Hartford, Thursday January 11th, 2018 – It has come to the attention of the Connecticut membership of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Legion of Queer Anarchists and the New Haven Anti-Fascists that on the afternoon of Friday December 29th, 15 white supremacists associated with an organization calling itself “CTVanguard” held a white pride demonstration. Beginning at noon at the statue of mass murderer Christopher Columbus at Washington Street and Lafayette Street, CTVanguard waved USA flags, held signs that read “we belong here,” and rallied for white power in Frog Hollow, a well know Latinx neighborhood in Hartford.
In addition to glorifying a figure who initiated a wave of genocide and racism that still reverberates across the Americas to this day, they saw fit to denigrate with their presence the memorials to the 1798 Irish Rebellion at Heaven Skate Park, and Ancient Burying Ground which is considered an important African-American landmark. At various times anti-fascists faced physical aggression and hate speech while bearing witness on public property, but held their ground so as not to give fascists the impression they could march through our city with impunity. While no one was hurt, we will be doubling our efforts to monitor and oppose them wherever they go.
In response to this and other provocations, the IWW is organizing a series of public educational talks on fascism and anti-fascism. Longtime social justice organizer Roger Benham volunteered as medical support for counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA this past August, and returned home to Connecticut with a renewed urgency to raise awareness about the dangers posed to our communities by right-wing terrorism. Following his September lecture hosted by the Think-and-Do Philosophy Club at the Mansfield Public Library, the IWW approached him to organize more such talks. The first will take place at Diaspora Multicultural Society at 90 John Street in New Britain, CT on Friday February 9th at 7:00pm, with a Hartford engagement to be announced shortly. Roger will discuss the history and ideologies of right-wing extremism in the United States from the 1930’s to today, and how we “not only as antifascists but also as working class radicals with a class-based analysis and liberatory vision beyond liberal democracy can effectively respond to them.”
Since June of last year there has been a steady and alarming uptick in white supremacist activity in Connecticut. The Islamophobic “ACT for America” was outnumbered by counter-protesters in Waterbury. Fascists from such hate groups as the Proud Boys, Identity Evropa and the American Guard were promptly chased off the New Haven Green by hundreds of anti-fascists. In October the “White Whalers Book Club” harassed the towns of Southington, Bristol and Newington with Neo-Nazi-affiliated propaganda that drew universal condemnation from the affected communities. And in November, the UConn College Republicans, hijacked by members of the extreme right-wing Turning Point USA, hosted Lucian Wintrich, white supremacist provocateur. Wintrich not only disparaged the humanity of UConn’s diverse community, he also assaulted nonviolent protester Katie Gregory, violently grabbing her, after she sought to end his deluge of racist, misogynistic and Islamophobic abuse. Since this incident, Katie been the victim of a coordinated white supremacist doxxing campaign that has called for her arrest and firing. She has also received death threats.
Upon learning of CTVanguard’s attempt to hijack the Irish freedom struggle for racist ends, this latest insult provoked an impassioned rebuke from the US-based National Irish Freedom Committee: “To all fascists, white supremacists, hate mongers, bigots, and sectarian mongrels; you are cautioned to leave our monuments alone, our songs out of your mouths, and our legacy free from your tarnishing hate speech. We unequivocally condemn your use of Irish republicanism, and your use of its monuments to our patriot dead.”