What follows is a report from antifascists in Boston, who coordinated across the city to quickly take down Patriot Front flyers.
So, Patriot Front, those young white supremacists who splintered off from Vanguard America, they think they are really badass. Because they put up flyers. Granted, their flyers are full of hate speech and references to Blood and Soil, a catch-phrase for unashamed neo-Nazism which was chanted at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally where Heather Heyer was killed, but still, flyers are flyers. For one thing, you can print flyers at Staples, which earn you reward points that can be redeemed store wide or online, with free shipping on orders over 50 bucks or something.
“It’s worth noting that this was a communal effort, not an individual act, which also messes with them, we think, because they are so focused on (ultimately ineffective) actions by single individuals. But our strength is in our teams, and our ability to work collectively, motivated by shutting down fascism and not by obtaining individual glory.”
Patriot Front was formed shortly after Charlottesville due to leadership discrepancies between Vanguard America’s leader, Dillon Hopper aka Dillon Irizarry, and another lead member, Thomas Ryan Rousseau aka Thomas Ryan. Thomas, then 18 years old, announced the formation of Patriot Front in VA’s discord chat, took several VA members with him to form this new group, and claimed VA’s URL bloodandsoil.org as Patriot Front’s new site. Since then, groups of angry white boys and men affiliated with this group have placed flyers, dropped banners, and even gone as far as to stage “flash demonstrations” which have been interrupted and shut down on more than one occasion by passersby, counter-protesters, and even the police. Patriot Front doesn’t really care if anyone on the street sees their propaganda – what matters to them is being able to photograph and record their actions so they can spread their message online. That’s where it counts, right? A tiny, forgotten pocket of the internet’s moldy, fascist basement…
Boston is the quintessential college town, and Patriot Front loves flyering college campuses, creating a perfect storm of overly wordy flyers blowing in the New England breeze. In the last few months, there have been reports of Patriot Front flyers posted on at least two college campuses including Bunker Hill Community College and a previous trip to UMass. This may be an attempt at recruiting new members, or it might just be because the new Daily Shoah isn’t out yet and most of Patriot Front’s members are too young to just go have a drink at a bar with their friends.
Late last night, we got a report that two members of Patriot Front were masked up and flyering at UMass Boston. This was lucky for us, because UMass Boston is a sprawling campus with lots of green space, and we hadn’t gotten our 10,000 steps in yet. Our fitness goals are important to us, and so we are always down for a brisk walk. We grabbed some snacks that worked against our fitness goals, and the ice scrapers that everyone in New England keeps in their cars for those breezy, frosty mornings, and we headed out.
Public transportation is conveniently located right next to UMass Boston, and so we were able to be on the scene quickly. While we were prepared for something more in line with the hardcore image Patriot Front tries to project, what ensued was a really lovely nature walk, with a pause every once in a while to remove a flyer or two.
“This is sort of the opposite of Patriot Front, who are known best for their amazing combination of in-fighting and bragging to empty chat rooms like it’s still 1998.”
And that was really all it took. Patriot Front’s goal is to be visible, and all we needed to make them invisible again was an ice scraper and a free hour at midnight. We estimate that the signs were up for under half an hour, based on when we received the first report and how quickly we were able to arrive on scene. And our willingness to use our ice scrapers. It helped us that they used shitty, expensive adhesive, which the zine nerd in me is still irrationally angry about, though we recognize that it’s mostly just embarrassing for them. Nerd rage aside, good on them for using their Staples reward points from all that color printing. But for real, we were in and out in under two hours, most of which was spent patrolling for any remaining flyers or Patriot Front members and enjoying the unseasonably warm night. In less than two hours, their action was erased.
This is important, because fascism and white supremacy operate under the cover of anonymity in attempt to intimidate us. While Patriot Front may try and pretend that their actions are “triggering” leftists and making people uncomfortable, in reality they can only be so intimidating if their flyers and other tactics are disrupted within minutes of their deployment. We estimate that we took down approximately 30-40 flyers, mainly on university signage and buildings. We missed three flyers in an indoor location, which a student found and removed first thing in the morning. It was like suddenly Patriot Front had no platform at all. And nothing lasting to show their internet friends, either. Poor guys.
It’s worth noting that this was a communal effort, not an individual act, which also messes with them, we think, because they are so focused on (ultimately ineffective) actions by single individuals. But our strength is in our teams, and our ability to work collectively, motivated by shutting down fascism and not by obtaining individual glory. This is sort of the opposite of Patriot Front, who are known best for their amazing combination of in-fighting and bragging to empty chat rooms like it’s still 1998.
In contrast, while two of us were on the ground enjoying our walk, we had several comrades making our efforts possible by gathering intel, sending us moral support and being on-call to do things like water our plants if anything popped off, planning our strategy and doing the emotional, intuitive work of thinking like sad white supremacist boys in order to outsmart them. We were effective because we were coordinated. And maybe a little also because we were up against white supremacists whose biggest priority is trying to look good on the interwebs. Which, you know, epic fail. There’s only so much internet bragging you can do about an action that was interrupted and shut down literally minutes after you tried it. The internet has time stamps, and notices when your efforts are completely futile.
And finally, y’all, I have to say, the Umass Boston campus is beautiful. It’s right on the harbor, with some really peaceful walking trails between buildings. And the animals were out; we got to see rabbits, ducks, skunks and a really cute squirrel. We told dad jokes and caught each other up on the latest celebrity gossip. We also caught several pokemon. I got some good advice about dealing with a co-worker, and we saw a truly terrifying picture of John F. Kennedy, because the JFK Presidential Library is right next to the UMass Boston campus. And we got our damn steps in.
The bunnies and skunks were the scariest part of our evening, by far. Sorry, Patriot Front.