Another local branch of the Republican Party appears to be forging ties with the far-right “Proud Boys” street gang which regularly engages in acts of political violence across the country.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was attending an event in southern Florida for congressional candidate Donna Shalala at a Democratic Party campaign office. As Pelosi arrived, the Proud Boys and others circles around her but she was quickly guided inside a backdoor entrance by staff and security.
According to footage obtained by Splinter, Proud Boys members and Miami-Dade Republican Party Chair Nelson Diaz began shouting and pounding on the doors of the building. The mob rush eventually prompted a lock-down by both Capitol Police and local law enforcement.
The gang was allegedly guided to the venue by the local GOP leader–who planned the event as a protest, according to various media accounts. The would-be protest quickly devolved into an angry mob-like scene and Diaz later claimed he was unaware of the Proud Boys’ presence until after after the event.
Open up! It’s the Proud Boys in here!
Politico’s Marc Caputo also noted that “Diaz was pounding on the Shalala campaign’s door while the Proud Boys leader was yelling ‘fucking communist!’ at Pelosi as she went into Shalala’s campaign office.”
Williams later called for Diaz’s resignation over the apparent Proud Boys affiliation:
As a Miami Republican – i demand the resignation of racist thug Nelson Diaz. I will NOT vote for @RepCurbelo’s re-election unless that occurs. You have 24 hours.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) October 20, 2018
Ricky Junquera is the outreach vice chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. In comments to local journalist and radio host Mark Stern, Junquera said:
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.
Stern and Miami Herald reporter Jimena Tavel noted that Diaz and his fellow travelers shouted cries of “comunista!” and “witches!” at Pelosi and the group of Democratic Party staffers inside the building.
The crowd has grown. They’re striking the door to the building where the event will take place. They’re also screaming “commie” and calling the Democrats “witches.” pic.twitter.com/08ZafRtxwp
— Jimena Tavel (@taveljimena) October 17, 2018
Stern also accused Diaz and the Proud Boys of trespassing, in “an utter lack of respect for private property,” as they shouted their accusations at the Democratic Party officials and staffers inside.
Video of the incident was apparently filmed by Miami Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and later triumphantly posted on pro-Trump website Big League Politics under the headline, “EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Nancy Pelosi Confronted By Pro-Trump Cubans In Florida.”
Junquera continued his criticism of the mob-like attack. He said:
If any part of that protest was sanctioned by the Miami GOP, then they should investigate and assure everyone that type of aggression is not acceptable to them either, and disavow any group or persons not representing the Miami GOP’s values.
Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill excoriated the GOP in comments to the Washington Post.
Hammill said, “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.”
Joining Democrats and national progressive groups in condemning the incident was Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) who famously survived an assassin’s bullet during an attack on a congressional baseball practice in June 2017. Scalise posted his criticism on Twitter:
I don’t agree with Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, but this is absolutely the wrong way to express those disagreements. If you want to stop her policies, don’t threaten her, VOTE! That’s how we settle our differences. https://t.co/mr4sov7gSK
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 19, 2018
The event was ultimately shut down roughly 30 minutes after Diaz and the Proud Boys arrived.
The Proud Boys are a nationalist and self-described “western chauvinist” gang led by Canadian podcast personality Gavin McInnes. The group’s membership is currently facing multiple charges over recent attacks against passersby on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
After heavy criticism, the Miami-Dade GOP released the following statement via Twitter:
Official statement: pic.twitter.com/ME82rkvLCk
— MiamiGOP (@MiamiGOP) October 20, 2018
[image via screengrab]