Far-right Proud Boys Among Mob Confronting Nancy Pelosi, Drawing Republican Condemnation

Republican lawmakers have distanced themselves from far-right "fraternal organisation" the Proud Boys, after members aggressively heckled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at an event in Florida.

California Democrat Pelosi was visiting an event in Coral Gables Wednesday in support for Donna Shalala, who is the party's candidate for the state's District 27.

In footage that has since emerged online, demonstrators can be heard confronting Pelosi, heckling her with insults including "piece of shit" and "fucking communist." Having filmed Pelosi entering a building escorted by her staff, one protester shouts: "Open up, it's the Proud Boys in here."

In pictures of protesters at the gathering posted on Twitter by Politico reporter Marc Caputo, one man holds a Proud Boys flag, while others wear the polo shirts with yellow piping adopted as uniforms by the group.

The Proud Boys are a far-right male-only group founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder and right-wing provocateur Gavin McInnes. The organisation has been designated an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Members of the group were arrested by the NYPD after an attack on a protester at a Republican Party event in New York last week.

According to emails posted online and obtained by The Washington Post, the protest was organised by Miami-Dade County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Diaz, who in a statement apologised for letting his "emotions get the best of me" during the protest, and distanced himself from other protesters who "came with a different agenda."

Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, in a statement called on Republicans to condemn the group. He blamed President Donald Trump and Republican congress members for stoking the "flames of incivility, intolerance and aggression."

"It is deeply sad but unsurprising that we now see that ugliness rearing its head. It is stunning that Republicans have the gall to call courageous survivors of sexual assault a 'mob,' at the same time they incite and condone violent actions like this," Hammill said. "Republicans must condemn this vile and dangerous conduct, and stop the reckless and dangerous rhetoric that encourages it."

On Saturday, Florida Republican Senator Marc Rubio condemned the protest. "You are not helping the cause of anti-communism if you behave like the repudiation mobs Castro has long used in Cuba," Rubio wrote in a tweet. "Not sure who was behind this behavior but you should have protested Pelosi campaign stop without borrowing the tactics of left-wing mobs."

Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana also disavowed the group. "I don't agree with Nancy Pelosi's agenda, but this is absolutely the wrong way to express those disagreements," Scalise wrote in a tweet. "If you want to stop her policies, don't threaten her, VOTE! That's how we settle our differences."

Republicans and Democrats have accused each other of inciting supporters to harass opponents, with President Trump at a rally in Nevada on Saturday describing Democrats as an "angry, ruthless, unhinged mob."