They appeared with Jacarri Kelley, the leader of Black Lives Matter, Northern Utah. It’s a chapter that’s unaffiliated with Black Lives Matter Utah, headed by Alexis Scott.
“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 the local Proud Boys president, a man named Seth who declined to offer his last name.
It’s a line seemingly at odds with an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League say is a hate group.
“We are in no way, shape or form white supremacists,” said Thad, the group’s chief, who also declined to provide his last name.
The men said their safety is threatened when people believe they are white supremacists.
What they claim to be is “western chauvinists.” What does that mean?
“It means that the west is the best — western civilization is the best. That’s our opinion,” Thad said.
Seth added that chauvinism should be understood as patriotism.
Proud Boys was founded by a Gavin McInnes, someone Thad and Seth acknowledge is an instigator.
He can be found online doing Nazi salutes and using the N-word.
Seth and Thad dismiss McInnes as simply a provocateur — someone who does outlandish things for clickbait.
Why would they want to be associated with someone like that?
“He’s gone, he’s not part of the organization anymore,” both men said.
The Salt Lake chapter of the group says they’ll continue to link arms with Black Lives Matter, Northern Utah.
“Meeting and talking and having that understanding allowed us to move forward with working together on police reform,” Seth said.
Kelley, who first met the Proud Boys at a protest in Cottonwood Heights, says the partnership is real.
“We do need to be able to reach across the aisle and have these tough conversations,” she said.