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Proud Boys member says he felt ‘justified’ during Antifa beatdown in Manhattan, protesters made him nervous before brawl

2019-08-14

Proud Boy John Kinsman is seen in the lobby of Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

A far-right Proud Boys member on trial for a one-sided beatdown last year of leftist Antifa extremists portrayed himself Tuesday as a nervous, bumbling participant who was only defending a “good bunch of drinking buddies.”

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound John Kinsman testified at his trial that he was “uptight” after seeing Antifa members outside the Manhattan Republican Club last Oct. 12, where former Proud Boys leader Gavin McInnes was giving a speech.

“These guys [Antifa] are here, and they’re angry. It was really getting me worried because of the way the police were building this up,” he testified in Manhattan criminal court, adding he was nervous because he’d watched “hundreds” of YouTube videos showing Antifa members using bricks, batons and bike locks in previous clashes.

And when he joined the fray, charging one Antifa member on E. 82nd St., he said he tripped and fell almost immediately, colliding into the man he was trying to charge.

“The first thing I did when I arrived at the fight was I fell flat on my face,” he said. He got up quickly, though, because “I’m just a fat dude on the floor," he said.

But as he fell, he also slammed an Antifa protester to the ground, then got back up and started kicking and stomping him as he lay face-up on the ground. When the fight seemed to be fizzling out, he said, he turned around and kicked another fallen Antifa member in the shoulder.

Proud Boy Maxwell Hare is seen in the lobby of Manhattan Criminal Court on August 13, 2019 in New York.
Proud Boy Maxwell Hare is seen in the lobby of Manhattan Criminal Court on August 13, 2019 in New York. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

He told his defense lawyer he felt “justified” because he thought his life was threatened, and “because it was a street fight.”

Kinsman denied being a racist and said he joined the Proud Boys after his wife, who is black, sent him a Dateline profile on the group.

He described the Proud Boys he met as "a good bunch of drinking buddies that were right-wing."

“Not many right-wingers that you can just have drinks with in New York City,” said Kinsman. “It’s a Democratic stronghold.”

The prosecution laid out a different portrayal of Kinsman: a brutal brawler who taunted Antifa before the fight, kicked them while they were down, and bragged afterwards.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass highlighted how Kinsman taunted the Antifa members across the street as he left the event, flipping them the bird.

“I’m not white power, I’m not flashing ‘OK’ hand symbols to convey white power. I’m not a racist in any way, shape or form,” Kinsman testified. And he denied celebrating after the fight, though he conceded a video recorded him saying he’d “stomped the s**t out of them” after the brawl.

Steinglass also confronted his co-defendant, Maxwell Hare, saying he led a charge down 82nd; St. before an Antifa member threw a water bottle at his group.

“You weren’t running over there or striding over there to work out your differences, were you?” asked Steinglass, and Hare responded, “No.”

Hare admitted to taunting a member of Antifa he hit with two uppercuts, kicked and stomped, and conceded that he was “bragging” after the fight.