The Slatest

New York Governor Cuomo Blames Trump, Republicans for “Proud Boys” Violence

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in Central Park on September 29, 2018 in New York City.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in Central Park on September 29, 2018 in New York City.
ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pointing the finger at President Donald Trump and the state’s Republicans for the violence that broke out Friday night after the speech of the leader of a far-right group. Cuomo told reporters he couldn’t fathom why Republicans would have invited a man who leads an organization that has been designated as a hate group to speak at their Metropolitan Republican Club. The Proud Boys is made up of men who describe themselves as “western chauvinists.”

Cuomo said the invite extended to Proud Boys founder Gavin McInness is part of a “political tactic because what they’re trying to do is fire up their base” for the midterm elections. The New York governor said New York Republicans “knew what was going to happen” when they invited the group to speak. “It was either one of the dumbest acts or one of the most malicious and incendiary political acts I’ve ever seen,” the governor said Sunday in a conference call with reporters. “You knew who the Proud Boys were. What did they think they were doing if not furthering the President’s political tactic of polarization?”

Cuomo connected the invitation extended to McInness as an extension of the effort by the GOP to demonize Democrats. “They invite the Proud Boys to the heart of Manhattan. Then they stand up and complained when the club was vandalized,” the governor said. “Why? Because they’re making the point that the Democrats are an angry mob which is just what the President is saying.”

As Cuomo called on the FBI to investigate the violent clashes Friday night that included apparent beatings by members of the Proud Boys against anti-fascist protesters, he also directly blamed Trump for creating the atmosphere where this type of violence could become a reality. “The bottom line is that I hold the President responsible for demonizing differences, fanning the flames of racism and division and creating a fire of hatred and violence,” Cuomo said. “These vile acts of racism, division and discrimination are repugnant to American values, and have no place in our state.”

The state Republican Party dismissed Cuomo’s comments as “outrageous,” saying it puts his partisanship in evidence. “It’s unconscionable that when Republicans were attacked and threatened, Governor Cuomo said absolutely nothing,” spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a statement. “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.”