BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) – An Arizona woman charged in connection with the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol boasted in a Snapchat video that she was recently recruited by a Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist organization that describes herself as “western chauvinists” and has long banned female members.
Felicia Konold’s claim that the chapter recruited her and that she was “now with them,” although not from the Kansas City area, has intrigued experts studying far-right movements.
“It is ironic that such a deeply misogynistic organization has attracted someone who is a woman to join their organization,” said Eric Ward, principal investigator for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “It tells us that there is dissension in the ranks of the Proud Boys at the moment.”
Details of the video appeared last week in a probable cause affidavit against Konold, 26, of Tucson, who is charged with conspiracy, civil disorder and other federal charges. derived from the tumult.
Konold sounded almost euphoric in the Snapchat video she posted after the Capitol attack, saying she could never have imagined having such an influence on the events that unfolded that day. She laughs and refers to “all my guys, behind me, holding me in the air, pushing me back. We did it (expletive)! ”
To seemingly prove her point that she had just been “drafted into a Kansas City (expletive) chapter,” she showed in the video a two-sided “challenge coin” that appears to have markings designating it as belonging to the Proud of Kansas City. .
The challenge coin denotes membership, something that seems to go against the rhetoric about women in the organization’s national leadership, Ward said.
“The fact that he has that coin, the challenge coin, tells me that something is happening around the genre in the Proud Boys, and it’s something worth paying attention to,” said Ward, who is also the director. executive of the Western States Center. a civil rights advocacy group that works to promote gender equality.
Experts monitoring right-wing extremist groups point to the controversy that arose when former mixed martial arts fighter Tara LaRosa tried in December to set up a branch of Proud Girls on social media app Telegram.
The Proud Boys social media channels responded quickly, calling ancillary groups like Proud Boy’s Girls or Proud Girls “ridiculous ideas.” “Make no mistake,” read one post. “Do you want to support us? Get married, have babies and take care of your family. “
Alex DiBranco, executive director of the Research Institute on Male Supremacism, said there are differences between the Proud Boys chapters on whether to accept women as Proud Girls, even as the group as a whole has become more hostile towards female auxiliaries. in recent years. Mothers of Proud Boys have posted about the Proud Boys get-togethers they organized for their children.
But DiBranco said that people in his group who have worked on this issue are not yet aware of a situation where a woman was recruited to be a member of a Proud Boys chapter, which is strictly against the rules of the Proud Boys. Proud Boys.
Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that for a period of time there were Proud Boys ‘Girls auxiliary groups made up of the members’ wives and girlfriends, but they were not allowed full membership within the group. . She said that as far as she knows, none of those auxiliary groups are active at this time.
“The group has been very clear from the beginning that it is a men only organization and they have misogynistic beliefs and believe that women are best suited for housework and should act as mothers and housewives,” Miller said.
Prosecutors allege in a court docket that William Chrestman, whom they described as the leader of the Kansas City Proud Boys cell, “easily recruited” Felicia Konold and her brother, Cory Konold, from Arizona to join the Kansas City Proud group. Boys.
Neither his defense attorney nor his father immediately responded to messages Tuesday seeking comment.
The Proud Boys are known to incite street violence with counter-protesters. The group gained widespread attention during a presidential debate in September when then-President Donald Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.”
Prosecutors allege that beginning in December, the Proud Boys encouraged their members to attend the January 6 rally in Washington, D.C. A large group of them, including Felicia Konold and other members of their Kansas City cell, were captured. on video marching together and then entering the United States Capitol.
While there were many white women in the Jan.6 protests, white supremacist groups generally tend to be dominated by white men, DiBranco said. Groups like QAnon tend to be popular with women, but supporters of the Proud Boys and supporters of QAnon unite in these types of protests. The anti-vaccine movement against vaccines is dominated by women.
“Those shutdown protests exposed their members to these elements of a far-right coalition that these women could not otherwise be a part of,” DiBranco said. “Women may have gone from anti-vaxxer to QAnon and other kinds of conspiracies.”