Proud Boys and far-right skinheads were caught on video singling out and attacking protesters in New York City Friday night.
In one video, a far-right assailant in a group of at least 15 screams, “F-----!” as he kicks a person lying curled up on the pavement. In another, the men cheer and gloat as they leave the scene of the mob assault. One yells a Proud Boys motto, “F--- around, find out!” and says, “Dude, I had one of their f------ heads, and I was just f------ smashing it in the pavement!”
“That son of a b----!” the man says of his beating victim. “He was a f------ foreigner.”
At least three skinheads were among the crowd of Proud Boys. Joe Bola and Dennis Davila are members of 211 Bootboys, an ultranationalist far-right skinhead crew based mostly in the New York metropolitan area. The crew has often shared space with neo-Nazi racist skinheads, most frequently at hate music shows. In addition to his membership in the 211 Bootboys, Davila runs a hate music company called United Riot Records (URR). Bola was photographed wearing a URR shirt Friday night. The third skinhead at the New York scene, known only as “Irv,” has belonged to a crew of primarily Latino skinheads called B49, or “Battalion 49.” Irv attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville as a member of the Proud Boys-affiliated group the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights.
The assaults came after Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes wrapped up remarks at the Metropolitan Republican Club located on the Upper East Side in New York. McInnes brought a samurai sword to his event after promising on his Instagram page to reenact the assassination of Japanese socialist Inejiro Asanuma by teenage ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi. He called the killing, which was caught on national television and shocked the nation, an “inspiring moment.”
Both the Proud Boys and the 211 Bootboys have repeatedly engaged in violence against their political opponents. In the Pacific Northwest, multiple members of the Proud Boys have been celebrated for assaults, and the highest “degree” of Proud Boy membership is awarded to those who have fought with a left-wing protester.
They don’t necessarily contain their violent impulses to confronting aggressive antifascists. Last month, Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese traveled to Austin, Texas, for a rally. While there, he threatened to attack a group of young men who were attending the local Pecan Street Festival. The altercation began because the far-right group was upset at the Obama hats the men were wearing.
On the streets of Portland Saturday, just a day after the New York attacks, Toese assaulted a counter-protester. Local Portland journalist Mike Bivins wrote, “Tiny started pummeling a dude and then more ran up to stomp him out.”
Last year, a group of 211 Bootboys assaulted two brothers in Manhattan. The police recovered bloodied brass knuckles and reported that the skinheads brandished a knife in the attack, but McInnes took to Twitter to defend the violent skinheads and smear the victims as liars.
“I found the brothers who made up that story about being attacked by skinheads,” McInnes tweeted, along with the brothers’ names. “They said the skinheads had brass knuckles and were waving a knife around. All lies.”
McInnes took a picture with Bola at an anti-Muslim rally in 2017. Bola posed flashing a hand sign for the 211 Bootboys.
In May, members of Atalante, a Canadian ultranationalist group whose leader has maintained close ties to the 211 Bootboys, donned masks and invaded an office of VICE News in Montreal to intimidate journalists there. In California, the Proud Boys have attended rallies held since the election of President Trump with other violent extremist groups, like Rise Above Movement (RAM). Four members of RAM were recently arrested and indicted in Charlottesville for traveling to Virginia and conspiring to commit violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.
The Friday attack in New York and Saturday night brawl in Portland involving the pro-Trump Proud Boys came one week after President Trump at a rally in Topeka, Kansas, characterized Democrats as an “angry left-wing mob” that has “become too extreme and too dangerous to govern.” The events also unfolded three days after USA Today published an opinion article by Trump in which he wrote, “If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America…Every single citizen will be harmed by such a radical shift in American culture and life.”
The New York Police Department arrested three left-wing protesters Friday, but none of the skinheads or Proud Boys involved in the assaults captured on video are currently in custody. Police told the New York Times they were reviewing footage to “determine if other crimes were committed.”
Photo by Sam Costanza for NY Daily News via Getty Images