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Aug 27, 17

IGD Berkeley: Black Bloc Pushes Out Alt-Right, Reclaims Park

Cover Photo from Shane Bauer 

This morning thousands converged in Berkeley, California to confront and shut down a rally called by white nationalist Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman. The theme of the rally, like all Stickman events was vague, “No Marxism in America,” and was a nod to the white nationalist conspiracy theory of “cultural Marxism.” Like “white genocide,” it promotes the idea that Jews are breeding out whites and are using African-Americans and immigrants to do it. On Friday morning however, Kyle Chapman was brought before a court to face weapons charges stemming from a pro-Trump rally on March 4th and was taken into custody, only to be bailed out the next day. Chapman was also given stay away orders from MLK Civic Center Park.

Since March, Chapman, who lives in Daily City, south of San Francisco, has been coming to Berkeley and engaging in fights and encouraging members of the Alt-Right to attack residents. He was been arrested three times since March 4th, and repeatedly referred to Berkeley both as the “neo-Marxist” capital of California and also to it’s residents as “cocksuckers” who “couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag.” To further confuse the situation, Amber Cummings, another of the lead organizers, announced that the rally itself was canceled and also deleted the Facebook event. However on Twitter, members of the Alt-Right implied that people should still show up.

Driving up from the LA area was Proud Boy and Alt-Right organizer Juan Cadavid along with members of the Alt-Right livestreaming outfit The Red ElephantsTRE covered the ‘Patriot Prayer’ rally the day before, however on Saturday night began sharing information that promoted a night time “tiki torch” neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento. While it appears that the rally was an attempted diversion, various Alt-Right and neo-Nazi accounts following TRE replied positively to the tiki march. A photo of Juan Cadavid also circulated, showing him picking out tiki torches. Ironically, Cadavid is himself an immigrant from Colombia. This move by TRE and their close association with Gibson and Chapman again shows their growing connection to neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

Before the Sunday mobilization, the city of Berkeley also gave the city manager’s office the power to essentially create new rules for public events that did not have a permit. In essence, to declare any sort of public gathering a ‘state of emergency’ which in theory would allow the police more leeway to arrest people on the streets. These new restrictions were coupled with a campaign by both local officials and UC Berkeley to encourage people to stay off the streets and allow the Alt-Right rally to take place without resistance.

Things went down much differently; thousands converged and took to the streets of Berkeley. By 11 AM people were already occupying the streets of the city. Police the night before had placed road barricades up around the park, and again as in the past enforced a de facto permit for the area. Police around the park searched people for weapons entering the park, but inside both sides clashed.

Around 12 PM, a large black bloc marched on the park, followed by a sound truck and other marchers who referred to the black bloc as a protective security force. Anarchists and antifascists carried a giant banner that read, “Avenge Charlottesville, Protect Your Community.” A standoff developed with the police, and the black bloc used shields to protect the crowd from possible police projectile weapons as officers raised them. Despite the threat of police violence, people began to move into the park after climbing over barricades. Police then stood down, moving to the outside of the park. Clashes with members of the Alt-Right broke out. Juan Cadavid was driven out of the park surrounded by police. Joey Gibson then showed up to the park, was confronted and then ran into police and asked to be arrested in order to be escorted out of the park. On social media Based Stickman encouraged members of the Alt-Right to leave the park. During the clashes, antifascists released colored smoke which some mistakened as tear gas by several people online.

After removing the various Alt-Right members of the Alt-Right from the park, a celebratory mood came over the crowd. Various speakers addressed people from a sound truck. White nationalist livestreamers with The Red Elephants, speeding off in their car from angry crowds complained on their livestream that they blamed Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson for their embarrassing failure. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Ohio and New York. We encourage people who were on the ground to submit reports and analysis.

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It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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