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This Saturday, a handful of demonstrations took place across the US that in several instances broke out into violent clashes between those on the far-Right and antifascists. The far-Right was rallying over the death of Kate Steinle, a young white woman who was tragically killed when a gun was discharged on a San Francisco pier, ricocheted off a wall, and then struck her in the back, killing her. Both Trump and the Alt-Right have seized on Kate’s death, but moreover, that an undocumented person, Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, was involved in the shooting. Zarate claims that he found the gun on the street wrapped in a towel (the firearm was stolen from a BLM ranger) and when he unwrapped it, it discharged.
— Mark Graves (@markwgraves) December 9, 2017
Steinle’s family has made it clear that they do not want anyone, especially white nationalists and Trump to politicize her death, and when the neo-Nazi group, Identity Evropa, put up a memorial where Steinle was killed, they asked that it be taken down. Other far-Right and Alt-Right groups have jumped at the opportunity to use Steinle’s death as a vehicle to attack immigrants and potentially unite the fractured Trump base around a ‘bread and butter’ issue, however, with lackluster results.
Neo-Nazi leaders such as Mike Peinovich, Richard Spencer, and Matthew Heimbach attempted to hold a rally in Washington DC on December 3rd around the issue but attracted less than 20 people and were prevented from marching by a much larger crowd of antifascists.
Berkeley College Republicans claim Heather Heyer was killed by a heart attack at their Kate Steinle event, which they’ve organized only to stoke racist hatred despite her family stating they don’t want the death politicized.
— Berkeley Antifa (@berkeleyantifa) December 8, 2017
Alt-Lite groups soon after in the bay area held a series of small demonstrations, including outside City Hall in San Francisco, and on the University of California Berkeley campus, where the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR), known to have links to the Alt-Right and white nationalist groups, held a vigil. During the rally which attracted far-Right livestreamers and Alt-Lite trolls, members of the crowd yelled at one lone counter-protester that anti-racist Heather Heyer was killed by a heart attack, not neo-Nazi ‘Unite the Right’ attendee, James Alex Fields. Despite the fact that numerous eye witnesses and an autopsy claim otherwise, the conspiracy theory that Heyer died before being run over remains a common talking point among the Alt-Right, and apparently has found a home within the Berkeley College Republicans, which reportedly contains members of the Alt-Right and self-described “national socialists.”
Antifascist in Austin, TX on December 9th
On Saturday, December 9th, demonstrations and clashes broke out in a select few cities, including Portland, Oregon, San Diego, California, and Austin, Texas. Neo-Nazis who attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, also organized a small rally of about 5 people in Burlington, VT, but left after people began to film them. In San Diego, fights broke out, as did they in Portland, Oregon, as around 60 far-Right, militia, and Alt-Right members faced off against antifascists.
Compared to the demonstrations that took place on June 10th, where anti-Muslim groups were joined by far-Right militias, Trump supporters, and neo-Nazi groups, the protests on Saturday were extremely small and poorly attended. This dynamic played out in Austin, Texas, where around 20 far-Right militia types and Trump supporters rallied in the face of over 50 antifascists. Throughout the day, antifascists were able to out mobilize the far-Right protesters, and ended up even taking the steps of the capitol where they had planned to rally. The demonstration also broke out into scuffles and led to several arrests.
Support our antifascist defenders! https://t.co/AajrjuVAN0
— ASN Austin (@ASN_Austin) December 9, 2017
In this audio report, we talk with a member of the Autonomous Student Network (ASN) about about what went down, how the presence of guns at these demonstrations impacts them, and how antifascists dealt with troll livestreamers from InfoWars. We also touch on how people organized to come together after the demonstration in order to proactively protect the anarchist bookstore, Monkeywrench Books, in case neo-Nazi groups again held a flash mob, and how anarchists and other radicals are mobilizing against the Alt-Right on campus and what lessons the people at ASN have to share with others.