Handmade banners showing support for the Proud Boys were draped along the city's bridges and tunnels this weekend, following a low turnout rally outside Trump Tower for the recently convicted members of the far-right group.
The banners appeared Sunday over the Manhattan Bridge and the Queens Midtown, Lincoln, Holland and Brooklyn Battery Tunnels, bearing slogans such as "No surrender" and "No Retreat!" Another likened the governor to "Fredo," a Godfather reference that's gotten under the skin of both Andrew and Chris Cuomo in recent months.
The governor vowed to open an investigation into the vandalism, and shot back on Sunday with an epithet of his own.
"I have a message for the 'Bigot Boys' who skulk around like cowards in the dead of night: when you preach hate and division, New York answers with love and unity," Cuomo said in a statement. "Crawl back into your hole, Bigot Boys—there's no place for hate in our state."
Calling themselves "western chauvinists," the Proud Boys are an all male organization whose members have been tied to racist and xenophobic causes, including the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. They've faced a series of public setbacks since their involvement in a street brawl with anti-fascist protesters in Upper Manhattan last year.
Last month, the two Proud Boys who instigated the fight were each sentenced to four years in prison for attempted gang assault and rioting. The group's founder, Gavin McInnes, distanced himself from the organization after prosecutors brought the charges. He has not publicly appeared alongside members in months, and was not present at a rally held Saturday aimed at showing solidarity with his recently-jailed followers.
Roughly two dozen Proud Boys and sympathizers did turn out for the demonstration, decked out in pro-Trump apparel and holding signs labeling anti-fascists as "A Demostic [sic] Terrorist Organization." They were met by hundreds of counter-protesters. Police kept the groups penned on opposites side of the street throughout the afternoon.
“You’re definitely seeing fewer of them on the street compared to a year or two ago at things like this," said one anti-Proud Boys protester, who identified himself only as Adam. "That tells me that this works, showing up and denying them a platform. But you can’t rest now, we’ve got to stay on it."
Additional reporting by Nick Pinto.