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Cuomo says Trump rhetoric responsible for violent clashes in Manhattan

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen in Manhattan in

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen in Manhattan in September, announced Thursday $41 million in grants officials will distribute statewide. Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday he held President Donald Trump and his campaign-trail rhetoric responsible for violent clashes that erupted Friday near the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan after a speech there by the founder of a right-wing hate group.

Three people were arrested on assault charges after fighting that followed a speech by Gavin McInnes, founder of Proud Boys, a male-only group that describes itself as “western chauvinists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the organization as a “hate group.”

Vandals also caused damage to the historic club hours before the speech, including breaking windows and spray-painting walls, and Republicans said the culprits were radical leftist forces. A note left there stated, “our attack is merely a beginning.”

Police said Saturday they were reviewing video footage to see whether additional arrests were warranted.

Cuomo said during a Sunday conference call with news media representatives that he would ask the FBI to investigate because Proud Boys was a “national organization with repeated acts of violence” across the country. Cuomo also said the New York State Police would assist in the NYPD’s investigation.

“Bottom line is, I hold the president responsible,” Cuomo said. “This was clearly a political tactic. Why would the Republican Party, at their main club, invite the Proud Boys, who are known to be a hate group, who are known to promote violence?”

Cuomo noted that the attacks coincided with Trump’s recent remarks publicly and at campaign rallies, including the comparison of Democrats to an angry mob, and a discussion about Civil War generals.

“They’re desperate,” Cuomo said of Republicans. “They’re coming into the midterms, they’re afraid they are going to lose, so they’re going to the playbook — create chaos, spread fear, spread hate.”

Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for New York Republican chairman Ed Cox, said in a statement, “It’s unconscionable that when Republicans were attacked and threatened, Gov. Cuomo said absolutely nothing. 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.”

Cuomo said of Trump: “He again is releasing a cancer into the body politic of America, because when you start to demonize differences, when you start to unleash hate, when you fan the flames of racism and division, you can create a fire that is out of control.”

The White House did not respond to a request for a comment.

With Candice Ferrette

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