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Trump said ‘stand back and stand by’ about Proud Boys, not KKK

October 5, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: When President Donald Trump was asked to address the Ku Klux Klan, he said “stand back and stand by.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Trump’s “stand back and stand by” comment during the first presidential debate was directed toward the far-right group the Proud Boys, not the KKK.

THE FACTS: An Instagram post from comedian Kevin Hart last week amassed more than a million likes and nearly 35 million views in five days, but it misrepresented the president’s words.

“When trump was asked to condemn the KKK.THIS MAN SAID & I quote… ‘Stand back and stand by,’” the post read.

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It’s true Trump used the phrase “stand back and stand by” to refer to an extremist group — but that group was not the KKK. It was the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose members are ardent Trump supporters known for brawling with anti-fascists and other ideological opponents at protests.

Trump’s comments came during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, when Fox News host and debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to condemn white supremacist and militia groups amid violence in U.S. cities.

“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said. “What do you want to call them? Give me a name.”

Democratic candidate Joe Biden said, “Proud Boys,” referencing a far-right group that has appeared at protests in the Pacific Northwest.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump responded. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

Those words and Trump’s overall failure to forcefully condemn white supremacists at the debate drew widespread criticism on social media. However, Trump never specifically brought up the KKK, according to a transcript of the 90-minute debate.

Trump has said he wants to designate the KKK and antifa as terrorist organizations, though such designations are historically reserved for foreign groups and antifa, short for anti-fascist, refers not to a single hierarchical group but a range of far-left-wing militant groups.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536