Many would claim that the election of Donald Trump has emboldened members of the alt-right movement. Now, the release and subsequent glorification of Kyle Chapman has further stirred the fires of alt-right loyalism and rhetoric. Chapman was released from jail on March 8th. He had been held on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon since March 4th when he participated in violence at a rally in Berkeley.
Chapman was found to be in possession of a dagger during the violent encounter. He also was videoed beating protesters and wearing a mask. These videos have become popular on YouTube and received many views. Those who support Trump and the alt-right movement have elevated Chapman to the role of Internet celebrity. He’s even adopted the nickname “Based Stickman” in the wake of his violent efforts.
Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes was quick to embrace Chapman as a member of the Proud Boys, an alt-right group that has its own checkered reputation for violence. McInnes stated in April that Chapman would become the face of FOAK, or the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Nights. McInnes makes no secret that FOAK is being envisioned as a paramilitary wing of the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys and McInnes have gained notoriety for essentially being a more sophisticated version of the Ku Klux Klan. They regularly publicize their racist activities and use inflammatory words and remarks. The Proud Boys are proud of the fact that they use words like “slopes” and “riceballs” to describe Asians, and they frequently use the N-word. They also have an explicit bias against Muslims.
Among the most recent activities sponsored by the Proud Boys and McInnes was a gathering at the Berkeley protest. They were hopeful that the event would turn into a brawl, and their hopes were realized. A core requirement for membership in the Proud Boys is a willingness to physically clash with liberal protesters. Tattoos are also mandatory. The group bears a close resemblance to Skinheads and other white supremacist groups.
Now, McInnes has essentially named Chapman as a general or leader of FOAK. Whether McInnes is trying to capitalize on Chapman’s Internet fame or whether he values Chapman’s willingness to commit violence is unclear.
The arrival of Chapman in the group has been accompanied with a new recruitment initiative that has many citizens concerned. Some individuals feel as if the United States has regressed dangerously close to the state of race relations in the 1950’s and 60’s. Most blame Trump for the emboldened attitude of individuals like Chapman and McInnes.