Photo From @DCMediaGroup
On Sunday, December 3rd, one hour before an antifascist teach-in on immigration was supposed to start, a group of neo-Nazis led by Richard Spencer, neo-Nazi shock jock Mike Peinovich, Matthew Heimbach of the Nationalist Front, and “Eli Mosley,” the former leader of Identity Evropa, attempted to march and rally in Washington DC. The group numbered only about 20, and rallied for about just as long.
— Karla (@KarlaAnnCote) December 3, 2017
According to DC Direct Action News:
[N]eo-Nazis attempted to march to Lafayette Park in front of the White House for a rally with speakers. They ran into stiff opposition as two different groups opposing fascism marched onto Pennsylvania Ave to confront them. The advance of the Nazis then stalled, and this was as far as they got. A large number of cops then blocked the road and pushed into the space between the Nazis and the much greater number of counter protesters…Police clearly were defending the Nazis, they were facing counter protesters and additional cops were brought up in a threatening posture that looked like the beginnings of a kettle (mass arrest). The partial surround was a bluff, and after a few minutes of loud, back and forth shouting the Nazis gave up and marched away with a heavy police escort.
Lacey MacAuley for One People’s Project wrote about how the failed rally ended with Richard Spencer hillariously diving into an empty SUV to be driven away, while the rest of the group was forced to take the subway surrounded by police:
What followed was a frankly pathetic show from the fascists. Unable to reach Lafayette Park, they rallied in the middle of the road to the northwest corner of the White House. Their numbers were tiny. Their energy was low. Most of them were just standing there looking somewhat bored. Mike Enoch began yelling into a handheld megaphone, followed by other speakers. Addressing our energetic antifascist crowd, the supposedly-academic Richard Spencer, whose funding has mostly come from his parents throughout his rise to fame, appealed to baser instincts, leading chants like “Trust Fund Commies” and, following a baffling diatribe about hygiene, a chant of “Take a Shower.” So much for lofty speeches.
How scared are the Nazis? At the end of the event, top Nazi Spencer was filmed escaping into a black shiny SUV. We’re not sure what they had in mind, but video footage by News2Share shows Spencer sprinting away from the crowd and clumsily pitching his body head-first into the backseat of the vehicle. He looks terrified. As he disappears into the expensive-looking vehicle, the same type of vehicle that is used by media and government personalities, a reporter asks, “Where are you going, Richard?”
Richard Spencer ditches his supporters to be hustled into a waiting SUV, the rest head to the subway. The end. Telling that white power crew could only marshal ~20 people for a rally about the Steinle verdict, one of the biggest causes in country on the right. pic.twitter.com/AdXBOo5wbr
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) December 3, 2017
The event in DC represented the coming out of ‘Operation Homeland,’ an attempt by a segment of the leadership that organized Unite the Right in Charlottesville to create a vanguard cadre for the rest of the Alt-Right. Operation Homeland is marked two things. First, that it optically attempts to portray itself as as ‘civil nationalist’ organization, flying American flags, and trying to stay away from neo-Nazi and white nationalist symbols that the Alt-Right uses in private. Second, it is attempting to leave behind even the term ‘Alt-Right,’ as it embraces the word “Identitarian,” as are organizations like Identity Evropa, who have in turn stated that they will no longer engage in public events with other groups. Despite this, the inclusion of people like Mike Enoch and Matthew Heimbach in the event (both ideological National Socialists) shows that despite the appeal to ‘optics,’ the ideas remain the same regardless of the label used this month.
DC police escort neo-Nazis and organizers of 'Unite the Right' after latest protest flop including Matthew Heimbach, Tony Hovater who was recently profiled in the New York Times, William Clark of Identity Evropa, and 'Eli Mosley,' former CEO of Identity Evropa. pic.twitter.com/hH5rWcQUX0
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 3, 2017
According to Mosley on Twitter, the event was organized with about 5 days notice, and attempted to tap into the pro-Trump base that is angry over the acquittal of an undocumented man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been accused of shooting a white woman, Kate Steinle, in San Francisco. Zarate has been in jail since the shooting and now currently faces new gun and immigration charges. Above all, both Trump’s base and the Alt-Right want to turn anger over Steinle’s tragic death into a campaign against sanctuary cities.
According to Zarate’s defense, he found a stolen gun wrapped in a towel on the street while homeless and accidentally set it off on a pier by the ocean while picking it up, leading the bullet to ricochet and hit Kate Steinle in the back. Since the shooting took place, both Trump and the Alt-Right have pointed to it as a supposed example of immigrants killing white people, and currently the case has given the pro-Trump base and the Alt-Right a cause to mobilize around at a time when approval for Trump continues to plummet, anger at the Tax Bill is growing, and the Mueller investigation continues. Over the next two weeks, Alt-Lite groups will hold rallies in Berkeley, Portland and San Francisco, where Alt-Right and neo-Nazi trolls are sure to make an appearance.
While the FBI investigates people for organizing against far-Right violence, DC police are marshalling huge resources to protect and facilitate neo-Nazi rallies. https://t.co/XSn1Sq6gBf
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 3, 2017
But the pathetic showing of Operation Homeland cadre leaders from across the East Coast and the South represents the inability of the Alt-Right to pull from any sort of base in the real world, and speaks to the further segmenting of the Alt-Right into camps based around ideology, tactics, symbolism, and most of all, a cult of personality based around leadership. Right after the short event on The Right Stuff forums, some neo-Nazis applauded the event in so far as it happened, while others attacked it as another failure and a testament to the cycle of endless repackaging while assaulting Richard Spencer’s leadership abilities.
Antifascists in DC on the other hand, were able to turn out a large crowd with less than 24 hours notice. At the same time, we should be aware that all camps with the Alt-Right are attempting to change their tactics. In the days following the failed Spencer protest, chapters of Patriot Front and Identity Evropa engaged in banner drops and sticker campaigns, in an attempt to carry out tightly choreographed events made specifically for the internet. While the Alt-Right is tightening up it’s ship, at the same time it is not slowing down it’s activity as old strategies are reassessed. We in turn, most do the same.