Yet another link between the Republican Party and the pro-Trump, protofascist group Proud Boys was seen this week at a mob-style protest in South Florida against the visit of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi was attending a campaign event in Coral Gables on Wednesday for Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala when she and others were confronted by an angry mob at a campaign office. The situation was so intimidating that the building was locked down by Capitol Police and local law enforcement.
Ricky Junquera, outreach vice chairman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, told radio host and columnist Grant Stern, “I was on the other side of that door with the Capitol Police, helping to deadbolt the entrance from an angry mob. I’ve never seen anything like this in all of my years in Miami politics, or anywhere else for that matter.”
In videos of the protest, Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade County, is seen pounding on the door to the campaign office. That video was filmed by Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Miami Proud Boys, and posted on the far-right propaganda site Big League Politics. “Open up! It’s the Proud Boys in here,” Tarrio can be heard shouting.
“Fuck Nancy Pelosi,” protesters shouted, also calling the Democrats inside “comunistas” and “witches,” according to Miami Herald reporter Jimena Tavel.
The Washington Post reported that the protest appears to have been organized by Diaz, who denied that he had collaborated with the Proud Boys. Additional video of protesters outside the office shows one demonstrator waving a Proud Boys flag. But Diaz told Stern that he had never heard of the Proud Boys, and he didn’t recognize “half” of the protesters there. He said many of the groups participating in the protest were not affiliated with the GOP.
The incident occurred just days after a Proud Boys mob violently attacked antifascist protesters outside a New York City Republican club, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes had delivered a speech and reenacted the assassination of a Japanese socialist leader by an ultranationalist terrorist.
On Thursday, police arrested Proud Boys member Geoffrey Young and charged him with rioting and attempted assault. The next day, Proud Boys member John Kinsman was arrested and arraigned on charges of attempted gang assault, attempted assault, riot, and criminal possession of a weapon, CBS News reported. The New York Police Department is still seeking seven others in connection with the attack.
All of this takes place in the context of a new midterm campaign slogan coined by Donald Trump that accuses Democrats of mob-like behavior: “Jobs, not mobs.”
In response to this week’s protests in South Florida, Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip who was shot during a congressional baseball practice last year, criticized the threats against Pelosi. “I don’t agree with Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, but this is absolutely the wrong way to express those disagreements,” Scalise said on Twitter. “If you want to stop her policies, don’t threaten her, VOTE! That’s how we settle our differences.”
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told the Post, “It is stunning that Republicans have the gall to call courageous survivors of sexual assault a ‘mob’, at the same time they incite and condone violent actions like this.”
Hammill added: “Republicans must condemn this vile and dangerous conduct, and stop the reckless and dangerous rhetoric that encourages it.”
This post was updated to include details of Proud Boys member John Kinsman’s arrest.