Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes filed a lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center for hurting him financially by branding his self-described crew of “western chauvinists” a “hate group.”
McInnes says in the lawsuit filed Monday that the SPLC’s “hate group” label cost him his PayPal account, got him banned from Facebook and Twitter, and drew criticism from his own neighbors, The Daily Beast reported.
“Mr. McInnes is essentially an untouchable, unable to retain or be considered for gainful employment in his line of work,” the lawsuit claims.
McInnes accused the SPLC of defamation and tortious interference with economic advantage. He is seeking a court order barring the group from referring to him as someone linked to a hate group.
McInnes founded the group in 2016. After drawing criticism for sexism for years, the group has most recently been involved in violent attacks on left-wing protesters.
McInnes in his lawsuit claimed that the SPLC “falsely” described the group as violent.
McInnes split from the group in November.
Other political figures take SPLC to court:
McInnes is not the first political figure to sue the SPLC over their designations.
“The SPLC issued an apology and a $3.4 million settlement payout in 2018 over wrongly listing British political activist Maajid Nawaz as an ‘anti-Muslim extremist.’ In January, the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies filed a racketeering lawsuit against the SPLC over its own hate group designation,” The Daily Beast reported.
SPLC describes Proud Boys’ ideology as “General Hate”:
"Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists," the SPLC reported. "They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, antisemites, Southern racists, and militias.
"McInnes himself has ties to the racist right and has contributed to hate sites like VDare.com and American Renaissance, both of which publish the work of white supremacists and so-called 'race realists.' He even used Taki’s Magazine — a far-right publication whose contributors include Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor — to announce the founding of the Proud Boys. McInnes plays a duplicitous rhetorical game: rejecting white nationalism and, in particular, the term 'alt-right' while espousing some of its central tenets. For example, McInnes has himself said it is fair to call him Islamophobic."