Two members of the proto-fascist, white “nationalist” Trump-supporting group that calls itself the “Proud Boys” were convicted of assault today in a Manhattan courtroom. The convictions stem from a 2018 incident in which so-called “Proud Boys” attacked purported members of the anti-fascist resistance group, “Antifa,” who were protesting a speech that “Proud Boy” founder, Gavin McInnes had delivered to an audience of New York City Republicans.
John Kinsman, age 39 and Maxwell Hare, age 27, were convicted of multiple offenses including attempted gang assault and attempted assault. During their trial, their lawyers contended that they had acted in self-defense as they were allegedly made to fear for their safety by the people who were protesting their hate speech.
The prosecution apparently demolished this defense.
Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass emphasized that Mr. Kinsman and Mr. Maxwell’s actions went far beyond what could be considered self-defense.
“What these defendants did was beyond overkill,” Mr. Steinglass said in court Wednesday. “Words alone, unaccompanied by physical threats or acts does not make a person the original aggressor.”
During closing arguments, prosecutors showed surveillance tape that captured Mr. Kinsman body slamming an Antifa member, and repeatedly kicking him against a gate while wearing work boots. Prosecutors said those boots operated as a weapon. Video footage that was shown to the jury also captured Mr. Hare, who Mr. Steinglass said started the brawl, punching another Antifa member multiple times before being pulled away by another Proud Boy.
The incident received significant attention on social media. Mr. Kinsman was also caught on video bragging after he had committed the assaults, a factor which likely did not weigh in his favor.
Donald Trump has expressed his implicit support for the Proud Boys and other Nazi-like thug organizations by threatening to label those who protest against them as “terrorists.” Two Republican Senators have assisted him by introducing a non-binding resolution that would do just that. Because the “Antifa” group has no strong structural organization, this designation would likely result in a “chilling effect” on any resistance to these types of Neo-Nazi thugs, forcing people to silently tolerate their torch-bearing marches and hate-spewing in fear of being arrested for protesting their intentionally terroristic presence.
Trump’s disinterest in criticizing the Proud Boys is part of a longer trend in which he’s remained completely silent or, at most, has been mildly critical of the threat posed by white nationalist and white supremacist organizations, many of whom view his presidency as a boon for their cause and whose language echoes that of the president.
As of this afternoon Trump had not weighed in on his supporters’ convictions.
Both Kinsman and Hare face up to fifteen years in prison. Their sentencing hearing is October 11.
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