From the Proud Boys to QAnon: Pictures show the growth of far-right extremism in 2020

·8 min read
Proud Boys
A man hold his hand to his heart as a Proud Boys organizer recites the Pledge of Allegiance during a Proud Boys rally at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2020. MARANIE R. STAAB/AFP via Getty Images
  • The year 2020 has been defined by the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the US presidential election.

  • These massive news events also fuelled a growing far-right movement across the United States and the world.

  • From The Proud Boys to the Boogaloo movement, 20 photos show how far-right groups found the limelight this year.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The far-right movement came out of the shadows in the last year.

The year 2020, defined by a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, brought white supremacists, right-wing extremists, and other groups promoting social unrest into the limelight.

From the Proud Boys to QAnon,  the armed militias, and the Boogaloo Bois, scroll down to find out more about how far-right extremism made its way back into the limelight in 2020.

The year 2020 has been defined by white supremacists' rapid growth, right-wing extremists, and other groups who promote hate, division, and social unrest.

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A counter-protester raises his hands in front of a far-right militia as militia groups stage rallies in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, U.S. August 15, 2020. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers

These groups have been fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 presidential election.

germany anti lockdown protest
Police douse demonstrators with water during protests against modifications to a law called the "infection protection law" ("Infektionsschutzgesetz") in Berlin, Germany, on November 18, 2020. Sean Gallup/Getty Images



The Proud Boys, a far-right political organization that calls itself a "fraternity" of "Western chauvinists", gained national media attention during the first presidential debate when President Trump told them to "stand back and stand by."

proud boys trump debate
The Proud Boys, a right-wing pro-Trump group, are heavily armed with military weapons gather with their allies in a rally called 'End Domestic Terrorism' against Antifa in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2020. John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The group was founded in 2018 by Gavin McInnes, who is also the co-founder of Vice Media. 

While McInnes and other leaders of the group have denied that it is racist, some members  "espouse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies" and are involved in white supremacist organizations, according to the ADL.

Classified by the FBI as an"extremist group with ties to white nationalism," the Proud Boys are known for holding rallies to protest left-wing groups and stoking violence.

Source: Fighting Antisemitism and Hate



Its profile gained national attention in the summer, at the height of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that erupted across the US following the death of George Floyd.

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Members of the Proud Boys and counter-protesters clash near Black Lives Matter Plaza on December 12, 2020, in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Source: Insider

The Proud Boys also made appearances at political rallies this year, including a November "Million MAGA March" demonstration against the election results.

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Members of "the Proud Boys" join supporters of US President Donald Trump during a rally in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The fraternity's international chairman, Enrique Tarrio, told Insider in September that some of its members were running for the 2020 election, but declined to identify them by name.

proud boys enrique tarrio
Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio rallies in Portland, Ore., during the group's "End Domestic Terrorism" gathering on August 17, 2019. AP Photo/Noah Berger

"We have our guys who are running for office, and we'll be busy door-knocking pretty much across the county," Tarrio told Insider at the time. "We're focused on the election and getting our favorite candidates elected, including our guys."

Source: Insider

The Proud Boys have also publicly supported 17-year-old shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged in the deaths of two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August.

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Trump supporters and the "Proud Boys" group attend a rally on December 11, 2020, in Washington, DC. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Source: Insider

Rittenhouse is a Trump supporter from Illinois who had previously expressed support on social media for the Blue Lives Matter movement and law enforcement.

Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse listens to defense attorney John Pierce during an extradition hearing in Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, Illinois, on October 30, 2020. Nam Y. Huh/Pool/AP Photos

Source: Insider

Other organizations that came to the forefront in 2020 include the Boogaloo Bois, a loosely organized far-right, anti-government group known for wearing trademark Hawaiian shirts and wielding rifles at various protests.

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Boogaloo Bois wait ahead of a protest in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 30, 2020. The Photo Access / MediaPunch /IPX

The Boogaloo Bois, who are supporters of the Second Amendment, have called for a second US civil war and an uprising against the federal government.

Source: Insider



The Boogaloo Bois have been linked to several crimes. Earlier this week, one member pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide weapons and resources to US-designated terrorist group Hamas.

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Members of the Boogaloo Movement stand in front of the Ohio Statehouse during a right-wing protest "Stand For America Against Terrorists and Tyrants" at State Capitol on July 18, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. JEFF DEAN/AFP via Getty Images

"This case highlights the real threat posed by domestic violent extremists who self-radicalize and threaten to violently attack others opposed to their views, with little or no warning," said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis field office, according to Insider.

Source: Insider

Paramilitary and far-right groups were also seen in Michigan earlier in the year when armed protesters from an anti-lockdown protest stormed the state's Capitol.

Coronavirus lockdown protest Michigan
People take part in a protest for "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine" at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Some of the protesters comparing the state's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, to Hitler.

President Trump later called them "very good people," adding that the governor should "make a deal with them."

Source: Business Insider

Some of the protesters were tied to a paramilitary militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen.

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Members of a militia group attack the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020. Seth Herald/Reuters

Several months later, members of the same group were arrested on charges of planning an alleged terrorism plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

Source: Business Insider

It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate the various groups from one another, as they often appear at the same rallies.

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Protesters march towards Freedom Plaza during a demonstration on December 12, 2020, in Washington, DC. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

This has particularly been the case in Germany, which has seen Europe's biggest anti-lockdown movement in recent months.

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A demonstrator holds a QAnon flag in Berlin, Germany, on November 18, 2020. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Far-right extremists are among the diverse group of anti-lockdown demonstrators who have been protesting regularly in the country.

germany anti lockdown protest
A demonstrator wrapped in a flag of the German empire faces off with riot policemen standing guard in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany on August 29, 2020. John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Despite having differing backgrounds, many protesters have united to accuse German lawmakers of triggering unnecessary panic by imposing local and national lockdowns.

Source: Business Insider

QAnon has also found fertile ground in Germany, where more than 200,000 people follow the US conspiracy theory on social media accounts on all platforms.

germany anti-lockdown protest qanon
Mostly right-wing protesters, including a young woman wearing a QAnon shirt, observe riot police clearing Unter den Linden avenue during protests against coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy on August 29, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

The same has been witnessed in other European countries, including the United Kingdom, where fascist symbols or QAnon references often make an appearance in anti-lockdown protests.

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Piers Corbyn speaks to demonstrators as a man holds up a QAnon sign behind him during a StandUpX March for Freedom protest on October 17, 2020, in London, England. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

In the summer, hundreds of demonstrators, some of whom belonged to far-right groups, clashed with police during a protest in London. This picture,- of a BLM supporter carrying an injured counter-protester to safety - made national headlines.

Protester Patrick Hutchinson carries an injured counter-protester to safety, near Waterloo station during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 13, 2020.
Protester Patrick Hutchinson carries an injured protester to safety, near Waterloo station during an anti-BLM protest, in London, Britain, on June 13, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Source: Insider

Experts worry right-wing extremism will continue to be a problem in the years to come. Top international security officials last year ranked it as one of the world's most serious security threats alongside space security, climate change, and emerging technologies.

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A member of the Proud Boys poses for a photo with the Patriot Elk, a reappropriated far-left protest sculpture, during a Defeat the Steal rally on November 14, 2020, in Salem, Oregon. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Source: World Economic Forum

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