NEW YORK — Minutes after an event at a Manhattan Republican club meant to celebrate violence against leftists, attendees belonging to a proto-fascist, pro-Trump street gang reportedly pummeled three people on the sidewalk in Manhattan’s Upper East Side while shouting homophobic slurs.
Footage posted online by video journalist Sandi Bachom shows a group of men who appear to be Proud Boys — a misogynistic and anti-Muslim fraternity known for committing acts of political violence across the country — kicking and punching three apparent anti-fascist protesters as they lay prone on the sidewalk.
“Do you feel brave now, faggot?” one of the attackers yelled, according to Bachom and another journalist, photographer Shay Horse. Another video shows multiple attackers yelling “faggot.”
Both Bachom and Horse told HuffPost they believed the altercation began when three anti-fascist protesters knocked a red “Make America Great Again” hat off a Proud Boy member’s head.
But then, the two journalists recounted, the confrontation turned into a mob assault, with Proud Boys vastly outnumbering the anti-fascists.
“They turned it into a pummeling,” Horse said. “This was three people on the ground and people just kicking the shit out of them.”
The violence occurred just minutes after roughly 30 apparent Proud Boys exited the Metropolitan Republican Club, the GOP’s headquarters in New York City, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes had been invited to give a speech.
McInnes billed the event as an anniversary celebration to lionize a Japanese ultranationalist who assassinated the head of the Japanese Socialist Party with a sword on Oct. 12, 1960.
McInnes wrote on Instagram this week that he would be “re-enacting this inspiring moment at the Metropolitan Club.”
A video posted on Twitter by Fox News shows McInnes waving a sword outside the event. Fox News misleadingly implied in its tweet that “antifa” — or anti-fascists — had been responsible for the sword and the violence.
According to Bachom and Horse, some 50 anti-fascists protested outside McInnes’ appearance at the Metropolitan Republican Club. “Kill more Nazis!” they chanted at one point.
Video footage from Bachom shows dozens of apparent Proud Boys piling out of the club as anti-fascists chant after them. Cops kept the two sides separated, Bachom said. The violent confrontation occurred just a few minutes later, when three or so anti-fascists confronted the attendees on 82nd Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, she said.
The footage shows cops arriving on the scene and eventually breaking up the fight, but then allowing the Proud Boys — group members are known for wearing black Fred Perry polo shirts — to walk away from the scene.
Bachom’s footage shows them then walking through the streets of Manhattan, belting out chants of “Uhuru” and “I like beer!” — a reference to the U.S. Senate testimony of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexually assaulting a girl when he was in high school.
The group even felt emboldened enough to pose for a photo:
Asked about alleged assaults near the Metropolitan Republican Club, an NYPD spokesperson said three people — two 20-year-olds and a 35-year-old — were arrested at the corner of 3rd Avenue and East 84th Street a little before 9 p.m. They were each charged with assault and robbery. One man was charged with resisting arrest.
The NYPD could “not confirm any known group association” of those arrested, or “whether or not they attended the event” at the Metropolitan Republican Club, or whether they attacked anyone who did attend, the spokesperson said. The department added it wasn’t aware of anyone being hospitalized.
Police were also investigating vandalism at the club Thursday night. The unknown vandal spray-painted anarchy symbols on the club’s front doors, broke a window, and left a note decrying the club for inviting “a hipster-fascist clown to dance for them” — a reference to McInnes.
The Proud Boys are listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. Although Proud Boys claim to disavow bigotry, its members are routinely revealed to be white nationalists or have connections to white nationalist groups. Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year — where a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing Heather Heyer — was a Proud Boy.
McInnes, a founder of Vice Media, has written articles for white nationalist websites including VDare.com and American Renaissance. Once asked by a New York Press reporter what he thought of his neighbors in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, McInnes responded, “Well, at least they’re not n****rs or Puerto Ricans. At least they’re white.” (He later claimed to have been joking.)
McInnes regularly incites Proud Boys to commit acts of violence. In 2017, he said Proud Boys wishing to become a fourth-degree member of the group — the highest rank — had to “get beat up, kick the crap out of an antifa.”
Reached for comment, McInnes called this reporter a member of antifa, then claimed it was anti-fascists who instigated the violence Friday evening, including by “hurl[ing] a bottle of urine” at him.
“I recognized one of them,” he said in an email. “He was there an hour before the talk screaming at people. He stole a Proud Boys MAGA hat and was immediately tuned up. You guys picked a fight without the means to back it up - again.”
“Fuck around and find out,” he added.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.