North Carolina

Cary sports bar cancels meeting on Proud Boys, ‘alarming’ Wake GOP on free speech

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Members of the Proud Boys, the self-described “western chauvinist” group, marched through the streets of Orlando, Florida, as Donald Trump prepared to launch his 2020 presidential campaign in the city on Tuesday, June 18.
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Members of the Proud Boys, the self-described “western chauvinist” group, marched through the streets of Orlando, Florida, as Donald Trump prepared to launch his 2020 presidential campaign in the city on Tuesday, June 18.

A Cary sports bar canceled a group’s event that was scheduled to include discussion about the far-right Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group.

The Wake County Republican Liberty Caucus, a small group of libertarian Republicans, planned to host the discussion Aug. 15 at RallyPoint Sport Grill in Cary.

Defend UNC, a Chapel Hill group involved in Silent Sam protests, posted information about the event on Facebook Monday, calling Proud Boys a “fascist street gang.”

“Contact the venue, Rally Point Cary, and tell them not to host this indoctrination session,” says the Facebook post from Defend UNC, which calls itself an anti-racist group.

Defend UNC later updated the post to say the event had been canceled. “Rally Point Cary has announced they will not allow the event. Great work, all! Thank you for keeping our communities free of fascism.”

The Wake County Republican Liberty Caucus did not return The News & Observer’s call. The affiliated state Republican Liberty Caucus did not return an email.

On Tuesday, the Wake County Republican Party said in a statement that it “defends the right of any group of citizens to meet in a public place to discuss ideas, policies, or philosophies without threat of boycott or retribution. The fact that the Wake County Republican Liberty Caucus was denied that right is alarming.”

The Wake GOP noted that the Liberty Caucus is not a chartered organization within the county party, which does not have any role in the Liberty Caucus’ choice of speakers.

The Wake GOP statement went on to say that freedom of speech is for everyone, “not just those with popular views or with whom we agree. ... The Proud Boys are protected by the same First Amendment that protects media outlets and any other private group or citizen who wants to speak up. We tread on dangerous ground when we start picking and choosing who is and who isn’t protected by the First Amendment.”

A person who answered the phone at RallyPoint on Monday confirmed the event won’t be held there. She also said the small group had met at RallyPoint previously.

She did not want to share her name and deferred further questions to the owners of the sports bar, but did not provide information on how to reach them.

The Wake County Republican Liberty Caucus’ August business meeting event page on Facebook said it would include a presentation called “Who are the Proud Boys?,” with speaker Hussein Hill. It provided this description of Hill from his blog: “Hey, I’m Hussein Hill. I’m an independent, right leaning, libertarian content creator. I am here to create content that promotes the individual, art, pro American/Western values and the destruction of the modern, Marxist narrative.”

While the Proud Boys organization claims they are not part of the racist alt-right, the Southern Poverty Law Center says they appear at events with alt-right groups, including the “Unite the Right” Charlottesville, Va., rally.

Wake RLC wrote in its Facebook post about the August meeting: “This should be an interesting talk and give those in attendance a better understanding of the Alt Right.”

Proud Boys describe themselves as a fraternal organization, and to join “you must be a man and you must love the West.”

Hill told Indy Week in a text message that he doesn’t consider himself part of the alt-right “regardless of what the event billed it as,” according to a story published Monday. He also told the Triangle publication “you have literally no concrete evidence that either group [Proud Boys or American Guard] is a ‘hate group,’ ‘alt right,’ or any iteration there in [sic].”

The founder of the group has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center over the hate group label, according to NPR, CNN and other media outlets.

Wake RLC’s Facebook page describes its mission “to promote the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free markets in the GOP and beyond while growing our organization.”

The group’s July meeting was scheduled to be about criminal justice reform.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.
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