The footage showed members from the far-right extremist group–known for engaging in political violence in the US–bypassing the turnstiles and walking through an open emergency exit door at the Jackson Heights subway station in Queens.
The scene unfolded in front of NYPD officers as an individual who appeared to be an MTA employee held the door open to the non-paying group.
The TikToker who posted the video wrote in the caption:
"If you have ever gotten a ticket for fare evasion, just remember, the NYPD let Proud Boys not have to pay."
The video's text overlay claimed:
"NYPD allow Proud Boys to commit fare evasion in Queens, NYC."
In the video, which was seen more than 3.3 million times, Lip confronted one of the officers and asked:
"Proud Boys don’t have to pay for the fare?”
One of the Proud Boys members, who was wearing an identifying jacket and isignia, turned around and responded with:
“We’re special. Thank you. Appreciate it from your taxes.”
You can see the clip here.
Lip then tried to follow the group through the open door but was prevented from entering by an officer.
She asked the officer:
“Oh, I have to pay for the fare, but they don’t?”
“Is that the situation you’re saying?”
The officer confirmed:
Based only on what was seen in the clip, TikTokers were infuriated.
But there was more to the incident than what was filmed.
The disruption occurred on December 29 following a Drag Story Hour event at the Queens Public Library in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights.
Drag Story Hour–or Drag Queen Storytime–is a children's event that started in San Francisco in 2015 by author and activist Michelle Tea.
The national program involves artists using the art of drag to encourage and promote reading and to celebrate diversity in libraries, bookstores, and schools.
Unfortunately, the events are often met with anti-drag protests–which is exactly what happened to the one in Jackson Heights, where Proud Boys members reportedly showed up and clashed with supporters.
According to PIX11 and the Gothamist, protestors held signs that read, "Leave the Kids Alone” and “Stop Drag Queen Story Hour,” while counter-protestors–who far outnumbered the anti-drag demonstrators–held signs that said, “Drive Homophobia Away” and “Libraries Are for Everyone."
When tensions rose as participants began shouting at one another and at police, NYPD officers were forced to de-escalate the situation.
A spokesperson for the department suggested that quickly funneling the Proud Boys into the nearest subway station was an effective solution.
The police statement read in part:
"Protestors and counter-protestors began engaging one another, which led to a mobilization being called for crowd control.”
“A decision was made to escort one group to the Jackson Heights subway station to remove the group from the area."
While forcing the migration away from the public library, Police additionally noted that there:
“Were multiple incidents of pepper spray being deployed by unknown individuals at the group with one individual requiring medical attention.”
To expedite the safety protocol, the riotous group members were not required to pay the subway fare as each transaction would have slowed the process.
The NYPD added that due to the:
“Urgency and rapidly evolving situation, a determination was made to place the group on the subway and remove them from the area before the situation could escalate further.”
But City Councilman Shekar Krishnan–who represents the 25th district, including Jackson Heights–disapproved of the way NYPD handled the situation.
"White supremacists act like they’re above the law because too often they are treated that way."
"This is totally unacceptable."
Not everyone agreed with the politician.
The video also appeared on Reddit, where one user saw nothing malicious going on.
"If the proud boys legally obtained a permit for their gathering, this isn't weird," wrote Redditor 0LDHATNEWBAT.
"Usually the city will work out transportation and security as a trade off for smoother logistics."
"In my city, the police paid for busses to bring BLM marchers back to their parked cars because they organized the marching route with the police and discussed law enforcement presence and roles in the protest. The event ran like butter."
Police confirmed the group left the scene without further incident.
One 32-year-old participant was arrested for disorderly conduct, among other charges.
The NYPD also received two arson complaints in which an unidentified suspect poured chemicals onto two unoccupied vehicles and set them on fire. The spokesman said those cases remain under investigation.
While seeing NYPD officers allegedly exhibiting favoritism toward a reviled hate group may have been alarming, it's important to remember that context–which in this case was about the police trying to prevent further violence–matters.