New York City officials are speaking out against the Proud Boys after members of the alt-right group were caught on video beating up protestors outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan on Friday.
The NYPD is asking for help identifying three suspects involved in the violent incident. The department released photos of men who were captured on video punching and kicking people lying on the sidewalk.
Here’s everything to know about the Friday evening attack.
First, who are the Proud Boys?
The Proud Boys have been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and have been associated with alt-right and white supremacist actions.
Founded by Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media in 1994 and left the company in 2008, the Proud Boys describe themselves as “western chauvinists.” The members of the men-only group “long for the days when ‘girls were girls and men were men,” according to their website.
But Proud Boys rhetoric goes behind gender roles. Though the group denies any connection to the alt-right, its members have spread white nationalist memes, partook in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and aligned themselves with neo-Nazis. The group has been known for its support of President Donald Trump, particularly praising policies like the Muslim Ban.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the country has seen a surge in white supremacist propaganda in the wake of the Charlottesville rally. Since the beginning of 2017, ADL’s Center on Extremism has tracked more than 900 incidents of white supremacist propaganda, including things like the distribution of white supremacist literature and the displaying of white supremacist posters.
In 2017 and 2018, there were 3,023 incidents of extremism or anti-Semitism across the country, according to the ADL.
In August 2018, Twitter suspended the accounts of both McInnes and the Proud Boys group ahead of a second Unite the Right rally in Washington. The company said the accounts violated its policies against “violent extremist groups,” Buzzfeed reported.
What happened outside the Metropolitan Republican Club on Friday?
Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes hosted an event at the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side on Friday.
Ahead of that event, the Metropolitan Republican Club was vandalized, the New York Times reported, with anarchist symbols over the doors and windows broken.
“Last night the Metropolitan Republican Club was vandalized by the leftist hate group Antifa, who also left a note promising ‘this is just the beginning” and threatening more violence,” the Metropolitan Republican Club wrote on Facebook Friday afternoon.
McInnes’s appearance Friday night drew protesters to the Upper East Side club. Proud Boy members beat some of the protesters, according to videos from the scene. In a video taken by journalist Sandi Bachom, dozens of Proud Boys members can be seen swarming protestors, kicking them as they lay on the ground and yelling “You’re dead motherf—–.” The men then chant “U.S.A.”
Freelance photojournalist Shay Horse took pictures at the scene, saying on Twitter that the Proud Boys stood for a group photo after the attack, “flashing their white power hand symbol before marching towards a downtown train.”
The Proud Boys even waited to do a group photo after the fights. They were hyped the fuck up after that. Flashing their white power hand symbol before marching towards a downtown train. pic.twitter.com/JP6jiM8Yud
— Shay Horse (@HuntedHorse) October 13, 2018
“Authorities must review these videos immediately and make arrests and prosecute as appropriate,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. “Hate cannot and will not be tolerated in New York.”
Proud Boys, President Trump spread racism, violence: Cuomo
Cuomo also blamed President Donald Trump in part for inciting the violence.
“The bottom line is that I hold the President responsible for demonizing differences, fanning the flames of racism and division and creating a fire of hatred and violence,” Cuomo said. “These vile acts of racism, division and discrimination are repugnant to American values, and have no place in our state. Why did this club invite the Proud Boys, a hate group with a history of inciting violence? Do you believe they have a positive contribution to the political dialogue at this time?”
New Yorkers have criticized the NYPD for reportedly watching the Proud Boys attack and kick protectors without taking any immediate action. An NYPD spokesperson previously told Gothamist that there was no open investigation into the Proud Boys’ actions on Friday night.
On Saturday, the NYPD asked for the public’s help with the incident, asking anyone with video or information on the violence to reach out to 1-800-577-TIPS, and for anyone who was a victim of the violence to file a complaint so the department “can bring those perpetrators to justice.”
Still, many are frustrated with the NYPD, pointing out online that there were NYPD officers on scene who witnessed the attacks.
Speaking on his “Get Off My Lawn” podcast on Sunday, McInnes justified the Proud Boys violence, saying that there was a “mob of screaming lunatics” outside the event. He also said that he has “a lot of support in the NYPD and I very much appreciate that, the boys in blue.”
Officials, law enforcement react to Proud Boys attack
Cuomo has since called on the FBI to launch an investigation into the Proud Boys conduct, and directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Unit to assist the NYPD and FBI investigations. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James also called for action, encouraging Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to pursue hate crime charges.
On Monday, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro said in an interview with NY1 that the Metropolitan Republican Club should not have invited Gavin McInnes to speak at its headquarters. Molinaro added that he had never heard of McInnes or the Proud Boys.
“I don’t tolerate or accept the kind of language or behavior he represents or that who were involved represent, he said. “It’s nothing that I would ever accept or tolerate.”
The NYPD released photos of three men they want to question in connection with the Friday night violence. The NYPD did not name the suspects, asking for the public’s help in identifying them.
Two of the men were seen on video kicking a man lying on the sidewalk, and the other was seen punching someone as they tried to leave the area.
“The NYPD continues to investigate the violent incident in the 19th precinct on Friday night, and is asking for the public’s help,” the department said in a statement. “The NYPD has canvassed the area to obtain video and additional evidence. It is also seeking information regarding persons-of-interest seen in video already reviewed. Thus far, no one has filed a complaint with the NYPD regarding this incident. If you were the victim of a crime, or have information about the event Friday night on the Upper East Side, please call 1-800-577-TIPS.”