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Local Oregon GOP Invited Proud Boy Security Team to Guard a Secret Meeting

·7-min read
Paula Bronstein/AP
Paula Bronstein/AP

On May 1, ahead of a secret meeting to oust their chairman for being too inclusive, the Republican Party of Multnomah County, Oregon signed a contract to receive security forces from a local man named Daniel Tooze.

“We were greatly pleased to discover you, and your extensive experience with church events, weddings, and various patriotic events,” three of the party’s top leaders wrote Tooze in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Beast. “Dan, as we have discussed our focus is on having a safe event with no problems.”

But Tooze was not your average security guard, as Willamette Week first reported. He was, as a quick Google search would have shown, a prominent associate of the Proud Boys, the far-right paramilitary group deeply implicated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He has previously shared pictures of himself in the group’s uniform, with a caption identifying the group by name.

And as the Multnomah County Republican Party charted a more Trumpist path one night last week, members of Tooze’s security force patrolled the quiet residential area, where they argued with locals who were uncomfortable with their presence.

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Oregon is a frequent hotspot for Proud Boy antics—and now, at least twice this year, for collaboration between Proud Boys and their associates and local Republican parties. This latest incident took place last Thursday, May 6, when the Multnomah County GOP held a private meeting to expel its chairman, Stephen Lloyd. Lloyd did not return a request for comment, but Tim Sytsma, a committee member of the Multnomah GOP, told The Daily Beast that the party had followed its bylaws to the letter while ousting the now-ex chair.

Still, as Willamette Week reported earlier in the month, Lloyd’s expulsion signaled a rift in the party, particularly his recent call for diversity in the group. “The Chairman should promote the Party Platform, and not state [that] ‘Diversity is an extremely important part of society and diversity of ideas is what we should be striving for,’” an internal party petition read.

The petition also took issue with Lloyd’s support for public Multnomah County Republican Party meetings, due to what petitioners claimed was a threat of infiltration from anti-fascists.

“We dare not announce where and when we are meeting in the city of the original Antifa group, Rose City Antifa, which continues to actively hurt people and damage property nightly in Portland!” the petition read. (The original anti-fascist groups organized in opposition to German and Italian fascism in the 1920s.) “Stephen [Lloyd] must acknowledge the danger of Antifa attempting to interfere or infiltrate MCRP.”

Those preferences were on display last Thursday, when the party held the key meeting at a church without advertising it. A spokesperson for the church, which rents out space for a number of causes, including recently as a vaccination center, told The Daily Beast it hadn’t known the nature of the meeting when it agreed to host the event.

“What we were aware of the event on May 6 was just a policy meeting according to the paperwork,” the spokesperson said. “They didn’t mention anything about [a] Republican group. We’re so regretful that we allowed the group to use it.”

In a Sunday letter to the church, reviewed by The Daily Beast, the Multnomah GOP conceded that the church had been unaware of the meeting’s “content and activity.”

But most remarkable was local party leaders soliciting free services from Tooze, the letter shows. “We appreciate that you are a proficient, private volunteer security group with vast experience in event security,” they wrote. “We are thankful moreover that you are a volunteer security group, it is very important that we work as a teem to keep our event calm and peaceful.”

Sytsma told The Daily Beast that he’d been unaware of Tooze’s affiliations. “I don’t know the membership of the group we contracted with, but no money exchanged hands,” he said. “It was voluntary.”

In fact, Tooze is a known associate of the Proud Boys, and told The Daily Beast via text message that he did not object to that very characterization. On Facebook, he has repeatedly promoted the Proud Boys and advertised their events, often describing the group as a physical countermeasure against the left. In one representative post, he shared a picture of anti-fascists with the caption “the infection” and a group of Portland Proud Boys with the caption “the disinfectant.” Elsewhere, he characterized a Portland council member as “antifa” because she supported cuts to the police budget.

A Portland man who lives near the church told The Daily Beast that Tooze’s security force patrolled the neighborhood until approximately midnight, to the discomfort of some locals. The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal but provided video footage of interactions with the group, alleged that members had stopped and questioned one of his neighbors while she was out exercising, sparking an argument.

“They said something to the effect of, ‘If antifa shows up, we’ll know who called them,’” the Portland man said of the group’s interactions with his neighbor. Afterward, several of his neighbors agreed to sit outside “having the weirdest block party” and watching groups of three and four patrol his street. Although none wore official uniforms, he said, at least one wore a flannel shirt in the Proud Boys’ colors (yellow and black), which Proud Boys have previously worn at rallies. Footage reviewed by The Daily Beast confirms his claim.

One of the men was openly carrying a pistol, the neighborhood man alleged.

A post on the neighborhood-based social media platform NextDoor and previously reviewed by Willamette Week contains further allegations.

“The effect of this was that Proud Boys were patrolling our blocking groups from 5pm to midnight,” the May 7 post read, going on to refer to people “displaying weapons” and claiming that they “vandalized our block with Proud boys stickers.”

At least one local tweeted a picture of one such sticker across from the church while the event was ongoing. In a letter to the church, reviewed by The Daily Beast, the Multnomah County Republican Party’s new chair Alan Conner addressed the stickers.

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“Recently, there have been reports of stickers left in the neighborhood,” Conner wrote. “We are following up with both our security consultant and with members of our group to see that, if true, these items are removed.” Conner did not respond to a request for comment for this story, and attempts to reach the other two signatories to the local GOP’s deal with Tooze—Secretary Sean Yates and Sergeant at Arms Curt Schultz—were not immediately successful.

For his part, Tooze denied that members of his group had carried guns, placed stickers, been violent, or broken the law in any way.

“I do not believe so,” he texted The Daily Beast. “Those stickers were put there by people to try to make the members at the meeting look like a proud boys [sic] and that’s the way the propaganda works in Portland.” (At the time a neighbor tweeted a picture of the sticker, the then-ongoing GOP meeting was still a secret, per the group’s own insistence.) Police who visited the scene that evening found no evidence of a crime, Willamette Week reported.

The May 6 event was not the first collaboration between prominent Proud Boys or their fans and local Republican parties. In February, Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese was seen acting as sergeant-at-arms for a Clark County Republican Party meeting, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported at the time. Toese has been convicted multiple times in connection to his role in far-right brawls, including a Jan. 2020 conviction for assault and a subsequent conviction for attending a Portland rally last summer, in violation of his probation terms.

Near the end of the evening last Thursday, the man who lives near the church said, members of the patrolling group stopped to speak with neighbors who’d been watching them from their lawns. Footage from the conversation shows multiple locals telling the men that they were uncomfortable with their presence.

"I'm sorry you guys feel intimidated by people walking around your neighborhood,” one member of the patrolling group replies.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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