PHILADELPHIA—Members of the far-right Proud Boys and their allies were vastly outnumbered by protesters at a rally here outside the National Constitution Center on Saturday, the group’s first public appearance since New York police arrested some Proud Boys after a high-profile October brawl.
Roughly two dozen people turned out for the “We the People” rally outside the center which sits hallowed grounds that include the Liberty Bell and building where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Hundreds of protesters opposed the rally from across a police barricade, with chants and musical instruments that drowned out the conservative event.
The event is the latest debacle for the Proud Boys, an all-male group group of self-proclaimed “Western Chauvinists” created by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes. Proud Boys follow a number of rules set down by McInnes, who left Vice in 2008, including restrictions on how often they can masturbate. Proud Boys can achieve their highest level by getting into a fight on the group’s behalf—although McInnes has since insisted that the fight can only be in self-defense.
The rally was not an official Proud Boys event, although it was organized on a Facebook group run by Proud Boys. It also drew other extremists, including members of the “3%” militia, as well as people who simply described themselves as Trump supporters.
The tensions between Proud Boys and protesters flared after a group of Proud Boys waded into the group of protesters. The group, which was eventually pulled out of the scuffle by Philadelphia police, included David Kuriakose, a Proud Boy who’s already facing riot and assault charges over the New York fight.
One sign claimed they wanted to “eat the rich,” another showed a looming image of the mascot and a message: “He’s watching.”
Michael Bartolone, a New York resident who brought a Gritty sign about “Racist Proud Boy trash” to the rally, said Gritty appeals because of his “wild-eyed unhingedness.”
“What better icon to counter the Proud Boys with than everybody’s hero, Gritty?” Bartolone said.
The Proud Boys have faced a series of setbacks since the October fight in New York, which resulted in charges against both Proud Boys and left-wing antifascist “antifa” members. In late October, McInnes and a number of Proud Boys groups were kicked off of Instagram and Facebook.
Alan Swinney, a Proud Boy from Texas, came to the Philadelphia rally outfitted in a riot helmet and other improvised body armor.
“We don’t have any antifa to play with in Texas,” Swinney said.
The rally ended around 2:30 p.m., with Swinney and other rally-goers leaving under police escort.