A chapter leader in the far-right Proud Boys extremist gang was arrested on Monday and charged with assault in Akron, Ohio, after he was recorded shouting racial epithets at a Black woman and then sucker-punching her in the face.
WARNING: This story and the accompanying video below contain graphic violence and racist language.
A man police identified as Andrew Walls, 26, was caught on video outside a bar in the early hours of Sunday, stumbling and scuffling with other patrons while spewing a torrent of racial slurs. His victim, 23-year-old Cameron Morgan, was passing by with a friend when she heard Walls and others around him screaming “Fucking niggers.”
She later told her father that she confronted Walls after realizing she was the only Black person around.
“We were like ... ‘You can’t say that. That’s not OK,’” she told her dad, local teacher and former sportswriter David Lee Morgan Jr., who recorded the conversation and provided a transcript to HuffPost.
Video taken by Cameron Morgan’s friend shows what happened next: Walls squares up, points his finger at Morgan, and repeats the racist slur, adding: “Bitch, shut your mouth.” He then cocks his right fist and punches her directly in the face, the impact of which releases a blood-curdling pop.
Morgan was treated for a concussion.
Walls kept going after the recording ended, and dragged Morgan into the street by her hair, her father said. She was shaken up, he said, and left the scene without initially calling police.
But once the video began to make the rounds on social media Sunday, activists quickly identified the assailant as Walls. They also unearthed a previous story about him in the local Akron Beacon Journal, which identified him as the vice president of the Akron-Canton chapter of the Proud Boys.
Though Walls wasn’t wearing his Proud Boys uniform — a black and yellow Fred Perry polo — during the assault, his membership in the gang suggests a predisposition for violence and bigotry. The Proud Boys, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and a terrorist organization by Canada, have close ties to white supremacist groups and other extremists, and violence is literally written into their rules. (The gang’s highest rank, known as the Fourth Degree, is given only to members who commit a significant act of violence “for the cause.”)
Walls’ chapter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reached by phone Sunday, David Morgan’s voice trembled as he recalled waking up to see a video on his phone of his daughter being assaulted.
“Soon as we saw it, I was in tears,” he said. “I just cried, because, I just watched somebody punch my daughter, who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Morgan said his daughter went to an urgent care clinic and was treated for a concussion after she saw stars and blacked out. Her face swelled up temporarily, to the point where she couldn’t move her jaw.
“She couldn’t really open up her mouth to eat,” he said.
Walls was taken into custody on Monday, charged with possessing a firearm while intoxicated and assault. The severity of Morgan’s injuries may lead to his assault charge being upgraded to a felony, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Akron police are considering an added ethnic intimidation charge and are reportedly in contact with the FBI to determine whether to classify the attack as a hate crime. Additionally, police said Walls attacked another woman at the scene and is expected to face additional charges for that crime.
David Morgan said the revelation of Walls’ Proud Boys affiliation changed everything for him. He said he was aware of the gang and the national tour of political violence they’d been on since their founding in 2016, but he “never thought it would hit home until today.”
“This changes a lot for me, in the sense that, I want to get involved now,” he said. “This happening was time for me to wake the hell up. And I hate that my daughter had to suffer that for me to wake the hell up.”