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Mar 14, 18

A Report Back from #StopSpencer Weekend in Michigan

The following report back comes from the May 1st Anarchist Alliance and discusses the mass antifascist mobilization that was organized on March 4th and 5th.

By BD, First of May Anarchist Alliance – Detroit Collective

“The fascists say race war. We say class war.  And as Charlottesville and Gainesville and Lansing show, it’s not enough just to say it. We have to do it. And we have to organize and reach out broadly in our communities and our cities and our states and regions and across borders.”

On March 5th in East Lansing, Michigan, the anti-fascist movement took an important step forward.  Anti-fascist fighters from East Lansing, across Michigan and with support from across the region, came together and shutdown Spencer and the fascists in metro Detroit and in Lansing.  The fascists planned a Sunday, March 4th conference in the Detroit area and the Spencer event at MSU in Lansing on March 5th.

Stop Spencer at MSU, Solidarity and Defense and other groups and many other people organized to build the fight against the fascists in Michigan.  Solidarity and Defense (S&D) held a statewide conference in Lansing in January, which helped to coordinate forces and organizing for March 4th and 5th.  People had meetings on campuses and in communities to build for the fight against the fascists. People developed articles and newsletters and flyers and social media to discuss the fascist threat and the attacks on our communities and our people.  We worked hard to connect the fight against the fascists and racist attacks with the fight against government attacks and police attacks on the Black community and immigrant communities. We worked to make the connection that the MSU administration providing space and security for the fascists, is the same MSU administration which allowed Larry Nassar to attack and abuse women at MSU for more than 20 years. It’s the same administration, which refused to act even though women had reported these attacks for more than 20 years.  Women organized to oppose Nassar and the MSU administration. Anti-fascists organized to oppose Spencer and the MSU administration. We have to rely on ourselves.

Anti-fascists took the initiative for March 4th and 5th.  We worked in broad coalitions and worked to share information on the fascists’ plans and locations.  Many people worked together to find the fascists as they arrived in Michigan for the weekend. One important strength of this organizing and of S&D is that we are statewide; we have people in many cities and areas.  We had some local media help as well, some reporters who also developed information on the fascists’ plans. When we found out these nazis planned to have their March 4th meeting at a hall in Macomb County and an evening March 5th get together at a bar in Warren, word got out, people contacted these venues and the venues, to their credit, cancelled the events and would not allow the fascists to meet up at these locations.

When the fascists were trying to meet up at parking lots in Ann Arbor on Sunday evening, people  watched them and followed them and knew where the fascists were and the fascists knew anti-fascists were there and the broader community was there.  Anti-fascists kept the fascists on the run and on the defensive throughout the weekend.

People arrived early at MSU on Monday, March 5th.  We were there at noon, with Spencer scheduled for 4:30.  We had the parking lot near the MSU livestock pavilion where the fascist would speak.  People talked, people sang, there was a band, people played music and we prepared. About 2pm, we moved out towards the pavilion.  Arriving early was a good idea, and we took and held some ground around the entrances to the venue. Cops were all around but were spread all around; the venue was an open area outside the main campus of MSU and more like farm country.

We had a few hundred people who were out and determined to shut the fascists down and run them out.  When the first few fascists arrived and attempted to enter the hall, anti-fascists chased them off. Those particular fascists worked their way around to the road and enlisted police support to get them into the arena.  The cops moved to walk them in, but anti-fascists responded and pushed back and isolated them, surrounded by cops but still unable to enter. These three eventually did get into the event, but they took some hits and were worse for the wear.  In fact only a very few fascists and fascist supporters were able to get into the event, maybe about 20.

Another wannabe fuhrer, Heimbach, attempted to enter the event with his Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP) group of about 40 nazis, mainly dressed in black, trying to march, chanting “white power” and with the nazi salute.  Anti-fascists met them, opposed them and broke up their formation. The fascists could not enter. The fascists regrouped, and they tried again to enter the event. But again, the anti-fascist fighters pushed them back, drove them back and broke them up.  These fascists retreated and could not enter the event. They never did get into the event. The anti-fascist fighters in Lansing stopped them, forced them back and prevented them from attending the event. The fascists suffered a defeat. This was an important victory for the anti-fascist movement.

After the battle in Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist movement is becoming stronger, more united and more militant and more radical.  Gainesville was an important victory for our movement. This was Spencer’s event at the University of Florida last fall. People there organized to oppose the fascists outside of the event and did good work of it. Anti-fascists also went into the event and prevented Spencer from speaking.  Gainesville was an important turning point for the anti-fascist movement.

The anti-fascist fighters who turned out in Charlottesville and in Gainesville to oppose the fascists let the whole country know and the university administrations and the government know that the anti-fascist movement would not retreat and was growing and would turn out and would fight to oppose the fascists.  Spencer and Bristow and Padgett were planning events at Kent State and Ohio State and University of Cincinnati and Penn State and University of Michigan and Michigan State University (MSU). After Charlottesville and Gainesville, the universities knew they would have to spend big money on providing security for Spencer and his nazis.  At Gainesville, the University of Florida spent more than $500,000 to keep the nazis safe.

Some universities said they couldn’t provide space and couldn’t afford security.  Some said Spencer would have to pay significant money up front as security deposit for the event.  Spencer and Kyle Bristow, attorney for fascists, sued the universities, and MSU was the first to cave, agreeing to provide security for the fascists and a space for the event and paying Spencer’s attorney fees.  Anti-fascists at MSU and around Michigan organized against Spencer, the fascists and the MSU administration. Even on Tuesday morning, after the shutdown on Monday, Spencer was attempting to have coffee and do an interview in Lansing, but anti-fascists found him and chased him and his security guy and a couple of his minions out of Lansing.

What does it mean?  Spencer says he just wanted to have fun and safe events, where he could have intellectual discussions on college campuses.  Anti-fascists say nothing fun or safe about nazis or genocide or racist attacks or attacks on women or attacks on immigrants.  Nothing fun or safe about the murder of Heather Heyer. Spencer also says, after MSU, that his college campus tour or strategy is not working, and anti-fascists are preventing him from public organizing. He says he has to “rethink” his strategy, and his supporters should be patient and he will get back to them.

After the election of Trump and after a surge in support for white nationalists and fascists, the anti-fascist movement has gained strength and is moving forward.  We have won important battles at Charlottesville and Gainesville and Lansing. In a certain sense, we have turned the tide. But let’s not overstate this. This fight continues.  And we need to figure how we can move forward.

Our fight is not just against the fascists.  One of the strengths of the organizing in Lansing was that we made clear that we were against the fascists and the state.  We were and are against the fascists and the MSU administration and the attacks on women at MSU and the police attacks on our communities and the ICE attacks on our communities.  The same organizing efforts and determination we bring to the fight against the fascists, we have to bring to the fights opposing attacks on women, opposing police murders and brutality, opposing the ICE attacks on our communities, opposing the state.

The fight at MSU was organizing and mobilizing for defense of our communities.  It was community self defense. We need community self defense against the fascists and the police and ICE and the university administrations which are complicit in attacks on women.  The fight against the fascists is not a separate fight; it is part of the fight against the system which produces fascism and which attacks poor people and which attempts to scapegoat one section of the working class and divide us against each other so that the system and the billionaires who run it can continue to profit at our expense.

We have not defeated the fascists.  We have won a victory. We have not defeated white supremacy; the battle continues.  While Spencer and Heimbach and other fascists continue to claim white people are victims and Black people and Latinx people and immigrants and women are the enemy, the truth is clear: the ruling class, the billionaire class and their agents are the source of the attacks on working people and poor people.  Immigrants are not refusing to pay teachers a living wage. The Black community is not destroying the healthcare system and making health care unaffordable for millions. Women are not destroying public education. This system and the privileged few who profit from this system are the source of these attacks and are our enemies.

The fascists says white people should unite in a race war to defend the “white race” and white supremacy and to oppose and attack Latinx communities and Black people and immigrants and refugees and Muslims and Jews and “race-mixers” and women who speak their minds and LGBTQ people and anti-fascists and so on. We say working people and poor people should unite our forces, all of us together, to defeat the fascists and to overthrow this system and expropriate the wealth of the privileged few and their banks and corporations and put our resources and wealth to work for the good of all and for the health of our people and this planet. To defeat the fascists once and for all, this whole system has to go. To defeat the fascists once and for all, we have to defeat and end white supremacy and patriarchy and capitalism once and for all.

The fascists say race war. We say class war.  And as Charlottesville and Gainesville and Lansing show, it’s not enough just to say it. We have to do it. And we have to organize and reach out broadly in our communities and our cities and our states and regions and across borders. This is all out to fight and defeat the fascists. This is all out to organize and fight to defend our communities from fascist attacks and racist attacks and attacks on women. This is all out against ICE and the police and the courts and the prisons. This is all out to support teachers, and cafeteria workers and bus drivers and all workers. This is all out for health care and good housing and good schools for every person. This is the fight of our lives. This is the time to reach out, break out of isolation and organize on all these fronts.  This is all out to organize and fight for revolution, here and around the world.

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We are a new organization with its members having a much longer history of collaboration, in some instances reaching back to the 1980’s through an array of revolutionary anarchist organizing. With the creation of M1 we move from the informal affinity to being an established organizational presence; fully engaged with the broader anarchist, revolutionary and social movements.

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