At a "Free Alex Jones" demonstration in Austin they claimed was all about free speech, Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys fell back on their typical playbook: threats and physical intimidation.
Patriot Prayer, a reactionary right-wing group best known for instigating street violence in the Pacific Northwest, traveled to Texas last weekend to protest Alex Jones’ expulsion from various social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, for repeated terms of service violations. The small demonstration failed to attract any local attention, but that didn’t stop a leading figure in Patriot Prayer from trying to pick a fight.
An Infowars livestream hosted by Owen Shroyer captured Tusitala “Tiny” Toese — who is an active member of the hate group the Proud Boys in addition to his prominence in Patriot Prayer — screaming at and threatening a small group of young African American men attending Austin’s Pecan Street Festival. According to Shroyer’s commentary, Toese went after them because they were wearing Obama hats.
After a poorly attended rally of about 60 to 70 people earlier in the day, which featured Alex Jones himself as a last-minute surprise guest, right-wing demonstrators took their signs, their message and a bullhorn to the Pecan Street Festival and began, as one organizer put it on Facebook, “trolling 6th” street. Soon after they arrived, Toese, Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and others in the group began what appears in Shroyer's video to be an animated discussion with three young men. According to commentary in the video, demonstrators were upset by their Obama hats, which Shroyer insisted they wore on purpose “just to trigger you,” and they also objected to one man’s sweatshirt, which featured the name and likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I have a dream to have all-black college graduations at Harvard,” Patriot Prayer supporter Jason Lo can be heard saying on the video, “I have a dream for white genocide.” An unseen person laughs, and he continues. “I have – no, no, no – I have a dream for all police to die!”
“That’s what he said, huh?” someone asked off-camera.
“No, but when you wear an Obama hat and a Martin Luther King sweater, that’s what it means,” Lo said. “Obama is literally a treasonous bastard.”
When two of the men retreat into the store behind them to escape the confrontation, Toese flies into a rage. “You think you a badass? You think you a badass? Get out here!” he yells. “Why you standing there like a little bitch? Bring your ass here, then! Let’s see, let’s see who the little bitch is!”
Gibson reached for Toese’s shoulder, and a demonstrator said, “We come in peace, guys,” but Toese thundered on.
“You won’t survive in my world, boy!” he roared. “You won’t survive in my world!”
“I’ll blow through your fuckin window!” he said, and then two police officers intervened and removed him from the fray.
Toese, who stands at 6 foot 3 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, has developed a reputation for responding with explosive anger when confronted with opposing views. At a Patriot Prayer rally in May 2017, he was caught on video punching a man half his size in the face. Later that summer, he caught a disorderly conduct citation from Portland police for brawling at another protest, and later failed to appear in court on the misdemeanor. In December 2017, he was arrested at yet another demonstration on charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and assault. This June, he and Donovon Flippo, fellow member of the Proud Boys, allegedly violently confronted a man at a Portland area mall. According to the accuser, the men called him a “faggot,” and then Toese punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
A man like Toese may seem out of place with a group that claims to “come in peace.” But when Patriot Prayer holds a demonstration, the outcome is rarely peaceful, and Toese is far from the only one throwing punches. Ethan Nordean, aka Rufio Panman, achieved a dubious celebrity on the radical right last June for his participation in an extremely violent Patriot Prayer rally during which one counter-protester was attacked by a group of men, suffering a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage. Elsewhere that day, Nordean, who is also a member of the Proud Boys (and was wearing the trademark Fred Perry polo for this particular display of violent extremism), decked a man so hard in the face that he apparently knocked him unconscious.
At the Austin rally this weekend, Toese recalled Nordean’s punch fondly and in vulgar detail. “This fool, he literally turned fruit into vegetable that day,” Toese said. “It was amazing!”
Toese went on to articulate Patriot Prayer’s philosophy on free speech far more sincerely than any of his comrades, who prefer lofty platitudes about patriotism and the Constitution.
“My daddy always tell me, you know, ‘If you can’t talk sense into them, smack some sense into them,’” he said.
“Shout out to all my Proud Boys over here,” he continued. “Proud of your boy! Uhuru!”