On June 10th there were multiple neo-fascist anti-Muslim demonstrations scheduled across the US. Ozarks Antifa and Central Arkansas Antifa were originally planning to travel to aid Kansas City, but at the last minute Billy Roper, a violent and avowed White Nationalist who advocates the extinction of “non-whites”, organized an Anti-Muslim rally in Batesville, AR. Its goal: “To send a message to Muslims that they are not welcome in our communities”, Roper said in a podcast on Wednesday. “We want to send a message to Muslims that they’re not welcome in our state. And ultimately we want to send a message to Muslims that they’re not welcome in our nation and, of course, endgame, on our planet.”
Roper specifically encouraged “white nationalists” to attend the marches and noted they could bring weapons to those rallies where “open carry” gun laws are in effect. In consequence, we changed our plans in the interests of local community self-defense and to stand firm against Roper’s genocidal agenda. The event was scheduled at Riverside Park, a local picnic and playground site bisected by the White River. A bloc from NW Arkansas drove through the night to arrive several hours early for recon and preparation.
What we found was that locals had already taken a huge step towards denying the white supremacists a platform by buying up all the pavilion permits on the side of the river where most people gather, and forcing the Nazis to the other side not generally used by the community.
The numbers were as follows: 8-12 fascists holding a banner stating, “Diversity=White Genocide,” under a pavilion protected by a police line, 30-40 local counter-protesters, and an 8-person masked microbloc consisting of diverse backgrounds and leftist ideologies including individual anarchists, and socialists including members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Socialist Alternative (SA). The police saw golf balls and bottle rockets in our utility belts, and gave us the choice of returning our backpacks to our vehicles or having them searched – we opted to return the backpacks to the cars and improvise other tactics.
Local liberal activists took the lead, organizing a march directly parallel to the Nazi side of the river. Tactically speaking the members of the bloc considered this to be marching in the wrong direction, but we deferred to local community initiative and participated. Then we led them across the river to confront the small Nazi group. The fascists were intent on doxxing and some of our more reckless comrades adopted a policy of giving zero fucks. Others remained masked the entire time.
They were using portable, battery operated bullhorns, but the speakers were drowned out by counter-protesters anyway, with much mockery. After 30-45 minutes of this, Roper and his followers were laughed off the stage; while members of the bloc hung out with locals for over an hour afterwards, having very friendly and sympathetic conversations.
The KKK/Nazi faction that Roper represents is having a larger demonstration in Harrison, AR on June 24th, and the AARA calls for people to show up and help us shut it down. Other coordinating groups include Mountain Home Redneck Revolt, Anti-Tyranny Brigade, and Anon-Resistance. Batesville was a victory and the dialogue among locals and the diverse and nomadic anti-fascist affinity groups was amazing, and so productive that some of the locals told us they plan on joining us during Harrison’s 2nd Annual Pride March, where we’ll be countering Roper’s Anti-LGBTQ “#Trad Rally”, in Harrison on the 24th.
We intend to continue this momentum and develop community based “Engagement Politics” and our microbloc praxis further, as was begun in Pikeville if not before. The next confrontation in Harrison is strategically important, please get the word out and we hope to see you there.