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FBI classifies Proud Boys as 'extremist group with ties to white nationalism,' document reveals

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Proud Boys, founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media, has denied being a hate group, noting on its website that its members include all races, religions, and sexual preferences. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

The FBI has classified the activist group, Proud Boys, as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism," according to a Washington state sheriff's office, The Guardian reported.

Property of the People obtained an internal affairs report written in August by the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Vancouver, Washington, which revealed the FBI's designation for the group.

The Proud Boys had not been publicly designated as extremists prior to the document published online Monday by the nonprofit government transparency organization, according to The Guardian.

The group, which describes themselves as “western chauvinists,” was founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media. Proud Boys has denied being a hate group, noting on its website that its members include all races, religions, and sexual preferences.

How did the FBI designation end up in the sheriff's report?

The information was revealed in an internal affairs report penned by Clark County Sheriff's Commander Michael McCabe.

The Proud Boys were “publically (sic) categorized as an extremist group by the FBI in 2018," McCabe wrote.

McCabe's report was part of the detailed account of an internal investigation into Deputy Sheriff Erin Willey, who had ties to the Proud Boys group.

The investigation claimed that Willey produced and sold Proud Boys' Girls merchandise, a violation of department policy.

Willey had worked as a probationary deputy from June 2017 to June 2018, according to the report.

She allegedly failed to disclose information about her involvement with the Proud Boys Girls, “an affiliate group of women who openly support the ideology of the Proud Boys," from November 2016 to October 2017.

Willey's association with the group was revealed July 2 when the Columbian newspaper obtained photos of the deputy wearing Proud Boys Girls clothing and contacted the department.

She was initially placed on leave but was terminated July 17, before the report was completed and before the newspaper published its story about her connection to the group.

What did McCabe say?

McCabe told The Guardian that the FBI disclosed the Proud Boys' classification during a briefing on Aug. 2 at the Clark County west precinct.

The report stated that the FBI had warned local law enforcement about the Proud Boys' recruiting efforts in the Pacific Northwest, adding that the group had “contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”

What did the FBI say?

In a response to The Guardian, the FBI wrote that it "does not and will not police ideology.” The agency “regularly assesses intelligence regarding possible threats and works closely to share that information with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners."

The report did not clarify the basis for the claim that the Proud Boys have "ties to white nationalism."

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