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Oct 19, 17

IGD Gainesville: Gators Mobilize Against Neo-Nazis

A large crowd of over a thousand mobilized on the University of Florida campus where Richard Spencer, along with neo-Nazi organizers Mike Peinovich and Elliot Klein, leader of Identity Evropa, spoke before about 20 supporters. Inside of Spencer’s talk, hundreds chanted and disrupted the event, screaming, “Fuck you Spencer!,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Go Home Spencer!” About two rows of neo-Nazis wearing white polo shirts and khakis sat together, far away from the much larger crowd. Thomas Rousseau, the 18 year old leader of Patriot Front was captured on film as he tried to turn away from a camera. Rousseau leads a group that is an offshoot of Vanguard America, and at the Unite the Right demonstration led a squad of neo-Nazis that included James Alex Fields, who later would be arrested for the murder of Heather Heyer. Organizers on campus report the mobilization was a smashing success, with Spencer largely unable to speak and ending his event early. Outside of the venue, the large crowd chased and beat up various neo-Nazis.

People on the ground earlier in the day report that the police presence was massive and very well militarized, with police blocking off roads, containing counter-demonstrators, and acting as security for the neo-Nazi event. Later in the day the were on hand to provide security for the neo-Nazis as they left the venue. Police also searched people for weapons, kept out medics from entering the area, and had shooters stationed on rooftops. Neo-Nazis with the event controlled who did and didn’t get a ticket, as well as filtering out journalists.

Before the event began, Richard Spencer did a press conference in front of a room full of press, ironically at the same time as op-eds in The Washington Post and New York Times were published that implored demonstrators to go home and ‘ignore’ neo-Nazis who were amassing on campus and protected by police with over $600K in their tax dollars. Despite writing that it was protests which forced journalists to cover white nationalists, only a little over a week ago, news agencies across the country facilitated a photo op of Spencer and around 30 neo-Nazis who returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, in a flash demonstration that lasted 10 minutes. In the proceeding week, various news agencies and radio stations gave Spencer large amounts of air time, helping to platform and mainstream his views, while promoting his speaking event in Florida.

In the lead up to the event, neo-Nazi websites such as The Daily  Stormer and both published details about how Alt-Right trolls should mobilize for the speech as well as get tickets. The Daily Stormer also encouraged people to engage in ‘flash demonstrations’ at a selected group of targets such as a Jewish center, a black museum, and a newspaper. Before the event, both IGD and Unicorn Riot documented that Spencer would be utilizing neo-Nazi groups that were present at Unite the Right, including the organization that included the suspected murdered of Heather Heyer. Unicorn Riot also showed in previously unpublished Discord chats, that another group, Anti-Communist Action, had planned acts of bombing and murder against counter-demonstrators, including “ISIS” style attacks.

The success of Gainesville signals that Alt-Right and neo-Nazis rallies are losing steam; the number of Spencer supporters was extremely low despite the almost month of build up in Alt-Right circles. Meanwhile, antifascists were able to continue to turn out increasingly large numbers, while solidifying a confrontational approach. This ability to mobilize mass and militant crowds also shows that we have been able to build solid ties post-Charlottesville and have been successful to a point in combating and attacking Centrist and liberal narratives which try and defuse and desolidify grassroots autonomous social struggles.

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