Violent Far-Right, Pro-Trump Group Hits New York Streets, And Fox News Sees Them as Victims

A violent incident, in which members of a Trump-supporting far-right group kicked and punched people and wielded a sword on the streets of Manhattan, was captured on camera Friday, and New York Police Department confirmed that three arrests had been made in connection with the incident. 

The altercation occurred shortly after the group, which calls itself Proud Boys and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, held a meeting at the New York Metropolitan Republican Club.

Before the meeting, the club had been vandalized. Fox News, in its story on the incident, seized on the vandalism to imply that Antifa might have been responsible for both acts. 

Its story, headlined “Antifa strikes again” suggested the violence and footage of a man brandishing a sword were linked with the far-left group.

But city officials have never said the vandalism was committed by Antifa, and the man brandishing a sword in the video appears to be the founder of Proud Boys -- and one of the founders of the media company Vice -- Gavin McInnes. McInnes severed ties with Vice more than a decade ago. 

Multiple other videos and records of arrests provided to Newsweek suggest the far-right group was, in fact, involved in the violent attacks that took place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Friday.

Violent Far-Right, Pro-Trump Group Hits New York Streets–But Fox News Sees Them as Victims Activist Gavin McInnes takes part in an Alt Right protest of Muslim activist Linda Sarsour on April 25, 2017, in New York City. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The videos show a group of men, who appear to be members of Proud Boys, rushing to gang up on individuals to kick, punch and even drag protesters on the sidewalk. The attackers can be heard yelling homophobic slurs, and encouraging each other to do more damage. 

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told Newsweek Saturday there were three people arrested at 3rd Avenue and East 84th Street at the time of the incident: two 20-year-olds were charged with assault and robbery, and a third individual, 35, was charged with assault, robbery and resisting arrest. No one was hospitalized. The department declined to provide more details, but public defender Rebecca Kavanagh posted on Twitter that she confirmed the three individuals arrested were anti-racist protesters and were not members of Proud Boys.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, NYPD said it was reviewing additional video and information about the fighting that occurred to determine whether more arrests would be made. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also issued a statement saying hate would not be tolerated by the city. 

"Here's a message from a Queens boy to the so-called 'proud boys,'" Cuomo said. "New York has zero tolerance for your BS."

Just prior to the fight, the Proud Boys hosted an event at the Republican club to “discuss historical context and offer perspective on the environment that surrounded Otoya Yamaguchi," an extremist right-wing Japanese activist who murdered a politician with whom he disagreed using a sword, then killed himself, "in 1960's Japan.” Tickets were sold for $10 to $20.

After the event, photojournalist Sandi Bachom told Newsweek that dozens of Proud Boys members were escorted by police out of the building. Videos showed police trying to separate Proud Boys members from protesters who had gathered near the Republican club. Bachom, who captured the video of the fighting that appears in the YouTube video above, said it appeared the physical altercation began after what appeared to be two or three Antifa members or counter-protesters who knocked a red “Make America Great Again” hat off the head of a Proud Boys member.

In response, Bachom said the Proud Boys began "beating the shit out of them."

"It flashed me back to Charlottesville because of the intensity of this random violence that was so upsetting to all of us who were they," Bachom said. Bachom was injured during the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one woman dead after James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly crashed his car into a group of counter-protesters. 

She said police likely saw the fight because of the ongoing and nearby police escort that was being provided to other Proud Boys members. Still, Bachom said she saw no arrests of Proud Boys following the altercation.

"If the cops hadn't pulled up, they probably would have just kept going and killed them," Bachom said. 

Following the fight, a livestream video reportedly posted by one Proud Boys member showed the group boasting and laughing about how they were “smashing [their heads] into the pavement” and had just “dragged him across the ground.”

The New York Metropolitan Republican Club did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment Saturday about hosting the controversial group, which has traditionally operated mostly on the fringes of American life, or about the vandalism.  

The club’s building was vandalized prior to the Proud Boys meeting. There was also a note left that said the vandals were putting the GOP “on notice, in defiance to the policy of mass misery they championed."

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox condemned the vandalism in a press conference on Friday, saying Democrats were partly to blame for inciting violence.

"You will see this is an act of political violence done by cowards in the middle of the night," Cox said. "And all Democratic officials, whether elected or otherwise, [need] to condemn this act of violence."

But the note left by the vandals also ridiculed Democrats, calling them the GOP’s “spineless partners-in-crime.” 

The New York State Democratic Committee released a statement saying they condemned the act of vandalism, but also said the GOP's rhetoric about it was "wildly inappropiate" and that America needs "less hate and division -- not more."

Update: This story has been updated to include more information from the NYPD, Sandi Bachom and Governor Andrew Cuomo.  

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