On Friday, October 12th, following a speech by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City, members of the far-right men’s group violently beat three apparent protestors, reports Buzzfeed News. According to the Daily Beast, the NYPD has enough evidence to charge nine members of the right-wing group, as well as three protesters, with rioting, assault, and/or attempted assault.
According to a local photojournalist, Shay Horse, who filmed a widely circulated video of the incident, approximately 30 members of the group participated in the alleged assault, after being escorted out of the club along with other event attendees by members of the NYPD.
“There was a big group of like 30 of them, and they came out grunting … trying to hype each other up,” Horse told Buzzfeed News. He said the police didn’t ask the crowd to disperse and shortly thereafter, the melee began, allegedly after a protestor knocked a hat off one Proud Boy’s head. Horse saw “two or three bodies on the ground” being kicked and pummeled by the group.
“I heard them screaming and swearing at some guy on the ground,” Horse said. “They were beating the shit out of him and kicking him in the head. One guy had his foot on the guy’s neck. … One dude started screaming, ‘Do you feel brave now, faggot?’ … It was just a pummeling — it wasn’t really a fight, because the three people never really got a chance to even stand up.”
Video taken by freelance reporter Sandi Bachom shows an NYPD officer arrive at the scene on a scooter while the assault is still taking place, seeming to show little urgency about breaking up the violence. The video corroborates Horse’s account to Buzzfeed News that the officer “just went totally slack-jawed and stared at the fight,” and it wasn’t until he yelled at him “Do something!” that the officer dismounted his bike and ““ran into the crowd flailing his arms saying, ‘That’s enough, that’s enough.’”
The video also shows other officers arriving while the Proud Boys are still on the scene, yet moments later, the group of men walks away, clapping and whooping. (Police told the Daily Beast that none of the victims or protesters, who police described as antifa, wanted to speak to the authorities.)
Three other people who were protesting the event were arrested by the NYPD that night, but for a separate incident.
The Proud Boys are a far-right “pro-Western fraternal organization” that was started in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, a former founder of VICE turned right-wing commentator on Fox News who was hosting his own conservative radio show at the time. The group’s name is a direct reference to the song “Proud of Your Boy,” a deep cut from Disney’s Aladdin soundtrack, which McInnes heard at a children’s recital and interpreted as a “fake, humble, and self-serving” attempt to make boys apologize for being boys. The Proud Boys pride themselves on being ”Western Chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world,” as McInnes told Bedford + Bowery in 2016. While the group accepts gay and minority members, McInnes and the group have espoused racist, anti-immigrant views, and frequently are aligned with neo-Nazi groups.
During his speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club, McInnes reenacted the samurai sword assassination of Japanese socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma, which he called an “inspiring moment.” McInnes wasn’t present for the violent incident after the event, having been whisked away immediately after his speech.
Reached for comment by Rolling Stone, the NYPD issued the following statement, along with fliers seeking information about three of the individuals seen in videos from the assault:
“The NYPD continues to investigate the violent incident in the 19th precinct on Friday night, and is asking for the public’s help. 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.”