Ethan Nordean
Nordean in 2021
Born1990 or 1991 (age 30–31)[1]
Other namesRufio Panman
Known forProud Boys recruiter and leader

Ethan Nordean, also known as Rufio Panman, is an American right wing political activist. He is a leader of the Proud Boys, an American far-right, neo-fascist, and exclusively male organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States.[2][3] He played a prominent role in the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, and was arrested on four criminal charges weeks later. A U.S. judge released Nordean to home confinement pending trial, citing weak evidence presented by federal prosecutors that he had personally engaged in violence.[4] In March 2021, a federal grand jury indicted Nordean and three other Proud Boys members for conspiracy.[5]

Activism

In mid-2017, Nordean started attending rallies in Seattle and Portland, Oregon organized by the far right Patriot Prayer group.[6] According to Dave Neiwert, a journalist and author who covers far right political groups, "He's particularly noteworthy for the extraordinary levels of thuggish violence he brings to these events". On June 30, 2018, Nordean and other members of the Proud Boys participated in a demonstration in Portland organized by Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer. Police declared the event a riot after violent street fighting broke out amid tensions between anti-fascist activists and Patriot Prayer supporters.[7] Video showed Nordean shoving one counter protester to the ground before another approached with a metal baton.[8] Nordean was wearing shin guards on his forearms and deflected the baton, then punched the man in the face, knocking him to the ground unconscious.[8][7] According to a police report, the counter-protester was hospitalized with a concussion.[8][7]

Following that incident, a meme featuring video of that punch went viral, and Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, praised Nordean's role in the violent episode, calling it "the turning point in our war against antifa".[9] McInnes compared it to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which triggered World War I.[10]

The footage of the incident was used in recruiting videos for the Proud Boys that featured special effects and dramatic music. By October 2019, five of the most popular videos had over 1.5 million views on YouTube.[11]

Shortly thereafter, Nordean was interviewed at length on The Alex Jones Show,[12] with the video playing constantly in the background.[11] During his interview with Jones, Nordean said "Like Gavin McInnes says, violence isn't great, but justified violence is amazing."[13] Describing left-wing counter-protesters, Nordean told Jones and his audience that "these are no longer people who are necessarily Americans, per se, but they're kind of anti-American" and "you just have to eliminate them as a threat".[14]

Joe Rogan discussed Nordean's role in the violent incident on his podcast, in a segment about antifa and street fighting.[11] Nordean was later interviewed by Alex Jones a second time.[15]

Nordean set up a private Facebook page to vet the fighting abilities of Proud Boys recruits. Despite complaints in 2018, Facebook declined to take down that page.[16]

Rise to Proud Boys leadership

Nordean leads a Proud Boys contingent past the Library of Congress near the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021
Nordean leads a Proud Boys contingent past the Library of Congress near the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021

Nordean was designated "Proud Boy of the Week" by the group's magazine.[13] On November 25, 2018, the Proud Boys released their revised bylaws on Scribd with the names of the top leadership supposedly redacted. Due to a technical error, the names could be recovered, and Nordean was listed as a member of the eight man "Elder Chapter", the top level leadership group, under his alias, Rufio Panman.[17]

In the years that followed, Nordean took a leading role as an organizer of Proud Boys events and rallies. Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, said, "He's been helping map the direction of the organization and recruiting members ... In no small part, he's been responsible for moving the group even more to the extreme far right and on a more violent path forward."[9] Nordean operated a video podcast called "Rebel Talk with Rufio".[9]

Following the 2020 U.S. presidential election

Main article: Attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election

On December 11, 2020 Nordean was on the stage during a demonstration before the December 12 Stop The Steal rally in Washington, DC, alongside Roger Stone and fellow Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio. Infowars personality Owen Shroyer also spoke to the crowd, claiming that the Supreme Court had stabbed people in the back.[18]

On December 27, 2020, Nordean posted on Parler, saying "Anyone looking to help us with safety/protective gear, or communications equipment it would be much appreciated, things have gotten more dangerous for us this past year, anything helps".[9] On January 4, 2021 Nordean posted a video on his Rebel Talk with Rufio podcast that was captioned, "Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us".[9]

In the runup to the events at the Capitol on January 6, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio urged the Proud Boys to set aside their usual black and yellow garb, and attempt to blend in with the crowd. Biggs and Nordean echoed his call on social media.[19]

Participation in the 2021 Capitol attack

Further information: Proud Boys § Participation in the 2021 Capitol attack

Joe Biggs and Nordean on Jan. 6
Joe Biggs and Nordean on Jan. 6

A video documentary produced by the Wall Street Journal showed that, on January 6, Nordean and fellow Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs from Florida commanded a mob of about 100 Proud Boys members and supporters who assembled east of the United States Capitol Building. A video livestreamer who is a member of the Proud Boys described Biggs and Nordean as "Two men on a mission, with about 500 behind them ready to kick some butt for the benefit of this country".[9]

They marched south past the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court building, and circled around the Capitol complex, approaching from the southwest. The Proud Boys contingent constituted a "a large proportion of the first wave" that reached the Capitol, and one Proud Boys member used a seized police shield to break a window to gain access to the building.[20]

Prosecutors alleged Nordean was a chief organizer of a mob of about 100 Proud Boys[8] that marched through Washington before the breach of the Capitol.[21]

Arrest and aftermath

According to prosecutors, on January 8, Nordean posted an image of a Capitol Police officer shooting pepper spray at rioters. The caption read, "If you feel bad for the police, you are part of the problem..."[22] On February 3, Nordean was arrested and charged with four federal crimes, including obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting injury to government property, disorderly conduct and knowingly and violently entering a restricted building. If convicted on all four charges, Nordean could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.[9]

On February 7, federal judge Beryl Howell denied Nordean's bail request, and ordered him to be returned to Washington, DC pending trial. Prosecutors argued that "There is no reason to believe that Defendant, or any of his Proud Boy associates, are any more interested in 'complacency,' or any less interested in fomenting rebellion, than they were on January 5," adding, "If nothing else, the events of January 6, 2021, have exposed the size and determination of right-wing fringe groups in the United States, and their willingness to place themselves and others in danger to further their political ideology."[23] On March 3, 2021, Howell ordered Nordean released to home detention with GPS monitoring pending trial, finding that though he "indisputably participated" in the Capitol assault, the government's evidence of specific acts of violence and property damage was "weak."[24] Before ruling, the judge noted that evidence clearly showed Nordean had been heavily involved in organizing the Proud Boys on January 6, 2021.[25]

Prosecutors included in a May 2021 court filing a Telegram message Nordean had sent expressing a sense of betrayal, lamenting that Trump had pardoned "a bunch of degenerates as his last move and shit on us on the way out" and "now I've got some of my good friends and myself facing jail time cuz we followed this guys lead and never questioned it."[26]

Personal life

Nordean has lived in or near Auburn, Washington his entire life. He is married and has one child.[9]

His father, Michael Nordean, owns and operates restaurants in Des Moines and Buckley in Washington state, and Ethan formerly worked in the family business. A dedicated bodybuilder, he also operated a now-defunct business in 2017 called Bangarang Elite Supplements that sold protein powder.[9]

Nordean's alias derives from a character in the 1991 Peter Pan movie Hook.[27]

In June, 2020 Nordean's father issued a statement calling his son's beliefs "misguided" and reported, "Ethan no longer works for our restaurants."[9][28] Following the storming of the Capitol and his son's arrest, he issued another statement that said, "We have tried for a long while to get our son off the path which led to his arrest today — to no avail. Ethan will be held accountable for his actions."[29]

References

  1. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (2021-03-14). "Police Shrugged Off the Proud Boys, Until They Attacked the Capitol". New York Times. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  2. ^ Kriner, Matthew; Lewis, Jon (July–August 2021). Cruickshank, Paul; Hummel, Kristina (eds.). "Pride & Prejudice: The Violent Evolution of the Proud Boys" (PDF). CTC Sentinel. West Point, New York: Combating Terrorism Center. 14 (6): 26–38. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  3. ^ Far-right: Fascist: Men only: Political violence:
    • "Proud Boys". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on October 16, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
    • Lowry, Rich (October 19, 2018). "The Poisonous Allure of Right-Wing Violence". National Review. Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2018. McInnes is open about his glorification of violence. In a speech, he described a clash with Antifa outside a talk he gave at NYU last year: 'My guys are left to fight. And here's the crucial part: We do. And we beat the crap out of them.' He related what a Proud Boy who got arrested told him afterward: 'It was really, really fun.' According to McInnes: 'Violence doesn't feel good. Justified violence feels great. And fighting solves everything.'
  4. ^ Hsu, Spencer S. "U.S. judge releases Washington state Proud Boys leader arrested in Capitol riot after prosecutors withdraw several allegations". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
  5. ^ Katelyn Polantz. "Two more Proud Boys indicted for Capitol riot as prosecutors detail evidence of planning". CNN.
  6. ^ Kamb, Lewis; Fields, Asia; Green, Sara Jean (February 3, 2021). "Auburn-area man, a prominent Proud Boy, charged in Capitol insurrection". Seattle Times. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Kavanaugh, Shane Dixon (August 2, 2018). "Patriot Prayer, antifa to face off in Portland one month after brutal riot". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d Kirkpatrick, David D.; Feuer, Alan (2021-03-14). "Police Shrugged Off the Proud Boys, Until They Attacked the Capitol". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kamb, Lewis; Fields, Asia; Green, Sara Jean (February 3, 2021). "Auburn-area man, a prominent Proud Boy, charged in Capitol insurrection". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Sommer, Will (July 19, 2018). "Proud Boys, the Infamous Right-Wing Brawlers, Head to the Heart of Antifa Country". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Jedeed, Laura (November 26, 2019). "When Right-Wingers March in Portland, It's Really All About the Clips: Screen time for Hitler?". Portland Monthly. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  12. ^ Lopez, Cristina (July 17, 2018). "Member of violent men-only fraternal organization Proud Boys goes on Infowars to recruit: Proud Boys member: "But you know, if you want to get involved there is no better time than now"". Media Matters for America. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Wilson, Jason (July 14, 2018). "Who are the Proud Boys, 'western chauvinists' involved in political violence?: Street fighting erupts in Portland, with men in 'Proud Boys' uniform to the fore. They wear Fred Perry shirts and say they're a men's club who hang out and drink beer – but the SPLC lists them as a hate group". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Keller, Aaron (February 6, 2021). "Proud Boys Spent Weeks Planning the U.S. Capitol Siege; Leader Ethan Nordean Poses a 'Serious Risk of Flight': Prosecutors". Law and Crime. Archived from the original on February 7, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  15. ^ Keller, Aaron (February 4, 2021). "FBI Cited InfoWars While Charging Proud Boys Leader in Capitol Siege. Here's What 'Rufio Panman' Told Alex Jones". Law and Crime. Archived from the original on February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  16. ^ Staff (August 2, 2018). "Facebook's fight club: how the Proud Boys use the social media platform to vet their fighters". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  17. ^ Crosbie, Jack (November 28, 2018). "Proud Boys Failed to Redact Their New Dumb Bylaws and Accidentally Doxxed Their 'Elders'". Splinter News. Archived from the original on November 28, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  18. ^ Goodman, Ryan; Hendrix, Justin (February 6, 2021). "EXCLUSIVE: New Video of Roger Stone with Proud Boys Leaders Who May Have Planned for Capitol Attack". Just Security. Archived from the original on February 8, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  19. ^ Feuer, Alan (February 5, 2021). "Did the Proud Boys Help Coordinate the Capitol Riot? Yes, U.S. Suggests: In court papers, prosecutors have painted a picture that indicates planning among members of the extremist group on Jan. 6". New York Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  20. ^ Staff (January 26, 2021). "Video Investigation: Proud Boys Were Key Instigators in Capitol Riot: The Proud Boys, a far-right group, have tried to downplay their role in the Capitol riot. A WSJ investigation shows that at many of the day's key moments, Proud Boys were at the forefront". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  21. ^ Benner, Katie; Feuer, Alan (February 3, 2021). "Justice Department Unveils Further Charges in Capitol Riot: Two men were charged with conspiracy and another with leading a mob of 100 people who stormed the building on Jan. 6". New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  22. ^ Hunter, Steve (February 3, 2021). "Proud Boys member with local ties charged for role in Jan. 6 riots: Ethan Nordean faces charges of obstructing or impeding an official proceeding". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  23. ^ Johnson, Gene (February 8, 2021). "Judge halts Proud Boy's release in Capitol breach case". Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  24. ^ Gerstein, Josh; Cheney, Kyle (March 3, 2021). "Alleged Proud Boys leader wins pretrial release". POLITICO. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  25. ^ Kamb, Lewis (March 3, 2021). "Judge orders release of prominent Auburn-area Proud Boy charged in Capitol siege case". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  26. ^ Phillips, Kristine. "'You left us': Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean slams Trump in expletive-laden message". USA TODAY.
  27. ^ Kamb, Lewis (February 8, 2021). "On the verge of release, an Auburn-area Proud Boy charged in Capitol siege instead ordered transported to D.C." Seattle Times. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  28. ^ Nordean, Mike (June 25, 2020). "Statement from Mike Nordean". Wally's Restaurants. Archived from the original on 2020-06-25. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  29. ^ Associated Press (February 4, 2021). "Proud Boys member who brawled at Portland protests arrested on Capitol riot charges". Oregon Live. Archived from the original on February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.