Members of a far-right group called the “Proud Boys” got in a violent encounter on the streets of New York on Friday night after a speech from the group’s leader Gavin McInnes, with videos showing more than a dozen members of the group kicking and punching people on the ground.
Dressed in their uniform—black polo shirts with yellow piping—the Proud Boys can be seen stomping on a person on the ground near Third Avenue and 83rd Street on the east side of Manhattan. A person can be heard yelling “faggot” during the violence, according to video taken by filmmaker Sandi Bochum.
Three men, all from New York, were charged as a result of the clash for allegedly taking a backpack with a wallet inside from 30-year-old New Jersey man, the NYPD said.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak said officers were keeping watch over a peaceful protest outside an event featuring the Proud Boys leader when several officers leaving the scene came across an assault under way.
But videos posted online from the brawl show a much different scenario. Authorities said investigators were reviewing videos and evidence to piece together what happened and determine if other crimes were committed, and if so, identify the suspects and make additional arrests.
Lawmakers including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the NYPD to do a through investigation, with Cuomo offering his own tough talk in a statement: “Hate cannot and will not be tolerated in New York. Here's a message from a Queens boy to the so-called ‘proud boys’—NY has zero tolerance for your bs.”
It’s not clear whether those arrested were Proud Boys or left-wing antifascist “antifa” there to protest their event, but a senior staff attorney at Legal Aid Society in the city, which often defends protestors who are arrested among other pro-bono clients, tweeted that she “confirmed the people arrested are anti-racist protestors.”
The three men—Finbarr Slonim, 20; Kai Russo, 20; and Caleb Perkins, 35—were each charged with assault, harassment, and petit larceny. Perkins was also charged with resisting arrest. All were arraigned Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court and released on their own recognizance.
According to court documents, the victim, who has not been identified, told police that the three men tried to take his backpack and that when he tried to take it back, all three began punching him, striking him several times in the face.
The violence is the latest involving the the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s club whose members describe themselves as “Western chauvinists.”
The Proud Boys had gathered for the speech from McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club. He was described on the club's Facebook page as the “Godfather of the Hipster Movement” and “one of Liberty’s Loudest Voices!”
Ahead of the event, the GOP clubhouse had been vandalized, apparently by antifa.
McInnes claimed on Instagram that the event would feature a recreation of the 1960 assassination of Japanese socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma. Video of Asanuma’s gruesome on-stage slaying during a speech, which was carried out by a nationalist teenager stabbing him with a traditional sword, is a popular clip on far-right internet forums. McInnes arrived at the event brandishing a sword, in apparent reference to Asanuma’s murder.
It’s unclear what precipitated the violence after the speech. After the incident, Proud Boys started chanting “uhuru”—the group’s slogan—and posed for a group picture.
This isn’t the first time Proud Boys have been connected with violence. A former Proud Boy planned the fatal 2017 white supremacist march on Charlottesville, and Proud Boys have been accused of attacks in the Pacific Northwest.
Proud Boys follow a number of bizarre rules imposed by McInnes, including restrictions on how much they can masturbate and a ritual in which members are “beaten in” to the club while shouting the names of cereal brands.