The founder of the Proud Boys joined the vigil for Donald Trump outside Walter Reed Medical Centre this weekend after the president gave a shout-out to the far-right group during the first presidential debate.
He was spotted in the crowd, draped in what appeared to be a Trump/Pence campaign flag, outside the Maryland hospital by a CNN video producer. Mr McInnes also appeared to be holding a Budweiser beer and not wearing a mask.
Some were “chanting ‘Gavin! Gavin!’ as he arrived,” Donald Judd tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice , established the Proud Boys in 2016 before leaving the group in 2018.
The Proud Boys has taken on “Stand Back and Stand By” as a new motto in reference to Mr Trump’s response of Joe Biden’s requests he denounce the group and white supremacy.
The Proud Boys were introduced to the debate by after Mr Wallace asked if Mr Trump would denounce white supremacists.
“Sure, I’m prepared to do it,” Mr Trump said, before adding. “You want to call them, what do you want to call them? Give me a name, give me…”
As Mr Wallace began saying “white supremacists and right-wing…”, Mr Biden cut the moderator off to say Proud Boys, prompting the president to respond: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”
Self-described as a “western chauvinist” male fraternity, it describes its goal as “anti-political correctness”. The Proud Boys rose to prominence following the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in which a woman was killed in a car attack.
Mr McInness left the Proud Boys in 2018 after two members were charged with assault. The group has been increasingly criticized for the anti-Muslim and white nationalist rhetoric of its members.
Proud Boys is currently led by chairman Enrique Tarrio, who is of Cuban descent. Following last week’s debate, Mr Tarrio said he was not taking Mr Trump’s comments as a direct endorsement, as the question was in reference to white supremacy and he says “he ain’t white and ain’t fascist”.
His account has since been suspended by Twitter.
While crowds continued to grow outside the hospital, impromptu rallies and vigils were held around the country as the president thanked his supporters.
“The fact is, they really love our Country and are seeing how we are MAKING IT GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!”
The president made a surprise appearance outside the hospital on Sunday night for his supporters before returning back inside.