Members of far-right group Proud Boys could face hate crimes charges over violent attack
Police are considering hate crime charges against supporters of a white nationalist group who were filmed attacking people and shouting homophobic slurs.
Members of the far-right Proud Boys were involved in a violent incident in New York City on Friday (October 12).
Video footage filmed by photojournalist Sandi Bachom and uploaded on YouTube appears to show Proud Boys supporters in a violent scuffle after an event hosted by the group founder Gavin McInnes at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Republican Club.
The video shows people kicked and punched to the ground by Proud Boys supporters, one block away from the event venue. The slur “f**king faggot” can be heard as the attack takes place.
The Daily Beast reports that the victims of the attack may have been members of left-wing antifascist “antifa” groups.
The New York Police Department announced on Monday that it has enough evidence to charge nine members of the far-right group over the brawl.
According to the Daily Beast, police commissioner James O’Neill told a briefing: “The video images that everybody saw from Friday night are certainly disturbing and outrageous.
“There is certainly no place for that kind of violence or disorder anywhere in New York City. We will make arrests, but quite frankly we need the public’s help.”
O’Neill did not rule out hate crime charges, adding: “We’re still in the process of investigating. We want to talk to as many people as possible before we make that characterisation.”
Police arrested three other individuals, who were protesting the Proud Boys event, on charges of assault, harassment, and petit larceny over a separate incident against supporters of the far-right group.
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has directed the State Police Hate Crimes Unit to coordinate with the FBI and NYPD on the attack.
He said: “The bottom line is that I hold the President responsible for demonising differences, fanning the flames of racism and division and creating a fire of hatred and violence.
“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 York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “The NYPD is fully investigating last night’s attack involving the Proud Boys.
“If you know anything, the NYPD wants your help. Hate is never welcome in NYC and we will punish those responsible — whether they threw punches or incited violence — to the fullest extent of the law.”
Police have released photos of a number of people wanted for riot and attempted assault.
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The NYPD said in a statement: “The New York City Police Department 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. 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.
“The NYPD will continue to work with our federal and and state law enforcement partners to keep New York City the safest big city in the nation. There is no place in our city for disorder or violence.”
The Proud Boys is one of a number of white supremacist groups to have gained a large following online owning to the resurgence of far-right politics. It is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-extremism watchdog.
Its founder Gavin McInnes, a former Vice journalist, has previously described transgender people as “gender n***ers” and “stupid lunatics,” claimed that “sexless, depressed, old, chubby dykes control the political narrative,” and insisted that closeted gay men “tend to be sociopaths.”