Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice Media, and has since spread across the U.S., as well as to countries like Australia and Japan. It has been banned on Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter has suspended several Proud Boys-related accounts. 

However, after last night’s debate, one known social media account for the group made the phrase “Stand back. Stand by” part of its new logo.

Joe Biden tweeted screenshots of members of the organization celebrating after the president’s remarks, saying, “This. This is Donald Trump’s America.” 

Other Twitter responses were just as expressive.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified earlier this year that federal authorities had “elevated to the top-level priority racially motivated violent extremism, so it’s on the same footing in terms of our national threat banding as ISIS and homegrown violent extremism.”

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