Proud Boys Regroup, focusing on school boards and city councils

While the membership of the proud boys is not public, Mr Holt said the group seemed to be growing in small towns and counties.

Often, their presence has been enough to disrupt events. Last month, the school board in Beloit, Wis., Said it canceled the class because some of the proud boys were at a local protest over mask demands. In Orange County, California, the school board said in September it would install metal detectors and hire extra security after several proud boys attended a meeting and threatened its members.

In New Hanover County, NC, which has about 220,000 people and is located two hours north of Charlotte, Stefanie Adams, the school board president, said she had read about the group’s rising performances and began following the reports closely.

Ms. Adams said she had a clue that the proud boys could show up in her school district, which has 25,000 students. Because North Carolina law requires the county school board to vote on whether to continue a masking mandate for students each month, the district had handled many controversial meetings on the issue, she said.

“I figured we were on their radar and that we might be the next one,” Ms. Adams. “We knew we had to prepare for them to come to our city, too.”

Last month, Mrs Adams was informed by the security chief of the board, whom she had hired for the monthly meetings, that some proud boys were outside the building for the vote on the mask mandate.

Five proud boys eventually entered the room and stood at the back, Ms. Adams. They folded their arms over their tactical vests and wore matching T-shirts with pictures of a rooster, the group’s insignia. Although they did not speak in public, video footage from the two-hour meeting showed them clapping and cheering while anti-mask speakers presented their case.

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