Fred Perry stops sales of shirt adopted by far-right Proud Boys

A man at a Proud Boys rally wearing a yellow-and-black shirt gestures the OK sign that is now seen as a symbol of white supremacy [Maranie R Staab/AFP]
A man at a Proud Boys rally wearing a yellow-and-black shirt gestures the OK sign that is now seen as a symbol of white supremacy

British clothing label Fred Perry has decided to stop selling a black-and-yellow polo shirt in North America after the far-right Proud Boys group adopted it as a uniform. The Proud Boys, a self-described “Western chauvinist” group that gained notoriety following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, also used the laurel wreath logo on flyers advertising a rally in Portland, Oregon during the weekend.

Fred Perry said in a September 24 statement: “If you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us.” The Proud Boys rally, held on September 27, was relatively peaceful as the right-wing group and its supporters encountered counter-protesters.

Dressed in the black-and-yellow polo shirts and body armour, hundreds of Proud Boys supporters rallied to end what they called “domestic terrorism” in Democratic-run Portland. The group had forecast a crowd of at least 10,000 but police said fewer than 1,000 were present.

Demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice have continued nightly in Portland since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. The demonstrations have at times turned violent, especially during the summer, when some protesters repeatedly surrounded the federal courthouse, at times attempting to break inside and even set it ablaze.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group that tracks “extremists” in the US and engages in legal advocacy, said Trump’s actions have encouraged far-right actions. “Groups like the Proud Boys have been emboldened by President Trump’s recent announcement that Portland, NYC, and Seattle will be designated ‘anarchist jurisdictions’,” SPLC senior research analyst Cassie Miller said in a statement.

The pro-Trump, pro-gun rights Proud Boys publicly denounce violence, but members often brawl with left-wing opponents at rallies. The men-only group describes itself as a fraternal organization that is “anti-racism” and “anti-political correctness”. The SPLC classifies the Proud Boys as a hate group, citing its members’ anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric.

While the Proud Boys continued to wear the yellow-and-black shirts at the Saturday Rally, Fred Perry in its statement referred to a 2017 response from Chairman John Flynn when asked if they support the group: “Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe, “No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of, it is counter to our beliefs”.

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