No members of the “new right” organisation were arrested but onlookers said its members had been at the heart of the fighting outside of the Metropolitical Republican Club, where their leader, Gavin McInnes, was giving an address.
A flyer for the event in question promised that Mr McInnes, “banned from Twitter”, had “taken on and exposed the Deep State Socialists and stood up for Western Values”.
It promised “an unforgettable evening with one of Liberty’s Loudest Voices” at $20 a ticket or half price for members.
The centrepiece of Mr McInnes’s address was a historical reenactment of the assassination of Japanese Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma - which took place on 12 October 1960, the Bedford & Boweryblog reported. The killing had taken place exactly 58-years ago.
Mr McInnes reportedly portrayed ultra-nationalist assailant Otoya Yamaguchi, wearing glasses “with caricatured Asian eyes drawn on the front”. The incident has been celebrated as a right-wing meme in recent years as the moment Japan was “saved” from Communism.
Mr McInnes - a Canadian and founding member of what would become Vice Media in 1994 before he fell out with co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi - has long held white supremacist views.
“I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of," he told The New York Timesin 2003. “I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.’’
Since leaving Vice in 2008, Mr McInnes has cultivated an audience online for his brand, bringing together men’s rights concerns with homophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. He calls himself a “Western chauvinist”.
Mr McInnes started the Proud Boys in 2016, the name improbably taken from an obscure showtune cut from the Disney musical Aladdin (1992) entitled “Proud of Your Boy”.
The group is pro-Trump, male-only and puts its members through a decidedly odd initiation process.
Proud Boys-elect are required to pledge allegiance first, before they forswear masturbation.
Then they are subjected to a “cereal beat-in” - an assault by the rest of the brotherhood while shouting the names of five brands of breakfast cereal.
Next, they get a Proud Boys tattoo – the logo a cockerel weathervane pointing west – before seeking out a political rival to fight.
Mr McInnes believes violence is integral to securing change, telling the US website Metrolast year: “People say if someone’s fighting, go get a teacher. No, if someone’s f***ing up your sister, put them in the hospital.”
He repeated the opinion in a Media Matters video, stating: “What’s the matter with fighting? Fighting solves everything. The war on fighting is the same as the war on masculinity.”
As with other right-wing fringe players, from Alex Jones ranting about the Pentagon’s “gay bomb” to Paul Joseph Watson attacking “soy boys”, Mr McInnes believes contemporary society is secretly conspiring to feminise men and has hit out adverts portraying gay couples.
Discouraging the urge to play-fight in young boys is part of the process, he believes, whereas brawling with rivals allows adult men to reassert the primal side to their masculinity.
This is also why the group disapproves of online pornography and believes masturbation it to be a distraction that prevents men from establishing traditional relationships and saddles them with unrealistic expectations of women.
Explaining his group’s attitude to women in conversation with Taki’s Magazine in 2016, Mr McInnes insisted: “The basic tenet of the group is that they are Western chauvinists who refuse to apologise for creating the modern world. Like Archie Bunker, they long for the days when girls were girls and men were men.
“This wasn’t controversial even 20 years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953.”
The Proud Boys insist they do not start fights and only engage as a means of “self-defence”, frequently blaming the eruptions of violence at their gatherings on their Antifa rivals.
A militant fraternity in MAGA caps that revels in what others denounce as “toxic masculinity”, the Proud Boys insist they are not neo-Nazis or “alt-right” and even list “anti-racism” among the values they support, in spite of their founder’s tirades against Islam and opinion that, historically, the Jewish people “were ostracised for a good reason”.
The issues the Proud Boys say they do stand for include minimal government, maximum freedom, anti-political correctness, closing America’s borders, gun rights, “glorifying the entrepreneur” and “venerating the housewife”.