Bobby Bean, a member of the Proud Boys who was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, sits with the Moms for Liberty Chattanooga Chapter in Tennessee. Bean is ​​second from bottom on the left. (Credit: Moms for Liberty Chattanooga Ch
Bobby Bean, a member of the Proud Boys who was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, sits with the Moms for Liberty Chattanooga Chapter in Tennessee. Bean is second from bottom on the left. (Credit: Moms for Liberty Chattanooga Chapter)

Inside Moms for Liberty’s Close Relationship With the Proud Boys

Across the United States, Moms for Liberty chapters have forged close relationships with far-right extremist groups.

Alexandra Caballero was already well-known in Miami’s far-right scene as an organizer of anti-mask protests at school board meetings when, in August 2021, she joined the city’s chapter of the extremist “parental rights” group known as Moms for Liberty.

For six months, Caballero told VICE News that she was happy to be a member of the group. Founded in 2020, Moms for Liberty portrays itself as a wholesome, grassroots movement that is focused on protecting students. However, previous VICE News investigations uncovered a pattern of disturbing behavior by the group’s members, who have violently harassed and intimidated parents, school superintendents, school board members, and students who have stood up to them. Caballero took part in many of these protests and harassment campaigns until April 2022. 


Then, things turned sour. 

After an argument with the local leader of the chapter, Eulalia María Jiménez-Hincapie, Caballero claims that she became the target of the very same harassment campaigns she’d once taken part in.  

But the attacks didn’t just come from Moms for Liberty members, Caballero said; they also came from members of a local Proud Boys chapter. The Vice City Proud Boys were co-founded by former Proud Boy “chairman” Enrique Tarrio, who earlier this month was found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a federal jury in Washington, D.C. The alleged attacks included threats to her business, deeply personal messages referencing past trauma, and false police reports against her.

It’s not just Proud Boys that Moms for Liberty has allegedly gotten involved with, however. A VICE News investigation has uncovered links between numerous Moms for Liberty chapters and extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, sovereign citizen groups, QAnon conspiracist, Christian nationalists, and in one case, with the founder of the AK-47-worshiping Rod of Iron Ministries church in Pennsylvania. Around the country, Moms for Liberty has formed links with extremist groups and militias, which are joining forces with the “parental rights” group at protests and school board meetings, and in turn pushing the already far-right organization toward even more extreme ideology. 


“There's an ongoing campaign by these neo-Nazi groups to radicalize some of these more benign patriot MAGA groups—and it's working because I've seen more Nazi content creeping into posts from Moms for Liberty people recently,” a researcher, who is known as Trash City, and who closely tracks Moms for Liberty activity, told VICE News earlier this month.

The attacks didn’t just come from Moms for Liberty members, Caballero said; they also came from members of a local Proud Boys chapter.

Earlier this month, a day after former President Donald Trump announced he would speak at the group’s annual summit alongside fellow Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated Moms for Liberty as an “anti-government extremist” organization for the first time. 

“The group’s primary goals are to fuel right-wing hysteria and to make the world a less comfortable or safe place for certain students–primarily those who are Black, LGBTQ or who come from LGBTQ families,” the SPLC said in its report published this week.

In an emailed statement to VICE News, Moms for Liberty dismissed the designation as “name-calling” and said “no amount of hate from groups like [the SPLC] is going to stop” what its members are doing.


“The common mission”

During her six months as a member of Moms for Liberty, Caballero was involved in multiple situations where the group's members collaborated with the Proud Boys, she said, including a school board meeting in October 2021 where a left-wing activist was harassed outside a meeting for wearing a mask.

“The Proud Boys are heavily involved in the Miami chapter of Moms for Liberty,” Caballero said. "Moms for Liberty want to push their agenda with fear, harassment, and intimidation, and they have the Vice City Proud Boys as their foot soldiers.”

The two groups collaborated in Telegram chats, according to screenshots of the groups shared by Caballero and Miami Against Fascism, a group of online researchers who track the activity of far-right extremists in the region.

“They’ll create a Telegram chat group and they'll invite people and they'll do a call to action, and the call to action is usually attacking where the person works, making phone calls, leaving bad reviews,” Caballero said, describing the process of harassment.

“There's an ongoing campaign by these neo-Nazi groups to radicalize some of these more benign patriot MAGA groups—and it's working.”

In those chats, Jiménez-Hincapie can be seen interacting with Tarrio prior to the revelations in January 2021 that he once worked as a police informant about a decade ago. In one message, Tarrio compares Moms for Liberty to the “gestapo with vaginas.”


Tarrio was ousted soon after he was revealed as an informant, but Jiménez-Hincapie continued to collaborate with the local Proud Boys chapter, declaring in a message that she was “friends & loyal with Vice City.”

Jiménez-Hincapie also had a relationship with Chris Barcenas, one member of the local Proud Boys chapter who was part of the Proud Boys group that broke police lines on Jan. 6th. Jiménez-Hincapie admitted in a July 2022 Telegram post that they “went out a couple of times” over a period of several months.

Jiménez-Hincapie dismissed her group’s links to the Proud Boys, telling VICE News that “right leaning organizations congregate in common core events for the common mission.” She refused to answer any other questions.

The national office of Moms for Liberty did not respond to multiple requests for comment, including emails with detailed lists of questions about the group’s links to extremists. Caballero also sent a registered letter, viewed by VICE News, informing Moms for Liberty leaders about Jiménez-Hincapie’s online harassment campaigns and close links to the Proud Boys. She said she never heard back from them. 

The Miami-Dade chapter of Moms for Liberty has also been fairly successful at accomplishing their goals. Earlier this month, the group took credit for  filing the complaint that led to the removal of The Hill We Climb, a book adaptation of the poem Amanda Gorman recited at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, from a school library. The group has also successfully lobbied Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to include one of the liberal school board members in Miami Dade in his list of 14 school board seats he is targeting in next year’s elections.


After breaking with the group, Caballero said her business was targeted with negative reviews and threatening messages were sent to her employees; Caballero believes, based on messages shared in Telegram groups she was a part of, that the harassment came from Moms for Liberty and the Proud Boys.

Caballero took out multiple restraining orders against Jiménez-Hincapie and others who were harassing her online, and, according to Caballero, only in recent weeks have the attacks subsided somewhat.

Other extremist links

Across the country, Moms for Liberty chapters have forged close relationships with other far-right extremist groups. When Tonya Dodd posted a picture to Facebook of the first meeting of the Moms for Liberty chapter she leads in Chattanooga last month, she knew almost immediately that she’d made a mistake. “Oops, this was supposed to be on my personal Facebook,” Dodd wrote in a comment under the picture, which remains on the public Chattanooga Moms for Liberty page.

Sitting alongside Dodd and half-a-dozen other members of the Moms for Liberty group is Bobby Bean, a member of the Proud Boys who was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. His identity isn’t hidden at all in the photo Dodd posted; in it, Bean is wearing a baseball hat with the Proud Boys insignia.

Bean’s presence at the meeting was first spotted by the Chattanooga-based open source researcher known as Trash City who has been tracking the close ties between the local Moms for Liberty chapter and extremist groups like the Proud Boys. Now, the researcher, who has seen members of these groups organizing online, believes that the groups are not only coordinating to disrupt school board meetings and harass those who oppose their far-right agenda, but the extremist groups are also beginning to infect the Moms for Liberty members with their own ideology.


Across the country, Moms for Liberty chapters have forged close relationships with other far-right extremist groups.

In Florida, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, he asked Moms for Liberty member Alicia Farrant to speak about her role in getting the book Gender Queer banned from the Orange County School District.

“I knew I could not remain silent, so I partnered with my friend Jacob Engels, who is part of the LGB[T] community and also a reporter, who helped me expose the book at one of our school board meetings,” Farrant, who is now a school board member in Orange County, said at the press conference in March 2022.

What Farrant failed to tell the assembled reporters that day was that Engels is a member of the Proud Boys, an acolyte of Roger Stone, and a notorious figure in Florida’s far-right community.

When asked by VICE News about her relationship to Engels, Farrant did not respond. Engels told VICE News that he has never been a member of the Proud Boys and was a journalist “simply documenting the [Proud Boys] organization over the years.” When asked why he was pictured as part of a group of Proud Boys while wearing the distinctive uniform of a black and yellow Fred Perry t-shirt, Engels said:”I have been wearing Fred Perry for years, long before Proud Boys adopted it as a look.”


The year prior, at a school board meeting in 2021 in Orange County, Florida, some activists said that Moms for Liberty brought in members of the Three Percenters. 

“In September 2021 Moms for Liberty did bring some Three Percenters to the school board meeting and it broke out into this huge fight in the middle of the meeting,” Jen Cousins, the founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, told VICE News. “The board left the dias until everybody calmed down. But one of the Three Percenter guys came over and started berating me for shoes because I had rainbow shoe laces.” 

Many of the Moms for Liberty members—and at least one leader—also espouse QAnon conspiracy theories. Jiménez-Hincapie openly boosted QAnon conspiracies on her Telegram channel, declaring that she had “followed Q” for years. 

Esther Byrd, another Moms for Liberty member, was appointed by DeSantis to the Florida Board of Education last March despite the fact she had tweeted support of QAnon conspiracies and even flown a QAnon flag on her boat in 2021


And in Tennessee, the Chattanooga chapter of Moms for Liberty has close ties with a far-right sovereign citizen group known as Tennessee Neighbors for Liberty. Many members belong to both groups, according to Trash City, the local researcher who infiltrated the sovereign citizen Facebook group.

Responding to critics on her radio show last year, Jamie Pappu Hall, who co-leads the Tennessee Neighbors for Liberty group with her mother, denied the group was calling for violence but in the same breath added: “In fact we have people who are ready for war. Because we are in a war of good versus evil. And historically, to win that war, it becomes an actual civil war.”

In the same radio broadcast, Hall denied knowing any Proud Boys and said her group was not aligned with the militia—though she was photographed alongside members of the group who were flashing a white supremacist sign at an anti-trans rally in Nashville last November.

“In fact we have people who are ready for war. Because we are in a war of good versus evil. And historically, to win that war, it becomes an actual civil war.”


Pappu Hall did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

And in Pike County, Pennsylvania, the local Moms for Liberty chapter has close ties to another extremist group: The Rod of Iron Ministries, the MAGA-loving religious sect that worships with AR-15s, whose leader was tear gassed during the Capitol riot, and which has close ties to multiple other far-right and Christian nationalist groups.  

Rod of Iron Ministries, also known as The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, is run by Pastor Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon. The gun-centric religious sect is a spinoff of the much larger Unification Church, run by Moon’s father, whose followers were known as the “Moonies.”

At the beginning of  the COVID-19 pandemic, Moon and his supporters began attending school board meetings to oppose mask mandates and school closures. 

"I have been fighting Sean Moon's gun cult for 10 years, and now he was in the halls where my kids learn,” Amanda Pauley, a local parent and activist, told VICE News about seeing Moon at a school board meeting, adding: “It was obvious that they were really prepared at this meeting, more so than any other meetings. Every single person had a speech to read. They all walked in at the same time. The whole room clapped and cheered.”


The crowd responded to Moon’s speech, during which he called America “the least racist country on the planet,” with loud cheers and applause. One man sitting close by leaned over and shook Moon’s hand as he sat back down.

Sean Moon and the Rod of Iron Ministries did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.  

At the time Moon spoke at the board meeting, there was no Moms for Liberty group active in Pike County, but a chapter formed in November 2022 just weeks after the majority conservative board voted against an effort to ban “pornographic” books in the district. One of the leading members is Kerry Williams, who has close ties to the Rod of Iron Ministries.

Williams attends school board meetings on behalf of Moms for Liberty, and is one of the administrators for the Facebook page for the Pike County Moms for Liberty chapter. She has also spoken at the Rod of Iron Ministries events in the past and has even hosted a podcast for the gun-worshiping church that relayed parts of the church’s Sunday service. During some Sunday services, she can be seen on the altar where she is referred to as “Queen Kerry.” Williams did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment. 


And just like Moms for Liberty has backed candidates for local elections, the Rod of Iron Ministries is following suit, running handpicked candidates not only for school board elections, but for county commissioner and town supervisor positions.

"My kids have been a target. My son has been called a pedophile and a groomer. He's 17 years old,” Pauley said.

Pauley is a member of the activist group Red, Wine and Blue, and has been vocal in calling out the activities of Moms for Liberty and other extremist groups in her district. As a result, like the others standing up to the group, she and her family have been harassed.

"My kids have been a target. My son has been called a pedophile and a groomer. He's 17 years old,” Pauley said.

She also recounted an incident a few months ago with her 11-year-old daughter when they were verbally attacked by someone who has campaigned for Moms for Liberty candidates in local elections.

“A mom walked into the shop with her daughter, a little bit older than mine, and said 'Oh look the pedophile queen is here.'  She shouted it so my daughter instantly went to the next aisle to hide her face,” Pauley said. “The woman told an older couple to keep their children away from me, that I was a pedophile and groomer. My daughter was hysterical, crying. Pauley said she had seen the same woman at events hosted by the Rod of Iron Ministries.

These connections appear to only be growing. In Florida, Moms for Liberty have been linked to the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs movement; in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, the group has ties to the far-right Patriots Network militia; and in northern Kentucky, a local Moms for Liberty chapter brought in Pastor Jon Schrock, who is affiliated with the far-right John Birch Society, to talk to its members about defunding public education.

At the event, Schrock shared the oft-repeated conspiracy that elementary school teachers are pushing critical race theory. Teaching social and emotional learning (SEL) is, according to Schrock, tantamount to emotionally manipulating children. He’s also claimed that math is racist. “Two plus two can equal broccoli,” Schrock said, in a video recording of the presentation viewed by VICE News.

Ultimately, Schrock got around to telling the Moms for Liberty his main recommendation: Pastors should replace teachers in an education system that is rooted in Christian fundamentalism. “Because public school teachers are grooming your kids for sex trafficking.” 

Schrock did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

“There is a direct link between Moms for Liberty and other anti-American groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers,” Karen Svboda, the co-founder of Defense of Democracy, an activist group countering Moms for Liberty, told VICE News. “We are concerned that the connections between these groups will go quickly from acts of verbal terrorism and harassment to physical acts of violence. We have seen firsthand that Moms for Liberty will attack people and groups over social media, and these attacks almost always escalate.”