NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday blamed Republicans after members of a far-right group were involved in violent clashes in Manhattan on Friday night, but he declined to criticize the NYPD's response, which some are characterizing as inadequate.
The violence Friday night followed a speech by Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, at the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side. The state Republican Party had invited McInnes to speak.
The male-only Proud Boys describe themselves as "western chauvinists." The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Proud Boys a hate group.
Videos posted on YouTube show clashes between the Proud Boys and groups that were protesting McInnes's speech.
Police said the fight broke out a few blocks away from Metropolitan Republican Club. According to authorities, one victim said he was approached by about 8 to 10 people who began taunting him before attacking him and taking his bag. No serious injuries were reported.
35-year-old Caleb Perkins, 20-year-old Kai Russo, and 20-year-old Finparr Flonim face robbery and assault charges. Perkins was also charged with resisting arrest.
Police spokesman J. Peter Donald said Saturday that the department was reviewing video and would make other arrests as warranted.
In a conference call with reporters Sunday, Cuomo, who has called on state police and the FBI to investigate the fights, blamed the violence on President Donald Trump and New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, who defended inviting the far-right group Friday.
But the three men arrested were reportedly not members of the Proud Boys, which has prompted criticism of the NYPD.
City Councilman Rory Lancman, a Democrat who recently announced he is running for Queens district attorney next year, said video shows police officers were at the scene of an assault by Proud Boys members but did not arrest anyone from the group.
"It is 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," Lancman said Saturday.
Several elected officials expressed outrage over the violence and blamed the Proud Boys but did not critique the police response.
"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," said Public Advocate Letitia James, a Democrat who is running for state attorney general.
"The NYPD is fully investigating last night's attack involving the Proud Boys. If you know anything, the NYPD wants your help. Hate is never welcome in NYC and we will punish those responsible — whether they threw punches or incited violence — to the fullest extent of the law," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. The NYPD is asking anyone with information to come forward.
A spokesperson for state Republican Party said in a statement that the party has not been contacted about any police investigation.
The Republican club was vandalized ahead of Friday's speech by McInnes, who is also a co-founder of Vice Media. Statewide Republican officials said 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."
The governor called the invitation to 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
The state Republican Party called Cuomo's comments "outrageous."
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."