The New York Police Department announced over the weekend that it has opened a criminal probe into the Proud Boys, a far-right fraternal organization.
Deputy Commissioner John Miller told the New York Times that the group was “the subject of a regular criminal investigation” following their involvement in a violent brawl outside a local Manhattan GOP club earlier this month.
Miller told the Times he was aware of the legal constraints on law enforcement probes of political groups but that “violence is violence.”
The probe marks the latest fallout from the Oct. 12 event at the Metropolitan Republican Club, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes made a speech mocking the 1960 assassination of a Japanese socialist leader. After the speech ended, McInnes’ followers clashed with anti-racist activists waiting outside. Three protesters were arrested at the scene.
The NYPD subsequently announced they were searching for 12 other participants in the melee, and last week arrested two suspected members of the Proud Boys. Geoffrey Young, 38, was charged with misdemeanor rioting and misdemeanor attempted assault. The Times reported that John Kinsman, 39, was charged with rioting, attempted gang assault and possession of a weapon—all felonies.
Lawyers for both men denied that their clients instigated the fights during appearances in Manhattan Criminal Court, according to the newspaper.
McInnes told the Times he was helping broker the surrender of the other seven Proud Boys that the police want to bring into custody. The NYPD is also pursuing the arrests of three other protesters.
McInnes did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the Proud Boys as a hate group because of the Islamophobic, misogynist and racist views its members espouse.