Clashes broke out on the streets of Manhattan allegedly involving the Proud Boys after the Metropolitan Republican Club of New York invited its founder Gavin McInnes to speak. Videos spread quickly on Twitter showing fights in the streets. Who instigated the violence was a matter of heated dispute on social media; Proud Boys opponents said the Proud Boys acted violently, and Proud Boys supporters on Twitter blamed Antifa.
The New York Police Department released photos of “persons of interest.” According to ABC7, ” two of the men were observed kicking a victim lying on the sidewalk, and one was observed punching a victim as he tried to run away.”
The New York Police Department released a statement on the situation on October 13, 2018.
Last night, police officers from the 19th Precinct and the Strategic Response Group were assigned to a protest at 122 East 83rd Street to ensure the event was peaceful and that individuals had the ability to safely protest. There were no incidents at that location. When the protest was over, several police officers leaving the event observed an assault happening several blocks away at 84th Street and 3rd Avenue. Police officers immediately engaged the group. Three people were charged with assault. The victim refused medical attention and is speaking with investigators. The NYPD is also currently reviewing additional video and other evidence from events last night to determine if other crimes were committed and, if so, identify those perpetrators and make further arrests as warranted. The NYPD encourages anyone who may have information or video about incidents related to last night’s event to contact the police immediately in order to aid ongoing investigations. That number is 1-800-577-TIPS. There is no tolerance for violence anywhere in New York City, and the NYPD will do everything in its power to ensure public safety.
“Oh my God, no,” says the person filming this scene in the video below, as people rush down the street. “Walk away,” people shout. Be aware that some of the language in the videos is graphic. The October 12, 2018 event that sparked the unrest was an invite by the Metropolitan Republican Club to host McInnes. A Facebook event page described that talk this way: “Banned from Twitter – this Godfather of the Hipster Movement has taken on and exposed the Deep State Socialists and stood up for Western Values.”
Some people on Twitter labeled what they saw on the streets a “mob assault” or the Proud Boys instigating violence. One observer wrote, “This is one of those nights where things seem even more f*cked up when editing/reviewing my photos. It wasn’t until I wanna editing that I realized how many fights were happening at once.” An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist they have “no reference to Proud Boys” in any police reports from the evening.
However, others painted it very differently. Christopher Wright shared a Facebook Live video and wrote, “Leaving the Gavin McInnes event at the Metropolitan Republican club in Manhattan. Which was a very peaceful gathering by the way. Than approximately about 50 ANTIFA were waiting outside when we left!? They followed us for a block than jumped us. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out to good for the Beta Liberals ??♂️ #ProudBoys #BeerForKavanaugh?” However, the video was later deleted by Facebook. This tweet contains an excerpt from it, though:
In the longer video, this can be heard: “I had one of their heads and I was just smashing it into the pavement! I ripped that motherf*cker’s mask off and kicked him right in the head! That son of a b*tch! He’s a f*cking foreigner!” according to Gothamist, which says the Proud Boys in the video were also chanting “I like beer” in apparent reference to the Justice Kavanaugh hearings.
Wright also wrote, “Hanging out with Gavin McInnes and a few of the Proud boys kicking out that PURE Americana ????.” Five hours before, he shared a news story about Hillary Clinton requesting that her security clearance be revoked, writing, “Here we go fellow Deplorables heads are about to roll MAGA ????.” A post a few hours before that showed Donald Trump with BET’s founder and read, “You’re a brainwashed Liberal if you still buy into the Trump is racist narrative. #WakeUp.” He also posted before the event: “At the Metropolitan Republican Club once again! The first time to hear WalkAway founder Brandon Straka, this time to hear Gavin McInnes speak. ANTIFA is supposed to be showing up afterwards lol. We’ll see about that anyway I’m looking forward to hearing what Gavin has to say ????.”
Rebecca Kavanaugh, an attorney for The Legal Aid Society, wrote on Twitter, “Reports say NYPD have arrested 3 people in connection w/ the violent attacks by Proud Boys on anti-racist protestors in NYC tonight. But the 3 people are anti-racist protestors NOT Proud Boys.” This information had not yet been confirmed by police.
A photo also emerged on Twitter that people claimed showed Proud Boys in a group photo using white power symbols.
In the hours before the event, Gothamist reported that the windows of “the GOP’s Manhattan clubhouse” were smashed and someone “scrawled anarchist symbols on its doors, then left a note putting the establishment ‘on notice’ for its decision to host” McInnes. Police were searching for those vandals.
Christopher Mathis, national reporter for The Huffington Post, wrote, “If U.S. media were describing an event like this in another country, it’d be written as a ‘violent pro-Trump street gang’ or a ‘fascist gang.’ Yet outlets here will still describe the Proud Boys as a ‘right-wing group’ & its founder, Gavin McInnes, as a mere ‘provocateur.'”
One Twitter user wrote, “Proud boys jumped on the train about 45 minutes ago. They were going to a bar in the east village. Didn’t follow them onto the train, so I’m guessing we might hear about more fights tonight.”
The Proud Boys website labels the group “a men’s organization founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. McInnes has described the Proud Boys as a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”
This video shows McInnes explaining the Proud Boys’ origins.
However, others have criticized the Proud Boys. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Proud Boys “adamantly deny any connection to the racist ‘alt-right,’ insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an ‘anti-political correctness’ and ‘anti-white guilt’ agenda.” (McInnes has previously denied being a white supremacist, Gothamist reports.) SPLC claims that some Proud Boys members “regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.” McInnes has written articles headlined things like “The Trouble With Islam: Inbreeding.” He wrote a post criticizing the fact rappers can use the N word without criticism.
Fox News wrote this, but people challenged its accuracy on Twitter. However, it speaks about the earlier vandalism not the street unrest that came after the event (Gothamist reported that the vandalism report came in around 2 a.m. Friday).
A man named Kieran claimed on Twitter:
Ian Reilly, chair of the Republican club board that invited McInnes to talk, defended that decision to Gothamist before the event, saying, “He is part of the right. We promote people and ideas of all kinds from the right. We’re open to different views. We would never invite anyone who would incite violence.”
On Instagram, McInnes wrote about the event, “On October 12th, 1960, Otoya Yamaguchi assassinated the head of the Japanese Socialist Party using a samurai sword. On October 12th, 2018, me and @thatjaprican will be re-enacting this inspiring moment at the Metropolitan Club. See bio for tickets.”
One site, tweeting as The Hardcore American Patriot, wrote, “Antfia (sic) jumps patriots and Proud Boys after Gavin McInnes event in New York but didn’t turn out to (sic) good for the beta liberals.”
A self-described Alt-left site shared video and criticized the Proud Boys. One person, tweeting as It’s the Bribes Again, wrote on Twitter, “To all the Proud Boy fascist a-holes: I’m armed, I will gut you if you do this anywhere near me, to defend myself and others. Obviously, too many cops admire and are probably Proud Boy members. They can’t be relied on.”
A person tweeting as Outlaw 09 wrote, “When an organized group of violent far-right fascists singles out and attacks individual protesters, that’s not a ‘fight.’ It’s called gang violence. . And when you do it while yelling homophobic slurs, as the Proud Boys did tonight, it’s also called a hate crime.”