Filed under: Anti-fascist, Interviews
Under the cover of darkness on Saturday, July 4th, the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front drove into the city of Chicago after spending the previous night camping. Joined by members of the white nationalist New Jersey European Heritage Association, about 50 people in Patriot Front uniforms and shields marched onto empty streets for several minutes, before ending their glorious July 4th rally in the early morning hours of now was then technically July 5th.
This performative event, carried out in order to create content for online social media platforms in the hopes of drumming up new membership, was a “complete failure” according to an undercover antifascists who infiltrated the group, attended the rally, and spoke to It’s Going Down over email after the event.
Patriot Front, a neo-Nazi group which wants to remove all non-whites from US + create a fascist state, held a late-night march in #Chicago on Saturday after their plans to rally in the city were exposed. Their latest photo-opt attracted only 50; much less than recent DC event. pic.twitter.com/HQzD5p6JAU
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 6, 2020
They reported that the Chicago rally was plagued with problems, from It’s Going Down publishing on social media that the group would hold an event in Chicago on Saturday, to complete paranoia around potential surveillance, and also getting pulled over by the police after the “demonstration” was completed.
Wanting to know more about what went down, we caught up with them to learn more.
IGD: So tell us broadly what happened in Chicago?
What an unbelievable waste of time, and complete failure by PF. There were cops everywhere the whole time, including at the campground, and Thomas Rousseau and crew were unable to function because they were so scared. We didn’t leave for Chicago until after 10pm and didn’t actually do the demonstration until after midnight. Nobody was there to see it besides a few cops, and it only lasted a few minutes.
They’ve been bragging online about it being on Independence Day, but technically it wasn’t. Afterwards the cops pulled over one of the box trucks, made everybody get out, and then sit in a parking lot for an hour while the group got the passenger vans back from the staging point to pick them up.
They had to have a police guard because they were afraid of something happening while they sat and waited. Everybody was completely defeated after getting stopped by the cops. They didn’t arrest anybody because it was for seat-belt violations and I think they were overwhelmed because it was around 50 guys in the truck. I don’t see how any member wouldn’t be completely embarrassed.
IGD: Why did Patriot Front go to Chicago? What was their goal?
I think it was for the location. Thomas thought he would get more people if he did it in the middle of the country, versus east/west coast. It backfired, way less showed up than expected. New York and Texas seem to have the most [Patriot Front] guys. There were also about a dozen guys from [the] New Jersey European Heritage Association; they were a bunch of hardcore Nazis, and seemed older than most of the PF guys. Most of the PF guys are clean cut or nerdy; these guys looked more like stereotypical Nazis.
New Jersey European Heritage Association group photo. SOURCE: ADL
IGD: They only had 50 march in Chicago as opposed to the 200 or more who marched in DC in February, what happened? Are numbers falling? They also did an event in San Francisco, which had a small turnout as well.
I didn’t know the SF event was happening, nobody talked about it at the event I was at. Numbers [for the whole group are] between 275-300, according to my network director (who sucks, by the way). I think a lot of people didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to drive all the way to Wisconsin/Illinois.
IGD: Explain what happened on the night of July 4th. They had problems with the police where they were camped?
There were cops (that’s what everyone was saying, but there were no standard squad cars) watching us at the campground during the day. A park ranger came once to check that people paid, that was the only actual cop I saw; but everyone was super paranoid. Really paranoid for a bunch of guys claiming they don’t do anything illegal.
IGD: Why are they doing things so late at night?
Fear most likely. There was hardly anybody on the street when we actually did the stupid Nazi march. I’m sure it would have been a lot different if we went in the middle of the afternoon. There were plenty of guys that I could tell wanted to get into a fight, but I think the late night choice was Thomas trying to avoid us all getting our asses kicked. That was my fear – I definitely don’t want to get arrested, or get my ass kicked over this.
IGD: Did It’s Going Down publicizing that they were going to be in Chicago that day have any impact on them?
Yes, they thought they had a mole. Pretty sure that’s why they took [our] phones (this was my first large event, everything else I’ve been to, I’ve been able to keep my phone).
ALERT! Reliable sources are reporting that the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front may hold a rally in #Chicago tomorrow – much like their recent rally in DC. Patriot Front marched in Charlottesville and wants to remove all non-white people from the US and create a fascist state. pic.twitter.com/3ZpfFUM19Q
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 4, 2020
IGD: They seem very worried about potentially running into antifascists or community members who would oppose them, why is this?
They want to get one minute of good footage that can be edited into a video to recruit new members. The average PF member wants to fight, or at least says they do, but Thomas only wants more members. Making the org larger and gaining more power in the movement is his goal.
IGD: Why do you think they are organizing these events, which essentially seem to just be propaganda displays to the rest of the white nationalist movement?
It all comes back to Thomas. He rules with an iron fist. He wants to grow the org, and if we all got arrested as a group, even for something small, it would probably be over. Most of these idiots have never even gotten a speeding ticket, so spending a night in jail would definitely chase them away.
Neo-Nazi groups like #PatriotFront are not welcome in #Tempe #Arizona or anywhere else. This banner was taken down as fast as it went up and quickly dispatched of by local anarchists. pic.twitter.com/H9FaE0s1Fj
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) May 5, 2020
IGD: You paint the event as a disaster, why?
Everyone was expecting to be in downtown Chicago, marching around, being scary Nazis, fighting the evil antifa, but instead did physical training and then spent all afternoon sitting around and trying to stay out of the sun. Then we did a demonstration in front of nobody; it technically wasn’t even on July 4th, and then we all got pulled out of a box truck and made to sit around waiting for the vans to go drop people off and come back for us. I thought a few guys might cry when they thought we were all getting arrested.
IGD: Does this failure cause tension within Patriot Front? They come out of groups which are known to split and fall apart; its surprising that PF has lasted this long.
People weren’t happy, but nobody spoke up. Thomas is the reason PF has lasted, ([though], don’t get me wrong, he’s a douche-bag and has serious issues). He’s charismatic, and seems smart to these guys. He is a jerk to people at times, but makes them feel important and gives them purpose, even though they’re fucking losers with absolutely nothing going on in their lives.
IGD: Anything else you’d like to add?
These guys are so pathetic I almost feel bad for spying on them and helping dox them…almost!