Report from Steel City John Brown Gun Club, who along with other community organizations, organized in the wake of a racist neo-Nazi attack.
Paul Morris, a long time resident of Avalon PA, was attacked on July 7th at the Jackman Inn, a local bar. He was trying to deliver a thank-you note to a friend who worked in the kitchen who had recently catered his son’s birthday. Within minutes of entering the establishment, Paul was attacked by a mob of white power skinheads, all members of Keystone United. KU is a PA wide hate group, originally known as the Keystone State Skinheads. They have been involved in numerous beatings, criminal investigations and murders since their inception, and have ties to the hyper-violent Hammerskin Nation, one of the country’s most blood drenched white hate organizations.
Paul and his friend were able to partially fight off the attack despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, sustaining only minor physical injuries. The Nazis fled when police arrived on scene. They needn’t have bothered, as the KU members were released and not charged until days later and only after considerable public outrage. When Paul initially asked to file charges, he was told by the responding officer that he wouldn’t be allowed because he “didn’t try hard enough to get away”, underlining better than we ever could the default coalition that exists between police and organized white power.
In recent weeks since the attack on Paul, the Steel City JBGC has been working in coordination with BLAQK OPS and Avalon community members to raise awareness within the greater Pittsburgh area that fascists have been flying their colors, committing violence, and recruiting in our communities. We have been distributing flyers and posters publicizing the names and faces of Keystone United members as well as fascist symbols and insignia.
Realizing that spreading information alone was an insufficient solution in and of itself, we began planning a more concrete response.
Alongside BLAQK OPS (Black Liberated Army of Queens and Kings) and local residents, we made plans to throw a community picnic in Avalon, as a display of unity and cross-racial solidarity in the middle of territory Keystone United is attempting to claim. The event was aggressively publicized in Avalon as well as over social media, making no attempt to hide our collective contempt for KU or their cowardly tactics.
August 12th, the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville VA, was selected as the date of the action. Our intent in this was two fold. First, to connect the struggle against white supremacy across terrain, explicitly tying together the crimes of KU to those of Alex James Fields and the whole of the fascist movement since it’s inception, lest people forget or underestimate the seriousness of the threat we face. And secondly, to honor Heather Heyer and all martyrs for liberty in the truest way available to us: not with ceremony, but in active struggle against tyranny and racial terrorism.
On A12 we met in Avalon Park and spent the first several hours in fellowship with one another, enjoying good food, a bright day with mild weather and the company of neighbors and allies. The picnic was heavily attended by local residents and families, as well as representatives from several political and racial justice organizations. Children ran and played under signs proclaiming “United Against Fascism” and “Keystone United are a bunch of Jaggofs.”
Later on, members of BLAQK OPS announced that those who were able and willing would now commence a march through Avalon, in defiance of the fascist threat attempting to gain a foothold in the town.
We gathered ourselves and a group of about 30, bearing a 20 foot banner reading, MOURN THE DEAD. FIGHT LIKE HELL FOR THE LIVING, and set out, marching the length of California Avenue while chanting “Charlottesville to Avalon! Nazi trash get off our lawn!”
The JBGC fireteam flanked the march, armored and open carrying as a defensive formation. Again, no fascists appeared, and the police, though on site, did not approach the march. Towards the end of the demonstration, a moment of silence was held out of respect to the memory of Heather Heyer, killed a year ago that day. As we marched, her name was sung out along side that of Tubman, Shakur, Brown and other heroes who risked or lost their lives in the fight against white supremacy.
We extend our sincere thanks to Paul, BlaQK OPS and the residents of Avalon who came out to live bravely together and made the event a success.