NEW YORK (AP) — Two members of the far-right Proud Boys were found guilty of charges including attempted gang assault for their part in a melee that followed a speech at New York's Metropolitan Republican Club.
A jury convicted Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman on Monday in connection with the October 2018 brawl between members of the all-male Proud Boys and the loosely organized anti-fascist group known as Antifa after a speech by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. The fight started when a masked protester threw a bottle.
Lawyers for Hare and Kinsman said the men acted in self-defense, but prosecutors said they and other Proud Boys members started the physical fight.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the defendants beat four people "in a brutal act of political violence."
An attorney for Kinsman said he had no comment on the convictions. A message seeking comment was left with Hare's attorney.
During the trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, the defense lawyers argued that Antifa started the fight by charging the Proud Boys and that it escalated when a bottle was thrown.
"Antifa's only missing accessory was war paint," the lawyers wrote in one filing. "They gathered and lay in wait in the Upper East Side to aggressively attack the Proud Boys exiting the club."
The pair face up to 15 years in prison at their Oct. 12 sentencing.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal advocacy organization, has designated the all-male Proud Boys as a hate group. McInnes, a Vice Media co-founder, quit the Proud Boys a month after the clash that followed his speech.