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Proud Boys poker run to benefit veterans canceled

Proud Boys

The Proud Boys describes its members as “Western chauvinists" and has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A July 24 poker run that was to raise money for veterans with an East Helena VFW post has been canceled, after concerns were raised that the event was being sponsored by the Proud Boys, according to a website posting.

A posting at pbpokerrun.com states the event, which was to launch from East Helena, has been “officially” canceled due to “snowflakes,” which is a term to describe very sensitive people.

“Unfortunately, a few uninformed sheep started causing problems …” the site states.

The posting apologizes for any inconvenience and “hope (y'all) have a great summer.”

Thomas Reeder, who was organizing the event, said Wednesday morning there still may be some kind of a ride, but was unable to provide more information at the time.

In June, Reeder said he would strip the Proud Boys’ name as a sponsor after it was announced the group was hosting an event to benefit VFW Post 10010 in East Helena.

The post commander said in June he was unaware that the VFW was to be associated with the event and said they could not be affiliated with the ride. The Proud Boys is a far-right group that has made headlines for entering the fray in support of former President Donald Trump. The Proud Boys describes its members as “Western chauvinists" and has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The New York Times says the Proud Boys was founded By Gavin McInnes in 2016 as a club for men. Members describe themselves as “Western chauvinists” and appeared “eager to engage in violence and who frequently espoused anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic views,” the Times reported. The Proud Boys has reportedly been disavowing Trump, claiming he did nothing to help those in the group who face legal action for the Jan. 6 insurrection which resulted in violence at the Capitol.

Most recently, Proud Boys took part in the Sagebrush Days parade on July 3 in Buhl, Idaho, the Associated Press reported.

The East Helena event included a 150-plus mile ride, a 50/50 raffle, prizes, barbecue and beverages. Tickets were listed at $25 per person or $60 for couples. 

After the concerns were raised, Reeder planned to take the Proud Boys name off the event and have it anyway. Reeder is a former Marine who said he found a brotherhood in the Proud Boys. He said earlier the fundraiser was never officially a Proud Boys event, and he had approached national leadership and was told it was his decision as to whether to attach the Proud Boys name to it.

He said he thought the Proud Boys name could be a draw. He denied claims that Proud Boys is a racist organization, noting the ethnic diversity within national leadership. He also said the event was focused on helping heroes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks and exposes the activities of hate groups and other domestic extremists, listed the Proud Boys as one of six hate groups in Montana.

They said the Proud Boys are “self-described ‘Western chauvinists’ who adamantly deny any connection to the racist ‘alt-right.’ They insist they are simply a fraternal group spreading an ‘anti-political correctness’ and ‘anti-white guilt’ agenda.”

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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