Report from Little Rock, Arkansas about how antifascists and trans people pushed back against a violent group of neo-Confederates who attempted to shut down their rally with police backing.
On March 31st, 2019, a northwest Arkansas neo-Confederate hate group called the Hiwaymen attacked a group of transgender activists and civilians gathering for the Trans Day of Visibility on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. Antifascists had gathered at the bottom of the steps to create a physical barrier and prevent Hiwaymen from advancing upwards, but we were flanked on the right side by the arrival of more Hiwaymen.
The Hiwaymen has been lying exhaustively about how the capitol came to a “slug out” allegedly. And let’s limit that bullshit to what it was. After I tried to break Jason’s attack on a kid, they all grabbed at me and started beating the brakes off me. You can see in plenty of videos Jason lambel refusing to let go of me and trying to provoke an actual slug out. It never happened. We went there to celebrate. They came up brawl. They failed. If the best they got was whooping my ass as they’ve put it over and over in videos, they failed at that too. I was still standing. And let me be clear, I’d take another ass whooping any day of the week if it means stopping these assholes from attacking kids. They came there uninvited, and were determined to aggravate anyone there. Just before this was recorded it was decided that we would let them have the steps. We would keep to ourselves down at the bottom. In the other video this is why you see everyone turn away at first and then everyone looks down to see Jason beginning his attack. Jason Lambel was lunging at a trans kid, kid tried to back away from the unprovoked attack and backed into James Del Brock ( he is recording here ) right as James attacked him. Then me, coming to break this bullshit up. Hiwaymen are going to keep attacking kids, they know it will bring anyone to intervene. They were hoping it turned into a brawl. I want to personally thank James Del Brock for recording this showing who really started it.
由 Ryan Quinn Foster 发布于 2019年4月2日周二
“There were children present, and the Hiwaymen were seen throwing their walkie talkies at them, as well as assaulting unarmed trans demonstrators.”
They physically forced their way through a group of peacefully assembled transgender people and stood at the top of the steps with a flag that said “Team Deplorable,” as well as a small Hiwaymen poster and a poster blaming the AIDS crisis on the existence of gay and bisexual men, among other hate slogans. They physically antagonized and pushed the transgender activists until it came to blows.
There were two major struggles. The initial confrontation was broken up by a combination of antifascists and trans activists breaking up the fights and separating the groups. Trans activists holding signs formed a line in front of the Hiwaymen, who had lined up at the top of the steps. Then Hiwaymen member Jason Lambel, wearing a helmet with a broom attached to the top, rushed a young trans activist, and another conflict ensued. There were children present, and the Hiwaymen were seen throwing their walkie talkies at them, as well as assaulting unarmed trans demonstrators. That conflict was broken up by police. It’s believed that the Hiwaymen called the police in advance of their arrival with the anticipation of a physical altercation.
After physically attacking a #TransDayOfVisibility event at the #Arkansas State Capitol, member of The "Highwaymen" calls for more acts of violence against Transgender people.
由 Jam City Antifa 发布于 2019年4月1日周一
“They can be whatever they want to be, but not on our state capitol grounds…Why would you want to bring filth into a clean house?”
After the arrival of the police, the Hiwaymen were corralled below the trans activists on the steps with a police presence in between. Trans activists then faced inward towards a podium. We sang, we prayed, and we had a short succession of speeches addressing the legal, medical, and social struggles of transgender people in 2019.
“the Hiwaymen stood cowering on the other side of the police, shouting slurs and abuse at the trans activists, occasionally specifically targeting the children.”
Antifascists stayed at the edges of the gathering, as the Hiwaymen occasionally tried to advance through the police line. InTRANSitive, the Arkansas transgender activist group that organized the event, held several activities where trans demonstrators could express what they needed and wanted for the advancement of equality, as well as have photos taken together. All the while, the Hiwaymen stood cowering on the other side of the police, shouting slurs and abuse at the trans activists, occasionally specifically targeting the children. One officer left the police line briefly to demand that trans indigenous activists extinguish sage that they were burning as part of a religious rite.
Because of the fighting, as soon as the gathering began to become more casual, the police demanded that everyone vacate the premises. Hiwaymen asked for police escort until the trans activists were gone. Police led them off to the side and to their cars while trans activists and antifascists left in groups for safety. While leaving the scene on foot, myself and a small group of other antifascists were followed and accosted verbally by Hiwaymen in a small red vehicle. They circled the block and then drove onto the highway.
Central Arkansas Antifa, as well as Arkansas Commonwealth and other groups, attended the event specifically to provide community self-defense after members of Arkansas based neo-Nazi group Shield Wall Network, posted on social media specifically about the Trans Day of Visibility, and encourage each other to show up to the event.
Local antifascists have dox that SWN and Hiwaymen are communicating, as well as evidence of Hiwaymen all but copying and pasting the rhetoric of Billy Roper, figurehead of SWN. Members of SWN allegedly came to the capitol steps after the event had been ended by the police, expecting to aid the Hiwaymen in their disruption. The Hiwaymen are effectively being used as the physical confrontation arm of SWN, even though they claim to be separate, autonomous groups.
The Hiwaymen have another event planned at the Arkansas State Capitol on April 7th, as well as a demonstration in support of far-Right Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert on April 20th. They are increasing the frequency of their events, increasing the violent rhetoric in their live videos and in the articles shared on their page, and getting bolder about physical violence at the events themselves.
TRIGGER WARNING: Hate crimes on trans
Violent hate group Hiwaymen – wearing yellow shirts – tried to disrupt the Transgender Day of Visibility at the Arkansas State Capitol and assaulted trans people. Others rushed in to beat the Hiwaymen back down who ended up fleeing. pic.twitter.com/ReNt6pTVtg
— Hate Trackers (@TrackersHate) March 31, 2019
Jason Lambel also attended the Little Rock March For Our Lives event while engaging in open carry of a firearm, and specifically threatened local activists with violence. He was heard saying, “I don’t got my gun today!” before attacking children on March 31st. This is the first time one of their events has resulted in violence.
Police were asked by event organizers to remove them, but police refused, insisting on the Hiwaymen’s right to free speech and assembly, despite the violence they had just caused. Police are also refusing to follow up on assault charges by trans activists against Hiwaymen who attacked them, despite the attacks being documented in several videos. An officer was also overheard advising James Del Brock on how to contact the Chief of Police about the event.
On their social media, the Hiwaymen are of course insisting that trans activists and antifascists were the cause of violence, despite it being an event organized by groups like InTRANSitive to which Hiwaymen were not asked to attend. They expected to find defenseless, timid transgender people without an organized community self-defense. Even on short notice,they were disappointed.