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Richmond Candidate Hosted ‘Proud Boys’ At 2019 Strip Club Event

Men in a crowd
A photo obtained by VPM shows members of the Proud Boys, identified by their black and yellow uniform, posing with Roger Stone at Paper Moon in Richmond in 2019. (Special to VPM)

In May 2019, self-described ‘dirty trickster’ and Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone held a speaking engagement at Richmond’s Paper Moon strip club. 

Stone was facing a legal battle after being charged with seven federal crimes, including witness tampering and making false statements to Congress. The event at Paper Moon was meant to be a fundraiser for his legal defense. In a short video leaked to TMZ, Stone told the crowd he was facing “the greatest challenge of my political career.”

“I have an enormous task ahead of me, not only in preparing for that trial, but raising the funds...for a vigorous legal defense,” he said.

With Stone on stage were former “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis and Mike Dickinson, who was the director of events for Paper Moon and is now running for Richmond’s 1st District City Council seat. Photos obtained by VPM show the audience included members of the Proud Boys, a far-right, male-only group labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “general hate” group. The Proud Boys received national attention after President Donald Trump refused to disavow them at the first presidential debate last week, instead telling them to “Stand back, and stand by.”

Dickinson told VPM that he personally reached out to Stone to set up the event, but did not invite the Proud Boys. 

“It was open to the public,” he said. “We’re not going to restrict anyone. Anybody’s welcome to come and we had no problems.” 

Dickinson said he put together the event because he sympathized with Stone’s position, saying it was “unfair” that he face potential bankruptcy defending himself.

Kristopher Goad, a local activist who monitors right-wing groups, disagreed with Dickinson’s telling of events. Goad provided screenshots from a Twitter conversation with Dickinson’s now-deleted @BlackCat_Events account and RVADirt that show both warned Dickinson the Proud Boys would attend.

“Roger Stone used Proud Boys around him to be like, ‘I can’t be hurt because all these other men are around me,’” Goad said. “So it was no surprise that there were people in the Proud Boys circle who said ‘We’re gonna come out to this event in Richmond.’”

The Proud Boys have a history of and reputation for openly brawling with left-wing activists. At a conservative event held in Richmond last year, several Proud Boys allegedly cheered for an audience member who said he stabbed three “Antifa members” in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood

Cassey Miller, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the organization paints itself as a men’s drinking club only to create plausible deniability for the violence and extremist rhetoric of its members.

“They regularly use racial slurs to describe Muslims, they believe that women belong in the home, and they believe that some people are simply antithetical to Western civilization,” Miller said. “They believe in creating a hierarchical society where white men are at the top. This is a group that traffics in white-nationalist thinking and white-nationalist talking points.”

Proud Boys ‘international chairman’ Enrique Tarrio has denied that his group is racist, even though the group’s leaders have given platforms to white supremacists like Jason Kessler in the past

Dickinson said none of that was on display at the 2019 event. He said he didn’t witness any violence or racist comments that night. 

“I didn’t hear any racial words at all from anybody,” Dickinson said. “There were a couple girls [dancing that night] who were Dominican and Black. They made a lot more money than they usually make.”

Dickinson told VPM that he is not a Proud Boy or affiliated in any way with the organization. He is proud of bringing Stone to Richmond and touted Stone’s recent endorsement of his City Council campaign. 

“I guess, my stance on it all is people in America have a right to join clubs and organizations,” Dickinson said. 

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