Filed under: Action, Analysis, Anarchist Movement, Anti-fascist, Featured, Queer, Southeast
The new federal regime, and the clarion call of #J20 has raised the stakes in the fight against fascism nationwide. Most types of socio-political trends have a tough time making their way all the way Southeast to Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. What follows is a portrayal of the growing antifa presence in South Florida, and some of the more significant signs of creeping fascism in the same area.
WE’RE FABULOUS, DON’T FUCK WITH US
Most recently, on Friday, February 24th, a demonstration for the liberation of Trans and Queer people took place in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Although this was planned weeks ago, the regime’s recent decision to drop federal protection of trans kids brought a new level of relevance to the night’s proceedings. There have been many, many protests in South Florida these past 3 months that claim to be stand against discrimination. But unlike all the others, instead of a throng of white, liberal sign-wavers, this demonstration was supported by a black bloc – probably the first of its kind in Broward County. Gone were the figureheads and the pretenses of tolerance for the intolerant. Exclusively trans persons and queer POC of color spoke to the crowd, and they spoke of tragedy, and rage, and resistance to those that threaten their existence. The speeches took place in Huzienga Park, which was fenced off in preparation for “Yogafest,” an event popular with local privileged liberals, particularly cis white women. By occupying that space, we spread radical love.
Unlike so many protests staged by liberals and masked do-gooders alike in South Florida, antifascists worked diligently to support and empower the voices of queer and trans event organizers. There would be no peace police, no passive chants or staying on the sidewalks. The march wound from upscale bars to the entrance of Broward County Main Jail and back. Unsurprisingly, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department grew increasingly paranoid at the intentions of the black bloc demonstrators as the night wore on, and so at the very end of the night they suddenly tackled, punched, tazed, and arrested one of us. Later, another protester was arrested doing jail support for the first person for an outstanding warrant.
The objective of creating a transformative space for trans and queer youth, as well as encouraging acceptance of anti-fascist support from demonstrators, was a total success. If anyone was experiencing doubts about the need for the black bloc by the end of the protest, the police brutality everyone witnessed outside of Yogafest erased them.
DANGERS, FASCIST AND LIBERAL
Typical online harassment ranges from murderous to ridiculous.
Organized -ism’s are scarce in South Florida, and that includes the fascists. The occasional pro-police demonstrators or Confederate flag wavers in years past have not gained much traction. However, since the election, a few new and less subtle efforts, have arisen.
Just before the Fort Lauderdale protest, “Identity Evropa” flyers were pasted up around Florida Atlantic University, immediately preceding a speaking visit by Angela Davis. Anti-fascists responded rapidly to patrol the University during the speaking event.
Augustus Sol Invictus spent most of his Senate primary campaign denying white supremacist ties while sporting this “fashy haircut.”
So far this appears to be just another cheap scare tactic by neo-Nazi cowards that pose little threat at this time. They fit the general level of anonymous harassment that radical and liberal activists across Florida have experienced recently at the hands of a few fascist trolls, operating behind poorly conceived Facebook pages. Although these threats continue to not materialize, even the tolerance of an ongoing campaign of death threats against a burgeoning movement, that includes queer youth, POC, and other marginalized targets, bears a counter-action.
In a similar vein, some of Florida’s most prominent closet fascists have stepped a little further out into the open. Failed Libertarian Party Senate candidate Augustus Sol Invictus has partnered with a number of other LP outcasts to create a “news” organization known as the Revolutionary Conservative. While not gushingly in support of the new regime, the site’s focus on “preserving Western/European civilization” and making absurd attempts to stigmatize #J20 & Berkeley antifascists as “terrorists,” places them squarely in the enemy camp. Fascists don’t need to support Trump to know that Trump supports them. Invictus and his followers recently visited Miami and may shill their white supremacism and boot-licking in other Florida cities in the future.
Typical white supremacist fodder from ‘The Revolutionary Conservative.’
One of the larger developments is what’s going on right at Trump’s doorstep.
Bingham Island is a small islet that sits on Southern Boulevard Bridge between downtown West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, directly South of Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s “Winter White House.” Since the election, and especially on weekends when he is in town, his supporters have taken to tailgating on Bingham Island.
Meanwhile, marching on Mar-A-Lago has also become one of the more popular protest ideas for South Florida anti-Trump protesters. Novice protesters wound up drawing out over 3,000 people to downtown West Palm Beach on February 3rd. This demonstration wound up being a perfect illustration of the combined threat of fascist and liberal forces in the Trump era.
Despite drawing out a crowd of unprecedented size for this demonstration, liberal event organizers demanded everyone stay on the sidewalk, spreading the protesters out for the entire length of the 3 mile long march. When some antifascists tried to get into the street, sheriffs forced them back onto the sidewalks with motorcycles, with the passive approval of event organizers.
Organizers even attempted to stop protesters from crossing the Southern Blvd Bridge, even though the demonstrators overwhelmingly were in favor of it. The organizer’s chosen stopping point was an intersection that was largely occupied by construction blockades and equipment, which could not hoped to have to held thousands of people.
Therefore, protesters wound up arriving at, and passing, by, dozens of Trump supporters, handfuls at a time, mostly without so-called protest chaperones or any preparation. The Trump supporters harassed and intimidated everyone they got near and attempted to provoke them into physical confrontations. Numerous scuffles did in fact take place, and the police largely stood by and did nothing. In one filmed confrontation, leftist MMA fighter Jeff Monson was struck in the face by a flagpole; and despite the presence of riot police there were still no arrests one way or another.
Stand Off on Bingham Island, 2.3.2017. Holding the microphone is Tom Trento, a long-time Islamophobic “journalist” behind “The West United Against Islam.” He and others frequently attempted to mix into and provoke anti-Trump protesters.
Liberal organizers spent a great deal of time fretting about security, leading one of the original organizers to infamously attempt to cancel his own viral protest due to “security concerns.” But when it came down to it, the liberal organizers literally exposed THOUSANDS of inexperienced protesters to organized groups of people who wanted to intimidate, entrap, or fight them.
Press whitewashes Mar-A-Lago protest.
They then trumpeted online and on the news about how peaceful and organized everything was, a totally self-serving lie as ridiculous as any of Trump’s.
Trump supporters and counter-protesters are expected to amass again next weekend at Bingham Island and it remains to be seen if liberals will continue to be their own movement’s worst enemies, or if an antifascist approach to protest security will help the continued conflicts on Bingham Island.
The aforementioned trolls are already trying to spreading rumors online that antifascists are planning terror attacks on these rallies across the state.
South Florida, the fight for antifascism is here, find us, join us in the streets, and teach your communities to be brave, and strong, and to resist.