Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Pacific
Report from the Inland Empire, in southern California about antifascists taking action against the Proud Boys.
On Friday May 12th, in the Inland Empire, (southern California, for those unfamiliar), local Proud Boys escalated their tactics significantly. The last several months they have been doing banner drops about once a month at freeway overpasses and have been thwarted by a rapid response network of local antifascists who quickly remove the banners. The banners usually feature transphobic messages, attacks against local community groups, and other messages of hate. The banners always feature stencils of Proud Boy logos. The banner drops seem to correspond with events they intend to participate in or harass, like school board meetings, fascist rallies, and drag queen story times.
On May 12th they attempted to lay a trap. They put a banner up on a billboard slightly off the beaten path near an abandoned house, visible from a freeway in Colton, CA. They have done this once before, but this time they had lookouts and several members masked up and hiding near the banner waiting for antifascists to come and remove it.
Antifascists ran up and removed the banner once the lookout, IDed as local Proud Boy Louie Flores waiting in a white Hyundai Tucson license plate 8XRR563, left in his car to do a lap. Shortly after the antifascists drove off with the banner, multiple black clad, presumably Proud Boys, emerged from hiding behind the billboard, possibly in the abandoned house or surrounding brush. They were seen getting into Louie’s car when he returned and then drove off.
Me and a friend were posted the bottom of the hill when we got word that Louie was on the move. Then, behind my car, 3 men in all black and face coverings came down the hill. One of them was Philip Aplinshook. They walked passed and around my car, but did not interact with it. pic.twitter.com/tsoTMqPjs7
— eyerollsandbloodlust (@eyerollsnblood) May 13, 2023
It is unclear what they planned to do, or why they did not take action. It is possible that their lookout abandoning his post briefly once he’d been spotted meant they were not alerted about people approaching to remove the banner. It is possible that they were expecting a local antifascist mom who bullies them on TikTok to be the person who removed the banner, and when different people arrived, they abandoned their plan.
What is certain is that this is an escalation from their usual patterns, and someone could have been surrounded and seriously hurt had the situation happened differently. Luckily in addition to the brave folks who ran up the hill to grab the banner, several other antifascists were also present nearby watching and filming. The decision to wait for backup before moving on the banner was a smart one, and no one from the antifascist crew was confronted or attacked.
Two additional banners were also dropped at nearby freeway overpasses and were removed without incident.
This is a reminder to use the buddy system, carry deterrents like pepper spray, and work together when taking risky actions.