White supremacist group the Proud Boys pledged their loyalty to President Donald Trump after he told them to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate Tuesday night.
When attempting to respond to Wallace's question, Trump avoided denouncing white supremacist groups and instead gave a command to the Proud Boys, specifically, who have since embraced his comment.
Since Trump's command to the group, new apparel with the logo of the white supremacist group and "stand back and standby" are on sale at Amazon. According to Mediaite, the t-shirts appeared on the site Wednesday.
"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem," Trump said.
Chris Wallace: "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups…?"
President Trump: "Sure, I'm willing to do that…Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I'll tell you what…somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left." pic.twitter.com/9gJ8qyO4hL
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 30, 2020
According to NBC News, the Proud Boys' Telegram account appeared to take the statement as marching orders. The group’s account produced a mock logo for the slogan “Stand Back, Stand By” in a short time following the debate, Reason reports.
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) September 30, 2020
"Standing down and standing by sir," the Proud Boys’ account posted. The group also posted two videos following Trump’s statement, including one with the caption "God. Family. Brotherhood.”
Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs posted after the debate that he was "standing by," ready to “deal” with the president’s opponents, NBC News reports.
"President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we're ready!!" Biggs wrote.
“Outside of the debate, Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs saw Trump’s remarks as permission to ‘ fuck up’ the group’s foes.
‘Trump basically said to go fuck them up!’ Biggs wrote on Parler, an alternative social media network that courts conservatives. ‘This makes me so happy.’”
— Pilar Melendez (@pbmelendez) September 30, 2020
Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO, said in a tweet that he was floored by the president's “astonishing” answer to Wallace’s question.
"President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation," Greenblatt said. "Now."
It's astonishing that, when asked a simple question, will you condemn white supremacists, @POTUS responded – "The Proud Boys should stand back and stand by." Trying to determine if this was an answer or an admission. @POTUS owes America an apology or an explanation. Now. https://t.co/9tgufXom9K
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 30, 2020
David French, a conservative commentator known for his critical takes of Trump, tweeted that the president’s comments were a call to action.
"In a nation wracked by unrest, that was one of the most irresponsible and reprehensible statements I've ever seen from a president," French said.
"Stand back and stand by" is not a condemnation, it's a call to be ready. In a nation wracked by unrest, that was one of the most irresponsible and reprehensible statements I've ever seen from a president. The Proud Boys are a violent vigilante militia. https://t.co/vrt3CUjFEw
— David French (@DavidAFrench) September 30, 2020
According to Forbes, a member of the Proud Boys was arrested in Portland on Wednesday morning on 12 charges, including numerous felonies for assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful use of tear gas.
In August, Allen Swinney was present at a violent rally outside Portland’s Multnomah County Justice Center, where the supremacist group clashed with protesters who have been fighting against police brutality with daily demonstrations since the death of George Floyd in May.
Footage from Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos appears to capture the 50-year-old aiming a firearm at protestors, but police have not confirmed the allegations.