Gov. Cuomo blasts President Trump, Republicans in Manhattan protest clash
Local elected officials speak out against hate crimes
Gov. Andrew Cuomo questioned Sunday why state Republicans would have invited the founder of a far-right group to speak in Manhattan, and he blamed them and President Donald Trump for violent clashes that took place after the speech.
In a conference call with reporters, the Democratic governor called the invitation to Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes to speak at the Metropolitan Republican Club a “political tactic, because what they’re trying to do is fire up their base” ahead of the midterm elections.
“Why would the Republican Party at their main club invite the Proud Boys?” Cuomo asked, pointing out that they have been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Proud Boys is made up of males who describe themselves as “western chauvinists.”
The state Republican Party called Cuomo’s comments “outrageous.”
The Republican Club had been vandalized ahead of the speech, with officials saying the damage included smashed windows, a spray-painted door and a keypad lock covered in glue. A note left at the scene claimed that the damage was “just the beginning.”
In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Jessica Proud said, “It’s unconscionable that when Republicans were attacked and threatened, Governor Cuomo said absolutely nothing. Violence of any kind has no place in society, yet the governor — who is charged with ensuring everyone’s personal safety and property is protected — only thinks those rights should be afforded to Democrats. It’s not surprising coming from the man who said conservatives have no place in the state, but it’s nonetheless outrageous.”
Cuomo said he had directed the state police to assist the New York Police Department in a probe of the violence that took place Friday night between the Proud Boys and those protesting the speech.
Three protestors from left wing militant group Antifa — Finbarr Slonim, 20, and Caleb Perkins, 35, of Manhattan and Kai Russo, 20, of Brooklyn — were arrested on assault charges following brawls after the event.
Elected officials were outraged over videos posted online of the violence, saying they showed Proud Boys members were involved as well, and should face consequences.
Slonim, Perkins and Russo were released without bail on Saturday.
Cuomo said he had also requested the FBI to assist.
Other local elected officials have joined Cuomo in calling for an investigation and arrests following Friday’s assault.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James of Brooklyn, a Democrat who is running for state attorney general, said, “I am disturbed and disgusted by the videos I’ve seen of members of the neo-fascist, white supremacist Proud Boys group engaging in hate-fueled mob violence on the streets of New York City.”
District 24 Councilmember and Queens district attorney candidate Rory Lancman said it was “revolting to see white supremacists commit a hate crime on the streets of New York City — in full view of the NYPD — and for none of them to be arrested or prosecuted.
“We have seen this in other cities, but it is shocking to see it here. Hateful and violent behavior has no place in New York City, and those responsible must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Just last week, the white nationalist group Vanguard America posted signs in Sunnyside, Queens calling on residents to report “any and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” In that incident, District 26 Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer tore the signs down himself.
“We are a #SanctuaryCity & we need to be a sanctuary neighborhood. All Immigrants are welcome here. If you see these, feel free to take them down. Be a sanctuary neighbor,” he tweeted on Oct. 7.
The NYPD on Sunday said the fracas involving the Proud Boys was still being investigated, and no additional arrests had been made.
— Additional reporting contributed by Jonathan Sperling and Sara Bosworth
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