Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is so desperate for cash these days that he’s selling “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts and even “Impeach 45″ garb in a dig at his hero Donald Trump, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Tarrio and other leaders of the extreme right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been scrambling financially since being ejected by mainstream social media sites and dumped by credit cards and other internet payment systems for their hate speech and incitement of violence, according to the Journal. Dozens of members of both groups have been arrested for crimes in the Capitol insurrection.
The financial stress is causing dissension among members and reducing the number of converts, according to the Journal.
Tarrio, who was once an FBI informant, told the newspaper he has taken to peddling progressive wares in a kind of jujutsu strategy to get by. He would not reveal the e-commerce website for those sales, but a Journal reporter witnessed an assistant making the Black Lives Matter shirts at Tarrio’s office in Miami.
Tarrio and other Proud Boys also sell their standard T-shirts and other items at a website called 1776.shop, but the site is likely to pull in tens of thousands of dollars less than last year, the Journal reported.
Both the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have also reportedly turned to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a desperate bid to help them fundraise on his Infowars outlet.
“We’re bleeding,” Tarrio said in an interview in April, referring to the Proud Boys internet business. “We’ve been bleeding money since January, like hemorrhaging money.”
Years ago, both uber-right groups were reportedly winning thousands of converts and earning big bucks on the internet.
Trouble for the groups began to erupt in 2017 after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalist James Alex Fields, Jr. killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer when he deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Fields is serving life plus 419 years for the murder.
The Capitol siege made it much worse for the extreme-right groups.
Now the Proud Boys are so squeezed that Tarrio has laid off some office workers, and is scrambling to raise office rent and legal fees, he told the Journal. He barely made enough at a gun show last month to cover the cost of his table at the event, he complained.
One former Proud Boys member accused Tarrio and other right-wing leaders of using the organizations’ platforms merely for profit, which Tarrio denied. “They say they are in it for one thing, but it’s actually just to make money,” the former member, who has switched his allegiance to the far-right group Patriot Prayer, told the Journal.
A half-dozen current or former Oath Keepers board directors and members accused their founder, Stewart Rhodes, of misusing dues and donations for thousands of dollars in personal expenses, according to the Journal. “He used that thing as a piggy bank,” Ed Wilson, an Army veteran who managed information technology for the Oath Keepers in 2015, told the newspaper.
Rhodes also denied the accusations but told the newspaper in April that the group’s bank account was down to $10,000. Former Oath Keepers board members said membership had plummeted 80% from its peak to 7,500.
Neither Rhodes nor Tarrio have been charged in the Capitol insurrection. Tarrio was arrested in Washington, D.C., just days before the siege for allegedly torching a Black Lives Matter banner at a Black church and for possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines. He was barred from the District of Columbia following his arrest.
Read the entire Wall Street Journal story on the struggles of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers here.