The Proud Boys made national news this weekend as members of the far-right nationalist group were caught on video engaging in street violence in both New York and Portland, Oregon. Both fights looked brutal and similar, with young men running at each other, fighting, punching, and occasionally circling and kicking people already on the ground.
The brawls eventually ended when police swarmed in, but leaders in both cities are asking if cops could have done more to stop the violence and arrest the fighters. While officials call for investigations into the fights, the organizer of Portland’s rally is already using the violence to promote himself. Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer, released a video on his Facebook page showing him encouraging his followers to engage in violence if they felt attacked, telling the crowd that sometimes citizens need to “clean up the streets…”
The video appears to have been recorded at Friday’s rally in Portland. Gibson, a Republican Senate candidate in Washington's primary this year, is shown wearing a black hoodie and goggles while he speaks to the crowd. The video cuts to footage of Friday’s street fights as Gibson’s speech continues. Dramatic music plays in the background.
I don’t want to take Gibson’s rallying cry out of context so I’ll just publish his entire quote (emphasis mine):
“There are times when citizens have to step up and do the job that the politicians refuse to do. There are times when citizens do have to step up and clean up the streets but we have to make sure we do it the right way. We will challenge and we will instigate but we do it by marching through these streets. If they want to get in our way then they need to deal with the punishment. We’re not here to punish them. They have a right to be here as long as they are not being violent. But if they want to attack us then they are going to feel the pain, okay? Can I get an Amen?"
Gibson's Patriot Prayer group organized Saturday’s march in Portland as a response to the city's handling of an earlier protest over a cop shooting. Those protests had been framed by conservative media as being too friendly to the left. Gibon said in multiple livestreamed Facebook videos that he felt the mayor hadn’t done enough to curb the police protestor’s activities, so he organized a “flash march for Law and Order.”
A night before Gibson's march in Portland, the Proud Boys were seen brawling in Manhattan after their founder, Gavin McInnes, gave a speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club. Three people were arrested in connection to those fights, but it wasn’t clear who they were affiliated with. New York’s leaders are calling for an investigation and additional arrests. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used the opportunity to refer to himself as a “Queens boy.”
“Here’s a message from a Queens boy to the so-called ‘proud boys’—New York has zero tolerance for your BS,” Cuomo said in a statement to the New York Times.
Portland appears to have more tolerance for their B.S. No arrests were reported following the street melee, although the Portland police say they are still investigating.