SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Since the January 6th insurrection and all of the arrests and court cases that have followed, the far-right Proud Boys extremist group has undergone some changes.
It’s happening across the country and here in South Dakota.
Former Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio will spend more than two decades in prison for his role in the January 6th insurrection. He’s one of the latest Proud Boys to be sentenced in connection with the attack. As all of the cases have been making their way through the courts, the organization has changed.
“We’ve seen a move away from sort of national organization to a localized organization,” said Ben Popp, an investigative researcher with the Center on Extremism.
Investigative researcher Ben Popp has worked with the Anti-Defamation League since 2022. He says since the attack on the Capitol, the ADL has tracked an increase in hate-related incidences, including in South Dakota. He’s also seen a push for more Proud Boys members.
“A lot of times we see them latch on to, you know, what’s sort of current in the news, what issues are being debated in the public sphere… We’ve seen increased Proud Boys activity around things like drag events, and, you know, just in general, anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations,” Popp said.
We found a recruitment site for the Dakota Proud Boys, which is made up of men from North and South Dakota. Anyone who wants to be considered as a member must enter personal information, including their address, occupation and details on their social media accounts. They also need to provide a copy of their ID and passport for background checks.
“Across the country, really Proud Boys are attempting to recruit and to bolster their numbers, and to get more people interested in what they the ideology that they espouse,” Popp said.
The ADL is tracking those efforts, alongside law enforcement agencies across the country, all in an effort to stay one step ahead of extremist groups.
We reached out to Attorney General Marty Jackley’s Office to discuss Proud Boys recruitment numbers and the state’s response. A representative from his office denied the interview due to quote “security reasons.”