PORTLAND – A self-described member of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges Thursday related to clashes in the streets of Portland, Oregon, between right- and left-wing demonstrators in the run-up to November’s presidential election.
Alan Swinney, 50, was secretly indicted on Sept. 11 on charges that include assault and unlawful use of a weapon after authorities said he pointed a revolver at a protester and fired a paintball gun and mace at people on two occasions in August.
He was not arrested until Wednesday and made his first court appearance Thursday. He remained in custody.
Swinney’s defense attorney, Eric Wolfe, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” when asked to denounce white supremacists during the debate Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump was widely criticized for not definitively denouncing white supremacist groups.
Amid the fallout, the president said Wednesday that he had never heard of the Proud Boys and told them to “stand down” and let law enforcement do their job.
The Proud Boys have held several rallies in Portland, most recently last weekend when several hundred members of the group gathered to express their support for Trump and the police and to condemn protests in the city that often end in violence and vandalism.
The Proud Boys call themselves “Western chauvinists” and are known for their violent confrontations with antifascists and other ideological opponents at protests, Members have been spotted at various Trump rallies, including last month in Nevada.
The Southern Poverty Law Center was sued for defamation after it designated the Proud Boys a hate group.
The Proud Boys have distanced themselves from Swinney, who has identified himself as a member and has a Proud Boys tattoo on his arm. Court documents show he moved to the Portland suburb of Sandy, Oregon, about eight months ago from Texas.
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