Police released footage of
Tusitala “Tiny” Toese (R) being shot in a recent clash in Olympia, Washington. Image via Getty.
Police say they’re actively searching for the person who shot a prominent Proud Boy during a recent clash in Olympia, Washington, and are concerned the shooting could fuel more political violence in the city. Far-right groups in the Pacific Northwest have been seething since one of their own, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, was allegedly shot in the foot by an anti-fascist during a confrontation at an anti-vax rally on Sept. 4, and are vowing to seeking “justice” on his behalf.
Toese has become a notorious figure in the region for his involvement with the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer (another far-right group), and brawling with anti-fascists over the years. Even after getting shot, Toese said he has no plans to retreat from street-fighting and violence anytime soon.In a statement published late last week, police said Proud Boys were chasing a group of anti-fascists, and the two groups confronted each other at the Intercity Transit Station. Someone from the anti-fascist side opened fire, according to police, and one of the bullets struck Toese. (This version of events offered by police quashed the rumors that proliferated in the aftermath of the shooting, which claimed Toese had shot himself.)The Olympia police department also released a video showing the moment Toese was shot, which clearly shows a black-clad individual running with a group of anti-fascists, who then stops, turns around, and fires a weapon in the direction of a group of men.
The video doesn’t offer any context for what may have occurred in the moments preceding the gunfire, or whether Toese was targeted. Olympia police noted, in addition to the shooting, “multiple people were assaulted” that day.Left-wing activist and independent journalist Alissa Azar from Portland was among them; she said she was chased by about 50 Proud Boys, who maced her and threw her to the ground by her hair. A woman is heard screaming in a livestream from the vicinity of the alleged attack.
Authorities are now concerned that the shooting of Toese could be a lighting rod for further violence. In a statement, interim police chief Aaron Jelcick said that they were aware that the Proud Boys were “advertising their plans to return to Downtown Olympia on September 18 as a response to the shooting” (which is, incidentally, the same day that hardcore MAGA supporters are expected to rally in support of jailed Capitol rioters in Washington, D.C.). Jelcick says that the department is preparing ahead of potential violence this coming weekend.Toese gave a recent interview to a far-right podcaster after he was discharged from hospital, where he said he doesn’t plan to retire from brawling “any time soon.”“We’re beyond that point of giving up,” said Toese. “I made a promise… I said, I’m going to take a stand, that until America is restored to its original foundation, that tyranny stops, I don’t think our job is going to be over. So until the day they put me six feet under, I will not stop.”Clashes between far-right Proud Boys and anti-fascists in the Pacific Northwest have gotten progressively more brutal and bloody over the years. Back in 2017, around when Proud Boys were founded, members of the far-right street-fighting gang would often come into liberal cities like Portland seeking out confrontations with leftists.
Sometimes, verbal disputes and jeering would escalate into fistfights. Since then, rivalries have deepened, become even more personal, and spilled out into other cities in the region, like Olympia or Salem.Toese, a hulking man who stands at 6’3” and weighs nearly 300 pounds, has been a regular fixture in all this and earned a reputation for violence. In Jan. 2020, Toese pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a 2018 incident where he punched a left-wing Portland man in the face, and was sentenced to probation. He was later sentenced to six months in jail after he was caught on camera violating the terms of his probation by beating up a man in Seattle during a protest.Firearms have made an increasingly uneasy addition to the tense confrontations between ideologically opposed groups. Last summer in Portland, a Proud Boy supporter was photographed brandishing a gun and pointing it at anti-fascists. During another clash, an anti-fascist shot and killed a member of Patriot Prayer (Toese counted the victim as a good friend). A supporter of the far-right also opened fire at counterprotesters during a “Stop the Steal” protest last December in Olympia. And late last month, a particularly brutal protest in Portland, which Toese attended, culminated in gunfire (no one was hurt). Follow Tess Owen on Twitter.(Disclosure: Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE in the mid-1990s. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He founded the Proud Boys in 2016.)