A division of the Proud Boys in Albury has resorted to harassing social media commenters and elderly residents who they don't agree with, writes Tom Tanuki.
THIS TALE ends with a group of MMA fighters hunting an elderly Albury man. Bear with me.
So, there’s a small Albury chapter of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys. It’s led by one Jarrad Searby. Jarrad runs a gym called Hard Knocks Combat. He became briefly famous in July for refusing to apply for a border permit, telling cops that COVID-19 is fake and getting arrested. After that, he tried to join the ranks of anti-lockdown grifters by asking for half a million dollars for whatever. (He got only $50.)
Eventually, he was groomed by the Proud Boys, who want to look tough as much as Jarrad wants to feel important. So now there’s a Proud Boys chapter in Albury. The Corowa RSL lets them train in their space.
A left-wing Facebook page called Anti-Fascist Action Albury noticed Jarrad, posting about him and his local business activity. They noted their concern about the involvement of the Corowa RSL in Proud Boys activity. I’m informed it was all public information, mostly posted by Jarrad to his Telegram social media channel.
One man commented: ‘They never send their best.’
Here’s a picture of that comment:
But it’s not like a random comment from a random person matters, does it? Still, remember that for later.
I understand if local Proud Boys are worried about being in the spotlight like this. There’s been talk from Labor about designating the Australian Proud Boys as a terrorist organisation in the wake of recent developments in Canada.
Through the constant street fighting between U.S. far-right extremists and anti-fascists, the Proud Boys made their name by bashing people on camera at rallies. The threat of criminal designation has hung over the group since 2018 when the FBI was rumoured to be considering declaring them a gang. After all that, the prominent role Proud Boys played in the recent attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection was too much for the Canadian Government, who declared them a terrorist organisation.
Hard to imagine that anything similar would happen here, though. Our Liberal Government is more interested in taking the term “far-right” out of motions condemning extremism. Australian Proud Boys all mainline U.S. culture wars, suffering from same nationality dysphoria as most Australian far-right types (read: they all reckon they’re Yanks). But to date, they’ve mostly just LARPed as Americans and fixated on a handful of online leftists to pass the time.
The group is smaller in Australia and has been less directly confrontational at rallies so far. Still, they realise they’re in the spotlight now and they’ve made a few statements about that on their page, insisting they’re a peaceful group. They don’t want to risk further trouble so they are being careful.
I mean, they were being careful. Then Jarrad had a great idea.
Remember Jack, the random bloke with the ‘they never send their best’ comment? They found Jack’s employer on his Facebook profile.
They sent Jack’s bosses this message:
You may ask yourself: is a comment saying ‘they never send their best’ an attempt ‘to destroy the lives of his neighbours’? Is that Facebook comment ‘a liability to any HR department’? Probably not.
But it didn’t end there. The next day, they visited Jack’s workplace.
The video, re-uploaded by Anti-Fascist Action Albury, features Jarrad and two other Proud Boys harassing staff at the business. They barge into the staff office and demand Jack is fired. Jarrad tells them Jack has been “doxxing our businesses” and is a “member of the anti-fascist movement”. It’s surreal viewing. They tell staff that they’ll begin protesting out front unless Jack is fired.
Here’s Jarrad standing in their office holding a photo of Jack’s “extremist” Facebook comment:
Jarrad later released a video saying he’d visited Jack’s workplace because he had been doxxed by Antifa. Then he explained that he makes all his business and info public so he can’t be doxxed. Jarrad, if doxxing is the release of private or sensitive information and you made all this information public, doesn’t that mean you weren’t doxxed, mate?
Never mind. They’re not sending their best here.
I want to make this clear, as an anti-fascist who is part of a network of anti-fascists: I’ve asked around. I’ve asked everybody. Asked the Albury page. Nobody knows who Jack is.
He’s not a member of any “anti-fascist movement”. He’s a guy. Named Jack. From Albury. With a Facebook account. Who doesn’t like Proud Boys.
Apparently, that’s hardline anti-fascism now. Apparently, that’s a sackable offence now. Apparently, that’s grounds for Jarrad and his MMA mates to start stalking you, threatening your boss and demanding you be fired.
While I appreciated Jack’s comment, on reflection I think he was wrong. I reckon they are sending their best. Jarrad is the kind of loser they all aspire to be in the Australian Proud Boys. And because stalking employers is never enough for these dregs once they get a taste of some likes (the workplace harassment video is popular on TikTok), Jarrad’s escalating.
How do I know he’s escalating? Well, for one, during a time when Proud Boys should tread lightly, he’s off harassing random Facebook users for not liking him. For another, only two days after he harassed Jack’s employer, Jarrad uploaded a video to his YouTube channel called ‘Antifa hunters vol.2 — at the home’ on 10 February.
In it, he visits a house of someone he says is “Antifa”. He is calling out for an “Alastair”, walking down the side of the house, peering in, banging on the door. The video has since been removed from Jarrad's own channel.
Who’s Alastair? I had no idea. But by now we know that Jarrad thinks “Antifa” is just Facebook commenters, so I checked the old post — the same one where Jack commented.
I found Alastair.
Turns out Alastair is an elderly man.
(Don’t worry, he’s fine. He’s gone to the police.)
So now “Antifa” includes retirees. Amazing! What will Jarrad Searby do next? Go “Antifa hunting” in an aged care facility? A hospice? Be glad if you don’t live in Albury to find out.
The important thing to know is that the final tier of Proud Boys initiation – the “fourth degree” – is to get into a fight with “Antifa”. They consider it a badge of honour. But now that “Antifa” is anyone Jarrad Searby says it is, including old men and random locals who don’t love him online, what’ll he do next? Can you picture Jarrad Searby fly-kicking pensioners for his fourth degree?
I assume Jarrad is recruiting young men to his local Proud Boys chapter at Hard Knocks Combat. The one in Corowa RSL.
The Albury community has a right to be worried. If they weren’t worried before, they will be when they find out that Jarrad’s stalking the elderly for the crime of commenting about him. It’s not my place to say whether that’s “terrorist” activity, but it’s rank intimidation and I would hate to see it in my town.
Tom Tanuki is an online satirist, social justice commentator, writer and comedian. He has worked in anti-racist political comedy, most notably through his satirical group the Million Flag Patriots and anti-racist group Yelling At Racist Dogs (Y.A.R.D.). You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_tanuki.
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