OccupyICE San Antonio continues despite a failed attempt at intimidation by Patriot Front, a notorious group of Texas neo-Nazis. Radical journalist Kit O’Connell offers up this report on the situation on the ground.
For almost two weeks, activists have occupied the Immigrations & Customs Enforcement offices at 3523 Crosspoint Drive in San Antonio with tents and shade structures. Using noise demonstrations and direct actions, they’ve been disrupting business at the facility. Busloads of detained immigrant prisoners are a near daily sight. This ongoing protest is part of the national OccupyICE movement, which seeks to abolish ICE and put an end to the detention of immigrants and their families.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 25, 2017
About 20 nazis from Patriot Front targeted OccupyICE San Antonio on the morning on Saturday, July 28. They arrived at about 8 am while most of the campers were asleep. After lighting a road flare, the nazis shouted racist slogans while committing petty attacks on the encampment. According to Mapache, an activist at the camp I spoke with by phone, the nazis left after destroying a shade structure and a few coolers. In all, their “attack” on the camp lasted just a few minutes and caused no injuries.
“Ultimately, they didn’t do much damage,” Mapache reported.
OccupyICE San Antonio Continues After Pathetic Nazi Photo-op
Patriot Front formed out of the remains of another fascist group after the deadly events in Charlottesville in 2017. It’s led by teenage Thomas Rousseau, under guidance from older, more experienced fascists. Since then, they’ve made numerous appearances around Texas while recruiting cells of similarly minded racists in other cities. They create glossy, highly edited propaganda videos for posting on social media. Typically, most of their actions last just long enough to shoot dramatic footage.
fascists attacked our camp 8 am this morning, smashed our shit up pic.twitter.com/EOeY1EVfc8
— College Station Autonomous Collective (@CSTATAC) July 28, 2018
The attack on Occupy ICE San Antonio was no exception. Mapache said it lasted less than 5 minutes.
“They just wanted to scare us and make themselves look big,” Mapache told me.
I’ve encountered Patriot Front members before, most notably when they threatened the Houston Anarchist Book Fair in September. The briefly marched around the community center where the book fair took place while I taught a class on antifascism inside. After organizers and volunteers blocked the exits, Patriot Front left and the book fair and my class continued uninterrupted.
Similarly, Occupy ICE SATX activists had put their camp back together by Saturday afternoon. Supporters trickled in with fresh supplies and physical support as word spread of the attack.
We're up and running. Fuck fascists. We're here to shut this shit down. If you want to support get down here. 3523 Crosspoint Street. pic.twitter.com/aEJcHfVj2Z
— Occupy ICE SATX (@abolishICEsatx) July 28, 2018
Nazis Recognize ICE as Part of ‘A New Form of Ethnic Cleansing’
Fascists with ties to the well-known white supremacist group Patriot Prayer made a similar attack on an OccupyICE encampment in Portland recently. According to Mapache, these attacks highlight the connections between ICE and fascism. Our immigration laws are inherently a white supremacist institution. Patriot Front acted where police have, so far, been mostly unwilling to interfere. They both uphold the same system.
Mapache told me that the Patriot Front nazis defended ICE because they recognize ICE is part of “a new form of ethnic cleansing.”
“Before the state could step in or wanted to step in, it was these fucking fascists who attempted to intimidate us and to protect ICE and what they’re doing,” Mapache said.
The OccupyICE movement represents an opportunity to fight back against fascism at multiple levels, from the streets to the institutions of federal government.
Mapache told me they’re looking for people “willing to take whatever actions are needed to make sure that this facility does not function, and that ICE itself does not function in San Antonio.”
But if you’re nearby, head to 3523 Crosspoint Drive and show your solidarity in person. Mapache says they’re always looking for more people, as well as “bags of frozen water” to help keep cool.