Two members of the far-right "Proud Boys" group have each been sentenced to four years in prison for attacking a group of protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan, according to The New York Times.
The defendants, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman, had been among several people arrested following a street brawl in October 2018 between members of the Proud Boys and demonstrators believed to be linked with the anti-fascist movement. A New York jury found Hare and Kinsman guilty of attempted gang assault, riot and attempted assault in August.
The two were never charged with assault because the four victims refused to cooperate with police. Prosecutors must have evidence of injury to move forward with such a charge.
Mark Dwyer, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, said on Tuesday that the defendants' punishment was handed down as part of an effort to deter individuals from using political differences as a reason for violence.
“I know enough about history to know what happened in Europe in the 30s,” he said during the sentencing, the Times noted.
Video taken last year showed the fight between several members of the Proud Boys and a group of four anti-fascist protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side. The incident erupted after Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes gave a speech at the club that night.
The clashes prompted condemnations from both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioSarah Palin dined inside NYC restaurant on Saturday despite not being vaccinated Hochul raises .6 million since launching gubernatorial campaign De Blasio says he won't run for New York governor MORE (D). Cuomo blamed President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE for the incident, saying that he had fanned "the flames of racism and division and creating a fire of hatred and violence."
Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor, reportedly called for a 5-year prison sentence for Hare and Kinsman, saying that the attack was meant to "intimidate and silence.”
“In cities across America these two groups have repeatedly engaged in violence against one another,” he added, referencing clashes that have broken out between anti-fascist protesters and the Proud Boys in recent years. “It became clear during this trial that violence is very much ingrained in the Proud Boys ethos.”
Hare and Kinsman both apologized for their actions in court, the Times reported. The newspaper also noted that Dwyer placed some of the blame on the incident on McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016.
Though he never explicitly mentioned McInnes by name, the judge said it was "shame when some people jump up and down on a platform, and their followers, their soldiers, get in trouble."