Two members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist street-fighting gang, will spend four years in prison for brawling with protesters on the Upper East Side of Manhattan last year.
Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 39, were sentenced Tuesday by State Supreme Court Judge Mark Dwyer, who said that the hefty sentence was, in part, intended to discourage extremists from rallying in New York in the future.
“I know enough about history to know what happened in Europe in the '30s when political street brawls were allowed to go ahead without any type of check from the criminal justice system,” Dwyer said, according to the Times. “We don’t want that to happen in New York… especially at this time in the country when people are so divided.”
The melee occurred in October 2018, after Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes spoke at the Metropolitan Republican Club. MAGA-hatted Proud Boys wearing their trademark black-and-yellow Fred Perry polo shirts roamed the streets, shouting homophobic slurs and beating up protesters.
Hare and Kinsman were convicted in August on charges of rioting, attempted assault, and attempted gang assault in August.
Prosecutors had to rely on video footage of the violence to secure a conviction, because the four victims, who were masked, didn’t testify or talk to police. Based on video, they concluded that Kinsman was the most violent of the group, and Hare threw the first punches.
Surveillance and bystander video showed multiple Proud Boys brutalizing protesters and passersby. In one video, a Proud Boy is overheard bragging about kicking a “foreigner” in the head.
“The defendants transformed a quiet, residential street into the site of a battle royale, kicking and beating four individuals in a brutal act of political violence," Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said after their conviction in August.
Ten men in total connected to the Proud Boys were arrested in relation to the incident. Two of those men took plea deals and were given community services, one case is pending, and others who pleaded guilty have received sentences between 40 weekends and three months in prison.
The Proud Boys has been tied to violent clashes elsewhere in the U.S., including in Portland, Oregon. They describe their members as “Western chauvinists” and have been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on account of their misogyny and white nationalist views.
Disclosure: The Proud Boys organization was founded by Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of VICE Media. McInnes left VICE in 2008 and has not been involved in the company since.
Cover: Maxwell Hare, left, and John Kinsman, arrive at court, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in New York. The two members of the far-right Proud Boys group are on trial this week for their roles in a violent clash with left-wing protesters in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)