Footage of a mixed martial arts fighter wearing a prominent Proud Boys logo and pinning down a protester was featured in a congratulatory Fox News segment Wednesday morning. But the clip didn’t tell the whole story.
The short clip that aired on Fox and other outlets—after it appeared on two livestreams and began making the rounds on the right-wing internet—portrays Proud Boy supporter and MMA fighter Tara LaRosa as restraining a violent leftist at a rally in Portland, Oregon.
But extended footage, reported by the Portland Mercury, shows the incident started when a right-wing demonstrator jabbed a pointed flagpole in the woman’s face, and continued as the woman said she couldn’t breathe while pinned to the ground.
Far-right groups like the Proud Boys (designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and Patriot Prayer have been central to years of street fights in Portland, where they’ve clashed with the left. Both groups have attracted violent white supremacists. The current leader of the Proud Boys marched in 2017’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The semi-regular conflicts have given rise to a small economy of right-wing livestreamers and internet personalities who fundraise and travel to attend Portland rallies where violence might take place. LaRosa previously used PayPal to solicit donations for travel to Portland rallies, and was subsequently banned from the service alongside other Proud Boy affiliates this summer.
Nevertheless, the Portland rallies have continued. On Sunday, far-right groups held an event, attended by LaRosa and other Proud Boy backers. According to LaRosa later in the livestream, a woman approached the group and said, “Fuck Proud Boys.” Though those words were not audible in livestreamed video uploaded by LaRosa and others on the right, that footage showed the woman standing in front of a right-wing group. A member of the group appeared to jab a sharp flagpole at the woman, who swatted it away, at which point the other person punched her in the face. LaRosa, wearing a Proud Boys jacket, can be seen tackling the woman to the ground as other people in Proud Boys attire looked on, with at least one of them holding a middle finger in the woman’s face.
“I can't breathe,” the woman said.
“I don't care,” LaRosa replied. Her group called 911 on the woman, but police did not make any arrests.
LaRosa claimed the woman bit her while pinned to the ground, which prompted a wave of right-wing social media activity blaming the unnamed woman for the “bite attack” and the beatdown.
By Wednesday, that narrative had worked its way to Fox News. In a morning broadcast, the network showed a short clip of LaRosa pinning the other woman, who was gasping for air—but not the start of the incident.
“Tara LaRosa said she tackled the unidentified woman for provoking other protesters at a Veteran’s Day rally,” host Brian Kilmeade said as upbeat music played over the footage. “No arrests were made.”