Proud Boys

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Proud Boys (also known pejoratively as 'Poor Boys'[1]) is a pro-LGBT hashtag[2] far right extremist and terrorist[3][note 1] group with ties to white nationalism and a history of misogyny and glorifying violence.[4][5]

Founder Gavin McInnes announced the Proud Boys on Taki's Magazine,[6] an alt-right publication. Numerous members of the Proud Boys are alt-right.[7] McInnes hosts alt-right guests on his shows, like Holocaust-denying Baked Alaska.[8] And Neo-Nazi podcaster The Right Stuff lauds McInnes for recruiting people to the far right.[9][10] However, McInnes fiercely asserts that the Proud Boys are not alt-right[11] — and they were willing to sue the Baltimore City Paper to prevent them from using the term.[12]

Some high-profile Proud Boys include Roger Stone (a Second Degree member[13]) and Lucian WintrichWikipedia of Gateway Pundit.

Violence[edit]

McInnes frequently asserts that the Proud Boys are nonviolent. For example, McInnes wrote that "We don’t start fights but we will finish them. The violence you see in the media is us defending ourselves from lunatics who want us dead for no discernible reason."[11] However, as Rewire News notes, McInnes has a preoccupation with violence and often justifies it:[14]

The other striking thing one learns from watching hours of McInnes on his show is that he has a fascination with violence that permeates much of his material. [....] "Violence solves everything," he said on a recent episode. [....] He tells stories about his own violent fights and recently interviewed a New York Proud Boy named Jovi Val who was left with a slashed cheek and a broken nose after a scuffle over his "Make America Great Again" hat turned into a bar brawl, and who, during the show, removed the bandages from his face, revealing a gash above the lip still oozing with blood. On many episodes of his show, he congratulated Proud Boys for being involved in street violence. Earlier this year, he added a "fourth degree" of Proud Boy membership, reserved for those men who "had an extreme conflict based on the cause", as McInnes explained on a recent episode of his show.

In practice, the Proud Boys have gained infamy mostly from their violent stunts. For example, Proud Boy Kyle Chapman became infamous as "Based Stickman" for a video of him breaking a wooden stick over the head of an antifascist activist.[10] McInnes himself proudly announced that Chapman had founded the "Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights", which he described as the "military division of [the] Proud[ ]Boys".[15] The Proud Boys gained headlines when they acted as the "security" force for white nationalist Lauren Southern in the "Battle of Berkeley".[14] Afterwards, the official Proud Boys Twitter account wrote that Southern had been "protected by TheProud Boys today" and that "hearing her say 'they (antifa) can’t get to me, I’m with the guys' felt great".

On August 10, 2018, McInnes' Twitter account and the Proud Boys' Twitter account were suspended by Twitter per their rules on violent extremist groups.[16][17]

Crimes[edit]

We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell. We will kill you.
—Gavin McInnes, 2016[18][19]
  • In January 2019, Tusitala "Tiny" Toese, a Samoan-American member of Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge from a 2018 brawl in Portland, Oregon.[20]
  • On August 19, 2019, Proud Boys Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman were convicted of "attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot" outside a speech by McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City.[21][22] During the trial, McInnes was referred to by prosecutors as a hatemonger.[22] A total of 10 Proud Boys had been arrested who were at the event, 7 of pleaded guilty to charges of "riot, disorderly conduct and attempted assault", and one other is awaiting trial.[22]
  • In 2019, Buckey Wolfe, a Proud Boy and QAnon follower, allegedly killed his brother with a sword because he thought he was a lizard.
  • In August 2020, Proud Boy Travis Taylor allegedly attacked and broke the finger of a journalist (Robert Evans, @iwriteOK).[23]
  • In September 2020, Proud Boy Alan James Swinney was charged with multiple counts of assault, "pointing a firearm at another, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of tear gas, stun gun or mace."[24]
  • In December 12, 2020, after weeping at homes that their god-emperor had not been reelected president, about 700 PBs and peripheral supporters rallied in Washington, DC. About three dozen people were arrested for causing violence, and it was reported that members of the rally roamed the streets looking for fights.[25] Four people were stabbed [26] and four churches were vandalized during the chaos. [27]
  • On January 4, 2021, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in Washington D.C. on a warrant charging him with burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic African American church during the above demonstration on the night of December 12, 2020. During the arrest, officers confiscated two high-capacity ammunition feeding devices and charged him with felony possession of them.[28]
  • On January 8, 2021, the leader of the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys, Nick Ochs,[29] was charged with trespassing into a restricted building during the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. Ochs is also a member of "Murder the Media",[30] a YouTube podcast.[31]
  • On January 13, 2021, self-described Proud Boy Eduard Florea was arrested in New York City for making threats against Democrats.[32]
  • Also on January 13, 2021, Dominic Pezzola (a.k.a. "Spazzo"), who broke the first window in the Capitol riot, was arrested and charged.[33] He has also been charged with conspiracy along with fellow-PB, William Pepe.[34]
  • On January 15, 2021, the FBI charged self-declared Proud Boy Daniel Goodwyn with trespassing into a restricted building during the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. During the riot, while in the Capitol building, Goodwyn was doxxed by Baked Alaska.[35]
  • On January 20, 2021, Joseph Biggs, yet another self-described Proud Boys leader, former Infowars staffer, and an organizer of a controversial rally that took place in Portland, Oregon on August 17, 2019 called the "End Domestic Terrorism rallyWikipedia", [36] was arrested in Florida for his role in the Capitol riot and charged with obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, entering a restricted on the groups of the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct.[37][38]

Proud hazing: the circle jerks[edit]

Second Degree: You must get the crap beaten out of you by at least five guys until you can name five breakfast cereals. If you hammer out, “Chex, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, and Special K” in a matter of seconds, you’re free to go. If you get flummoxed by the punches and cannot think straight, well, sorry, you’re going to get pounded.[6]

2020 Presidential Debate shout-out[edit]

In a 2020 presidential debate Donald Trump implicitly endorsed their violence by saying, "Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by."[39]

From Proud Boys to Poor Boys[edit]

The official logo: Chicken-on-a-Weathervane

After the first 2020 US presidential debate, President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to "Stand back and Stand by".[40] In response, the media generally condemned Trump's remarks. On social media however, the concept to hijack the tag "Proud Boys" took off, resulting in various hashtags related to the Proud Boys getting hijacked by gay men,[41] calling themselves the "real Proud Boys". Notable participants include the official Twitter account of the Canadian Armed forces in the US.[42] In response, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, called it "hysterical" and said that he "didn't care who people sleep with",[41] appearing to miss the point of hijacking the name.

While calling out Donald Trump as a racist during a 2020 Presidential debate, the gaffe-prone Joe Biden erroneously — but appropriately — called them 'Poor Boys', but the name stuck:[43]

Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history. He pours fuel on every racist fire. He started off his campaign coming down those escalators saying he's going to get rid of those Mexican rapists. He banned Muslims because they are Muslims. He made everything worse across the board. He said about the Poor Boys, the last time we were on stage, he said I tell them to stand down and stand ready. Come on, this guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.

"Enrique Tarrio did nothing wrong!"[edit]

Proud Boy, just before the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot

On January 27, 2021, the chicken-on-a-weathervane did a 180°. It was revealed that Tarrio had become a 'prolific' informant for local investigators and the FBI since 2012 after he was arrested "in a fraud case related to the relabeling and sale of stolen diabetes test kits", well before the start of his tenure as leader of the Poor Boys.[44] Tarrio entered into a plea deal, and "he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes."[44] Tarrio's cooperation also included working undercover on cases involving anabolic steroids, wholesale prescription narcotics, and human smuggling.[44] Tarrio admitted to Reuters that he would let police department know about Proud Boys' plans before rallies[44] (which is sensible if one is planning a peaceful rally), but since Tarrio was already a police informant, it takes on a different character that the more violent elements within the group might not appreciate.

In the fallout from the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot and the revelation that Tarrio is a stoolie, cracks in the Proud Boys structure have formed, with four chapters disaffiliating from the organization: Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri and Las Vegas.[45] Despite this, Tarrio claimed not just that the organization was not splintering but that it could not splinter.[45]

FAFO: Fuck around and find out[edit]

On January 6, 2021, a bunch of Proud Boys "fucked around" by playing a significant role in the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.[46][47] In the ensuing weeks, the Proud Boys "found out" the consequences of being an insurrectionist: about 20 members have been charged with conspiracy and other crimes.[47]

In February 2021, the Proud Boys were declared a terrorist organization by Canada, which allows police to seize assets of the group and its members.[48] Oopsie Gavin, you're still a fuckin' hoser! Furthering their legal difficulties, the Proud Boys' ex-lawyer, Jason Lee Van Dyke, who owns the PB trademark revoked the right of the PBs to use it because of their violent actions and alleging that Tarrio's merchandise was "substandard".[49] The fight over the trademark could be entirely moot however because it could face cancellation due incorrect registration (the owner not being affiliated with the organization) or if the organization is declared illegal per se.[50]

After the riots, the Proud Boys enjoyed increasing scrutiny and elevated criminal charges from United States law enforcement as well. In court papers released in February 2021, prosecutors allege that, far from being mere participants, some of the Proud Boys coordinated and conspired certain elements of the riot, as well as obstructed and interfered with police officers protecting the Capitol. [51] In early February 2021, five Proud Boys, including the the self-described "sergeant-at-arms" for the Proud Boys Seattle chapter, Ethan Nordean (aka "Rufio Panman"), were arrested for their role in the riots on a joint conspiracy charge (with a footnote from the FBI anticipating more arrests in the future). [52][53] In addition, on February 3, 2021, prosecutors added "conspiracy to obstruct Congress" to Nick Ochs' charges, [54] adding to the list of other arrested Proud Boys (Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe) charged with conspiracy. [55]

In the short period between Tarrio's January 4 arrest and the January 6 Capitol riot, Nordean had been elected leader of the PBs.[56] It looks like the PBs will have to find another new leader due to the FBI's finding a passport in his house that did not belong to him and due to details uncovered about his communications with the PBs as to how to prevent the election certification on the election on the 6th.[56]

By April 9, 2021, the list of Proud Boys arrested for riot related crimes expanded to more than 20 in total (including two organizers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina). At least three Proud Boys (Dominic Pezzola, William Pepe, William Chrestman) faced charges of assaulting or threatening to assault federal law enforcement officers. Another Proud Boy (Christopher Worell) was charged with allegedly using pepper spray against police officers. [57][58][59] Another Proud Boy who was charged with conspiracy, Joe Biggs, was ironically a previous employee for the conspiracy-obsessed Infowars from 2012 to 2014. It was noted by the New York Times that the Proud Boys, like many in the capitol riot, used their cell phones to document their criminal activities during the coup attempt on social media like Parler, providing plenty of self-owning footage for prosecutors to work with. [60]

The Proud Boys faced additional legal trouble when, on February 16, 2021, several members of Congress and the NAACP filed a lawsuit accusing the Proud Boys (and several other prominent riot participants) of violating the Ku Klux Klan ActWikipedia by conspiring to disenfranchise Black voters via their riot participation. [61][62]. Adding to the Proud Boys' legal woes, on April 9, 2021, the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal ChurchWikipedia, one of the historic Black churches where the Proud Boys destroyed Black Lives Matter signs during a December 12, 2020 rally in Washington D.C., won a default judgement against the Proud Boys and Enrique Tarrio. The lawsuit had accused Tarrio and the Proud Boys of theft, defacement of private property, trespass, and intentional destruction of religious property. [63][64][65]

The Proud Boys had often sought to downplay their extreme elements, with McInness downplaying the group as a "men's club" that simply meets "in a bar once a month" and drinks beer "just like everyone else". [66] Although it was clears from the beginning that McInness's description was bullshit, the Proud Boys' participation in the riots revealed, clearly and unequivocally to everyone, the group's true extremist colors. [67]

Gallery[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Thanks, Canada, for this accurate designation! :)

References[edit]

  1. People embrace rebranding of 'Proud Boys' to 'Poor Boys' after Biden misspeaks by Dominick Mastrangelo (10/22/20 10:38 PM EDT) The Hill.
  2. LGBT Twitter users tease far-right group by taking over Proud Boys hashtag The Guardian 5 October 2020
  3. Canada Lists Proud Boys As A Terrorist Group, Alongside ISIS And Al-Qaida NPR 3 February 2021
  4. Proud Boys, Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.

  5. Jason Wilson, FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as 'extremist group', documents say. The Guardian, 19 November 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Introducing: The Proud Boys
  7. The fratty Proud Boys are the alt right's weirdest new phenomenon
  8. Facebook
  9. The Daily Shoah 150
  10. 10.0 10.1 Do You Want Bigots, Gavin? Because This Is How You Get Bigots
  11. 11.0 11.1 WE ARE NOT ALT-RIGHT
  12. Proud Boy lawyer demands alt-weeklies not call "western chauvinist fraternity" alt-right
  13. Roger Stone 1st Degree
  14. 14.0 14.1 How Hate Goes ‘Mainstream’: Gavin McInnes and the Proud Boys
  15. Twitter
  16. Twitter Suspends Proud Boys And Founder Gavin McInnes Accounts Ahead Of Unite The Right Rally
  17. Twitter Shuts Down Accounts of Vice Co-Founder Gavin McInnes, Proud Boys Ahead of ‘Unite the Right’ Rally
  18. Trump mentioned the Proud Boys, but who are they? “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” President Donald Trump said at Tuesday’s presidential debate when asked if he would condemn white supremacists groups. by Jeff Parrott (Sep 30, 2020, 2:50pm MDT) Deseret News.
  19. RWW News: Gavin McInnes' History of Violent Rhetoric by RWW Blog (Oct 15, 2018) YouTube.
  20. Clark County Proud Boy, former Patriot Prayer brawler Tusitala ‘Tiny’ Toese arrested in Washington by Eder Campuzano (Updated Aug 29, 2020; Posted Aug 29, 2020) The Oregonian.
  21. Republicans Are Adopting the Proud Boys: Before and after the Manhattan brawl, GOP figures defended and promoted the far-right group. It’s a valuable and dangerous bridge between fascism and mainstream politics. by Kelly Weill & Will Sommer (Updated 10.17.18 10:57AM ET / Published 10.16.18 4:43AM ET) Daily Beast.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Two Members of Proud Boys Convicted in Brawl Near Republican Club: The charges resulted from an altercation with anti-fascists after the group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, had spoken in Manhattan. by Colin Moynihan (Aug. 19, 2019) The New York Times.
  23. The man who attacked @iwriteok and broke his finger on Saturday is Travis Taylor, a Proud Boy previously identified by @TorchAntifa. https://torchantifa.org/dox-all-your-boys-part-6/ … See a comparison below between his face and tattoos between 2018 and this weekend. by @bellingcat (5:30 AM · Aug 25, 2020) Twitter (archived from August 30, 2020).
  24. Police arrest far-right protester who pointed gun at Portland rally by Conrad Wilson (Sept. 30, 2020 8:27 a.m.) Oregon Public Broadcasting.
  25. Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight by Peter Hermann (Dec. 13, 2020 at 6:50 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  26. "Four People Stabbed and At Least 23 Arrested at Pro-Trump Rally in D.C." by Ashrap Khalil, Time, 2020 December 13th
  27. "Bowser Condemns Vandalism Of DC Churches By Proud Boys" by Michael O'Connell, Patch. 2020 Dec 14
  28. "Proud Boys leader arrested in the burning of Black Lives Matter banner, D.C. police say" by Peter Hermann and Martin Weil, Washington Post, 2021 Jan 4
  29. Nicholas Ochs Ballotpedia.
  30. Journalists were attacked, threatened and detained during the Capitol siege by Brittany Shammas (Jan. 9, 2021 at 5:00 a.m. PST) The Washington Post. "'MURDER THE MEDIA,' someone carved into a door."
  31. Hawaii Proud Boy Leader Nick Ochs Busted in Capitol Riot by William Bredderman et al. (Updated Jan. 08, 2021 7:23PM ET / Published Jan. 08, 2021 3:36PM ET) Daily Beast.
  32. Man arrested in Queens after FBI investigates 'threats to Democrats': sources by Anthony DiLorenzo (Posted at 7:58 AM, Jan 13, 2021; last updated 5:06 AM, Jan 13, 2021) PIX11.
  33. Adam Rawnsley and Pilar Melendez, Feds Track Down Bearded Proud Boy Seen Smashing Capitol Window With Police Shield. The Daily Beast, 15 January 2021.
  34. [Actions by Proud Boy at Capitol show ‘planning, determination, and coordination,’ U.S. alleges by Rachel Weiner & Spencer S. Hsu (Jan. 29, 2021 at 4:23 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  35. "SF web developer allegedly in livestream at Capitol riot found, arrested in Texas" by Katie Dowd, SFGate, 2021 Februrary 9
  36. "ontroversial organizer of planned Portland demonstration speaks to KATU" by KATU News, KATU 2 ABC, 2019 August 16
  37. "Proud Boy organizer arrested in Florida for riot at Capitol", Associated Press / San Francisco Chronicle, 2021 January 20
  38. "Joe Biggs, Proud Boys Leader and Former Infowars Staffer, Arrested Over Capitol Riot" by Alexandra Garrett, Newsweek, 2021 January 20
  39. Only the Proud Boys can take pride in Trump’s debate hooliganism by Dana Milbank (September 29, 2020 at 8:57 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  40. Trump’s Proud Boys “Stand By” Debate Moment Is Snowballing by Caleb Ecarma (Sept. 30, 2020) Vanity Fair
  41. 41.0 41.1 Gay men have taken over the Proud Boys Twitter hashtag, by Alaa Elassar (Oct. 4th, 2020) CNN
  42. Our #ProudBoys Love is Love ❤️🇨🇦🏳️‍🌈 by @RoyalCanNavy (Oct. 4th, 2020) Twitter (archived from November 15, 2020).
  43. Even if Joe Biden misspoke about 'Proud Boys,' social media embraces 'poor boys' by Joshua Bote (Published 8:56 a.m. ET Oct. 23, 2020; Updated 10:46 a.m. ET Oct. 23, 2020) USA Today.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was an FBI informant: Extremist leader repeatedly worked undercover for investigators after his arrest in 2012, former prosecutor and court files reveal by Aram Roston (27 Jan 2021 11.35 EST) Reuters via The Guardian.
  45. 45.0 45.1 As fractures emerge among Proud Boys, experts warn of a shift toward extremist violence by Marissa J. Lang (Feb. 26, 2021 at 3:00 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  46. "Arrested in Capitol Riot: Organized Militants and a Horde of Radicals" By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Grace Ashford, Denise Lu, Eleanor Lutz, Alex Leeds Matthews and Karen Yourish, New York Times, 2021 February 4
  47. 47.0 47.1 Proud Boys conspired in multiple encrypted channels ahead of Jan. 6 riot, fearing criminal gang charges, U.S. alleges by Spencer S. Hsu & Rachel Weiner (March 18, 2021 at 5:08 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  48. Canada declares the Proud Boys a terrorist group by Amanda Coletta (Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:43 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  49. Proud Boys Dealt Another Blow as Feds Crack Down: The Proud Boys’ former lawyer says he’s taking the name back. by Will Sommer (Updated Feb. 03, 2021 10:24AM ET; Published Feb. 03, 2021 4:57AM ET) The Daily Beast.
  50. Proud Boys™ – far-right group's trademark could face cancellation, legal experts claim World Trademark Review (archived from January 8, 2021).
  51. "Did the Proud Boys Help Coordinate the Capitol Riot? Yes, U.S. Suggests" by Alan Feuer, New York Times, 2021 Feb 5
  52. "Five people associated with Proud Boys arrested for Capitol riot on conspiracy charges" by David Shortell, CNN, 2021 February 11
  53. "5 charged with conspiracy in Capitol riots; at least 2 associated with Proud Boys leaders" by Kevin Johnson and Kim Strong, USA Today, 2021 February 11
  54. "Texas Man, Self-Proclaimed Leader of Honolulu Proud Boys Now Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress", press release, Department of Justice, US Attorney's Office, District of Columbia, 2021 February 3
  55. "Proud Boys Charged With Conspiracy in Capitol Riot" by Alan Feuer, New York Times, 2021 January 29
  56. 56.0 56.1 Prosecutors fill in details of Proud Boys assault on Capitol: Members are alleged to have dressed "incognito" on Jan. 6, then fanned out to prevent law enforcement from identifying them en masse. by Kyle Cheney & Josh Gerstein (03/01/2021 05:18 PM EST; Updated: 03/01/2021 09:56 PM EST) Politico.
  57. "Proud Boys Leaders in Four States Are Charged in Capitol Riot" by Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, New York Times, 2021 March 17
  58. "Conspiracy Charges Bring Proud Boys' History Of Violence Into Spotlight" by Tom Dreisbach, NPR, 2021 April 9
  59. "Charges filed against Proud Boys member who allegedly pepper-sprayed police during Capitol insurrection" by Marshall Cohen
  60. "Capitol Rioters Face the Consequences of Their Selfie Sabotage" by Elizabeth Williamson, New York Times, 2021 April 6
  61. "10 more Congress members join lawsuit accusing Trump, Giuliani, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers of Capitol riot conspiracy" by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 2021 April 7
  62. Case 1:21-cv-00400, United States District Court For the District of Columbia, Filed 2021 February 16, archived at Documentcloud.org
  63. "The Black Church That Could Bankrupt the Proud Boys" by Tess Owen and Greg Walters, Vice News, 2021 April 8
  64. "Proud Boys Lose by Default in Historic Black Church" by Adam Klasfeld, Law and Crime, 2021 April 9
  65. "METROPOLITAN AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH v. PROUD BOYS INTERNATIONAL, L.L.C., Complaint, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, dated 2021 January 4, archived at Lawyerscommittee.org
  66. "Proud Boys founder denies inciting violence, responds to whether he feels responsible for group's behavior" by ABC News, 2018 December 12
  67. "Proud Boys splintering after Capitol riot, revelations about leader. Will more radical factions emerge?" by Will Carless, USA Today, 2021 February 12
  68. North Carolina ‘Proud Boy’ arrested in DC was a Marine who may have Cherry Point ties by Calvin Shomaker (Published 4:32 p.m. ET Jan. 8, 2021; Updated 12:48 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2021) The Daily News, Jacksonville, North Carolina.
  69. Insurrection at the Capitol: The man caught on video breaking a window at the Capitol with a riot shield is a member of the Proud Boys who goes by the alias "Spazzo." by Tess Owen & Mack Lamoureux (January 12, 2021, 3:38pm) Vice.