Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Northwest, Queer, Trans
If you thought “antifa” was gone from Seattle and neighboring communities, you were wrong. On Saturday, June 17th, some 75+ local anarchists and community members convened on the plaza of the Lynnwood Event Center to face off against TERFs and the local III%, a far-Right militia.
A younger, newer organizer first identified the problem when Sovereign Women Speak (SWS) posted a flyer about a protest to support a spa that had been taken to the Seattle District Court and received a ruling denying them the ability to continue its discriminatory practice of refusing access to transwomen. That organizer reached out to other young organizers that had previously organized large and successful marches for trans lives in the last few months. Together, they made contact with various allies and accomplices to coordinate a counter-protest. Social media was blasted with flyers and printouts were posted all over Lynnwood and neighboring area – all within about a week. With such short notice, and during Pride month when so many antifascists are committed to supporting non-corporate Pride events to help keep people safe, it was an impressive feat for these young up and comers.
SWS has a sordid local history in the Pacific Northwest, known for their proud trans exclusionist activities and propaganda. This event would not be the first time they actively recruited III% to attend and speak at their rally – they did this in Port Townsend last September, too. SWS advocates for trans women to be forced into men’s prisons where they face terrible violence, that gender affirming surgery is a myth, that all trans people and drag queens are groomers, and so on. They’re not the brightest crayons in the box – they originally posted a flyer and address for the wrong spa location and had to change it before it gained traction.
In response to flyers posted online by local trans activists and antifascists, SWS openly recruited not only III% but far-Right anti-LGBTQ extremist group Gays Against Groomers (GAG). They tagged every right-wing fascist, so-called reporter Andy Ngo, and more in their tweets to fearmonger the threat of big bad antifa violence. Comments on their twitter posts included open calls for violence against “trantifa.”
SWS, GAG, and III% posted flyers calling for protesters to meet outside the spa. So-called reporter Jonathan Choe tweeted about the event taking place at the nearby Lynnwood Event Center, all scheduled for 2pm. They circulated each other’s information, seeming disorganized but determined to stoke fear. Their scrambling mostly demonstrated their fear of antifascist response.
A collective decision was made by all the businesses in the plaza the spa is in to close that Saturday. This included a Chuck E Cheese – sorry kids, no rat pizza or you. The Lynnwood Police blocked off access to the parking lot entrances on all sides and placed barricades in front of the spa which had boarded its windows by Friday. Lynnwood Police called in for “mutual aid” support from the Edmonds, Bothell, and Mulkitea Police Departments. Edmonds police showed up in riot gear about halfway through the day, though Lynnwood PD claimed all officers from all departments were wearing standard protective gear. Pepper ball guns and helmets are now standard protective gear by that metric.
Antifascists arrived to the scene at 1:30pm, and SWS had already staged a large speaker system and had a handful of people in their crowd right outside the Lynnwood Event Center. Lynnwood PD had about 6 officers forming a line designated the area between the two protesting groups. All officers were facing antifascists at first, as if protecting their white supremacist brethren. They would later be directed to rotate every other officer to be facing the other side.
An umbrella wall, speaker playing the gayest copyrighted music, and a bunch of local queers of all ages held our side with us. TERFs and III% spent most of their time and energy trying to capture photos of our mostly covered faces. SWS tried to have people give speeches, but our chanting and music drowned them out and prevented them from finishing. They played copyrighted music of their own, effectively preventing themselves from being able to livestream or use longer clips of their event. All fascist “reporters” tried their best to cut up their footage to make themselves look good, but they were not super successful. The copyrighted music made it hard to post to social media and with our umbrella wall and the police line they had trouble getting meme-able reactions from us that could go viral.
At one point, the antifascists played the national anthem, and the song “Proud to be an American,” at which point the TERFs actually turned off their own music to sing along while the antifascists laughed at them. They could not reconcile being upset with us for playing it and their need to stand with their hand over their heart and cry that we were anti-American terrorists.
It was estimated that the fash had around 70 people on their side at peak of the protest, with antifascists having more. Due to the inequitable space provided for the counter-protest, the fash were able to spread out more and make themselves appear bigger. But cameras don’t lie, and their own drone footage showed how much we outnumbered them.
Cars driving by honked in support of the comrades standing on the perimeter of the area with their trans pride flags. One man driving by yelled “groomer” out his window, but did not honk, someone yelled back that he was a soy boy and a cuck.
We outlasted them on the scene, as their numbers dwindled by 4pm and their sweaty, tired faces made it clear they wanted to go home. One of their facilitators informed the Lynnwood PD’s commanding officer that they would be leaving. Their propagandists claimed that we were actually the ones who were not from the area, but by researching their bus – labeled Dab Star – we found that this company is from Colorado, not Washington, and certainly not the Greater Seattle Area. It is owned by a conservative activist.
Our goal was simple – be bigger, louder, and prouder than the TERFs. Antifascists sang them off with, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, fuck off!” They boarded their party bus and once gone, antifascists proclaimed victory over the space and ensured everyone had safe means to exit the area as needed.