‘We will kill you’: Gang leader’s Aussie visit
A LAWYER who opposes the upcoming speaking tour of Australia by the founder of a violent right-wing "gang" is concerned about possible retaliations from his supporters.
Gavin McInnes, founder the controversial group The Proud Boys, who has declared his members are ready to kill, is due to speak at several events across Australia in December.
Nyadol Nyuon, a lawyer and equality advocate, started a petition calling for his entry to be blocked by immigration authorities on character grounds.
"If you look at the things Gavin has said himself, it's pretty obvious why this is not someone who should be coming to Australia," Ms Nyuon said.
"Watching Gavin describe what the group is - that The Proud Boys will kill you and assassinate you, encouraging violence - he is selling violence as a legitimate political tool."
Since the petition gained traction, with more than 33,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, Ms Nyuon has had to avoid a barrage of abusive comments from Mr McInnes' supporters.
"I've kept myself away from it, I've quarantined myself because I'm slightly concerned about the conduct of The Proud Boys," she said.
"There have been a few people who have been racist, talking about someone who looks like me speaking up, but I've ignored it. I've had people tell me not to read the comments and to just focus on what I'm doing, which is what I'm doing."
Founded in 2016 in the shadow of the election that saw Donald Trump becoming US President, The Proud Boys is an ultra-right men's group which advocates extreme violence against any perceived enemies.
"We will kill you - that's The Proud Boys in a nut shell. We will kill you," Mr McInnes said in one video.
"We look nice, we seem soft, we have 'boys' in the name, but we will assassinate you."
In multiple other videos for his internet series Get Off My Lawn, Mr McInnes has given followers instructions to attack left-wing opponents and if approached by anyone on the street who seemed to be a progressive, to "trust your instincts" and "choke him".
"Beating the sh*t out of these people, I think it's our job to do it," he said in one video.
In another he declared: "Fighting solves everything. We need more violence from the Trump people, Trump supporters. Choke a mother f***er. Choke a b**ch. Choke a tranny. Get your fingers around the windpipe."
Other violent commentary has referred to guns, with calls for members to obtain firearms and "get ready to blow someone's f***ing head off".
Now, Mr McInnes is preparing for an Australian tour, with speaking engagements booked in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in December.
The government has so far resisted calls to intervene in the matter and revoke his visa.
WHO IS GAVIN MCINNES?
Mr McInnes rose to prominence as the co-founder of the media group Vice, before departing in 2008 and reinventing himself as a conservative commentator.
The 48-year-old, who is British-born but Canadian-raised, began hosting a video and podcast series titled "Get Off My Lawn" and appeared on cable news panels.
"We tried their way. We tried apologies, capitulation and shame. Now it's time for them to try something," the description of his series reads.
The Proud Boys, which he proudly describes as a "gang", boasts members across the United States but it's the increasingly violent tone of his messages that has generated headlines.
In October, while he spoke at a function in New York, protesters and The Proud Boys members violently clashed outside.
Five of the group's members faced charges of assault and riot, gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Critics of the group claim McInnes has openly incited violence and in the past month established a so-called "military arm" of The Proud Boys.
He is opposed to feminism, doesn't believe the gender pay gap is real, thinks a "masculinity war" is being waged against boys and men, and is an advocate of violence.
"Get in trouble, get arrested, get fired. Let's all get in this together. They can't kill us all," he said in one video address.
His speaking tour has been organised by Penthouse Australia founder Damien Costas, who previously hosted right-wing figure Milo Yiannopoulos.
"There was a journalist in the US who watched three months of Gavin's recordings and came to the conclusion that the core of his message is violence. He is glorifying violence," Ms Nyuon said.
"There is a well-reported consistent history of violence by The Proud Boys. New York wasn't a one-off."
WHAT IS THE PROUD BOYS?
The Proud Boys are anti-feminist, anti-political correctness men's rights activists who rail against "white guilt" and increasingly embrace violent resistance.
While their ideology is primarily focused on the so-called war against men, Mr McInnes has expressed various views that could be described as racist and xenophobic.
Someone who wants to join The Proud Boys must first publicly declare their allegiance to the group's principles, typically via a kind of video audition posted to Facebook.
The decree is: "I'm a proud Western chauvinist who is unapologetic for creating the modern world."
That is step one of a series of requirements.
There are three other stages of the bizarre initiation process, in the United States at least, which involve being beaten by a group of members and getting a The Proud Boys tattoo, typically on the forearm.
There's a pledge to abstain from masturbation - Mr McInnes believes it clouds the mind - unless within proximity of a woman, and then only once a month.
And more recently, a fourth "degree" of initiation has emerged - requiring participation in "a major fight for the cause".
Many also wear a kind of "uniform" - a black polo shirt with yellow trimming.
A number of violent altercations have broken out across the US in recent months.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors the activity of extremist groups in America, has officially labelled The Proud Boys a hate group.
"McInnes brought a samurai sword to his event after promising on Instagram to re-enact the assassination of Japanese socialist Inejiro Asanuma by teenage ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi," the centre said after the New York violence.
"He called the killing, which was caught on national television and shocked the nation, an 'inspiring moment'."
THE AUSTRALIAN PRESENCE
Members of The Proud Boys in Western Australia recently attended a rally outside an event where One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson was due to speak.
They clashed with protesters who had assembled to picket the event.
It was one of the first signs of The Proud Boys movement here, outside of a Facebook page belonging to the Australian chapter.
That page mostly contains attacks on critics of the group, typically journalists or members of the Australian Greens.
Much of the commentary is homophobic, misogynistic and racist, with references to "Muslim rats" and disparaging comments about homosexuality.
WHY ARE PEOPLE UPSET?
Ms Nyuon said Mr McInnes' brand of commentary went against the principles of free speech being a two-way right.
"Freedom of speech is the freedom for people to discuss, debate and disagree - you can't do that if someone is threatening to kill you. That is not free speech," she said.
Shayne Neumann, Shadow Immigration and Border Protection Minister, last week wrote to Immigration Minister David Coleman about Mr McInnes' upcoming tour.
"Given the significant risk Gavin McInnes poses to the Australian community, I am asking you to use your powers under Section 501 of the Migration Act to refuse his access to Australia," Mr Neumann said.
"Gavin McInnes has repeatedly and publicly advocated for violence against women and has pledged to 'assassinate' his enemies.
"Both this individual, and the group he represents, were suspended from Twitter in August for violating the social media platform's policy prohibiting violent extremist groups."
Despite the petition's success, Ms Nyuon is yet to hear from the Department of Immigration.
Allowing Mr McInnes into Australia would "tremendously lower the bar" of the character test for visa applications, she said.
"My worry is that we will see similar violence on the streets of Australia. There are members of The Proud Boys in Australia - somewhere around 3000. I don't want to see people fighting on the streets."
WHAT'S LIKELY TO HAPPEN?
The Government has intervened in the past to deny entry to those it believes do not pass a character test. That has extended to entertainers with criminal pasts and political figures, including Chelsea Manning.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration declined to comment on Mr McInnes and calls to cancel his visa.
"All non-citizens entering Australia must meet the character requirements set out in the Migration Act 1958 prior to the grant of any visa," the spokesperson said.
"For visitors who may hold controversial views, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia's well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, among other relevant considerations."
It's understood Mr Coleman has not yet responded to Mr Neumann's letter.