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Apr 19, 17

Auburn, AL: Students Chase off Richard Spencer and Matthew Heimbach’s Alt-Right Trolls

On Tuesday, April 18th, Richard Spencer, along with his former neo-Nazi rival, Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker Party, held a speaking event on the Auburn campus after fighting in court to defeat an injunction that sought to stop him from doing so. Before the rally, Alt-Right trolls predicted that attempts to protest and shutdown Spencer would be unsuccessful in the South, as they spread racist flyers around the university along with disinformation aimed at confusing protest groups. Meanwhile, Heimbach oozed out of the woodwork to the smell of potential media attention and offered to bring in his TWP members to provide security for Spencer and Mike Peinovich, the head of the neo-Nazi podcast network, The Right Stuff.

Spencer did end up speaking, but only after confrontations with antifascists that led to several fights and arrests and more importantly police forcing black bloc participants to leave the campus, while allowing white supremacists the ability to walk around with shields, weapons, and masks. This cooperation between the police and the neo-Nazis was useful for law enforcement, as it sought to use the far-Right to police the crowd and control it. We have to understand this relationship and call it for what it is: open collusion between white supremacists and law enforcement towards the common goal of crushing dissent.

But as Spencer was heckled by the students inside his talk, (he singled out African-American football players in particular, which drew a great backlash), outside of the speaking event, hundreds of students gathered and chanted “Fuck Richard Spencer!” As time passed, the crowd only grew larger.

While this was going on, student organizations worked with police to push groups of people into protest pens as to avoid possibly disrupting the event and also organized a free concert with pizza which was held at the football field. While these events are always promoted as an “alternative” to what the speaker in question is presenting, their real goal is to stop people from being disruptive and confrontational – in short, to be effective in shutting anything down. However, it should be noted that some students opted to take this route after receiving threats from members of the Alt-Right online in the lead up to the event. Not surprisingly, these threats did not factor into the actions of the police or the administration.

Several student organizers as well as the university and the police, were all adamant that they wanted to avoid the fights and confrontations that broke out in Berkeley, CA when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke in February. Ironically, it was this desire to avoid conflict that also allowed gangs of white supremacists free range of the campus, a platform to normalize their ideology, and also parade around with weapons and shields with the full support of the police. As one student stated, “I had grandparents in concentration camps, and to me this is how it all started.”

But as Spencer’s talk ended, hundreds of students followed the neo-Nazis on foot and and in their cars, literally driving them off the campus by the hundreds and reportedly even chasing Spencer’s car. Students continued this for some time, running the Alt-Right literally out of town.

According to those on the ground, some of the neo-Nazis were beaten as they were chased away by the crowd who chanted, “Tiger town puts Nazis down!” Various fascists were knocked to the ground, punched in the face, and stomped on before police could arrive to help them. As per usual, Richard Spencer was well protected by police and was escorted away from the premises as his “white bloc” security forces faced the wrath of the angry crowd.

While Spencer unsurprisingly declared victory over social media, what is clear is that it was the ability of the police to control the crowd that allowed Spencer to speak – not the ability of the Alt-Right to hold their ground. In the face of mass action from the students who pushed back against them, they high tailed and ran. All the way out of town.

While the is a victory in itself, both against the fascists, the control of the police, and the imposed management of student groups who wanted to avoid confrontation and disruption, we must also remember that the far-Right is coming together, gearing up, and preparing for large scale violence. We must organize, prepare ourselves, and develop the political base for mass resistance to white supremacy and fascism.

Here’s a social media roundup from the day:

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