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May 30

Revoking Permits Won’t Stop Fascism; Only Direct Action Can

In the wake of two horrific racist murders and another near fatal stabbing on board a Portland MAX train, anger has mounted nationally at the Alt-Right, which in the last several months across North America, has carried out a series of targeted killings, arson attacks, and violent rallies against people of color, places of worship and LGBTQI centers, and antifascist demonstrators.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, the man suspected in the killings, attended the last “Free Speech” rally organized by local Patriot, Alt-Right, and militia groups, yelling racial epitaphs and giving Nazi salutes. The same far-Right militants that organized this demonstration are also putting together yet another “Free Speech” rally on June 4th, and are even flying out various Alt-Right talking heads such as Kyle Chapman, aka, “The Alt-Knight,” and Baked Alaska, who was kicked out of one Washington DC Trump celebration for posting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic statements and images. The same group is also planning another June 10th rally against the Muslim community. 

In the course of only a few days, a counter-demonstration called for by the long running groups, Rose City Antifa and the Pacific Northwest Antifascist Workers Collective, along with a host of anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-capitalist organizations, on Facebook has grown in size many times over.

Opportunist Leninist groups, such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO), who only weeks ago were ‘riot-shaming‘ the black bloc for helping families evacuate a police attack on May Day, have now attempted to throw themselves into ring, calling a protest outside of City Hall, adjacent to the antifascist counter-demonstration and the Alt-Right rally.

With anger brewing in Portland and across the country against a steady stream of Alt-Right inspired murders, attacks, and acts of terror, the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, has begged Alt-Right organizers to cancel their rally and pushed the federal government to deny their June 4th permit (the ‘anti-federal government’ militia groups are rallying in a federal park), and is refusing to grant them one for the upcoming anti-Muslim demonstration on June 10th.

In response, local news media wrote that “Patriot Prayer” lead organizer, Joey Gibson stated that, “[I]f the permit is revoked, the event could be more dangerous. He said he won’t be able to kick people out if they’re causing problems.” Gibson plans to meet with the Mayor on Tuesday, but his recent statements seem especially cryptic. According to Gibson, if the State does not protect them from counter-demonstrators, then he won’t be able to stop white nationalists from taking part in his rally. Being that Gibson has never done anything about open neo-Nazis and white nationalists being part of his demonstrations, we don’t see how anything will be different this time around.

In response to both moves by Wheeler and Gibson, Rose City Antifa has made their position very clear. In a statement on twitter they wrote:

There are serious problems with the state intervening in matters of speech and assembly, which is why we emphasize direct community action. These type of government actions often end up targeting the left in much harsher ways. Political repression comes down harder on those challenging existing oppressive conditions rather than those enforcing status quo. We have never endorsed state repression of fascists, the state cannot be trusted with such power. We believe in community self-defense [in the face of] Gibson’s rallies [that] have incited thugs to believe they have the right to kill anyone that interferes with their white nationalist intimidation. We do not oppose free speech. We have consistently opposed hate crimes laws and state censorship. We believe in community self defense. The state will not defend you from white nationalist thugs. Only grassroots organized community self-defense will.

The city of Portland isn’t interested in stopping fascism just as much as it isn’t interested in stopping capitalism. What it is interested in doing is managing and controlling a potentially explosive situation with thousands of people converging against the Alt-Right.

Wheeler: Against Popular Eruptions of Power, Not White Supremacy

Several things should be made crystal clear: the Mayor of Portland and the State in general does not care about white supremacist violence; this society is built upon it and it uses it to function. From the police which uphold the status-quo, repress protests, evict people, roundup and deport immigrants, and shoot people down in the streets, to the daily structural white supremacy our economy, without racialized power and violence, American capitalism simply couldn’t function.

But what the State does care about is suppressing riots, strikes, and popular eruptions of people in the street, in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools. This was clear on September 9th of last year, when hundreds of people across Portland converged to target corporations profiting from prison slavery and were met with aggressive riot police. This was true during the popular revolt against the inauguration of Donald Trump that were met with even more police repression, attacks from the Right, and denunciations from the Left. It was also especially true on May Day when police attacked a march of families and children, when only weeks before they had sent buses to aid Alt-Right demonstrators at pro-Trump rally. The State attacked these aforementioned mobilizations because they were disruptive and sought to attack the status-quo, while giving a free pass for the far-Right to mobilize, rally, and grow.

And at the end of the day, whatever personal feelings the Mayor or those in the city government feel about the stabbings is immaterial, what they are interested in is not the stamping out of the growing threat of white nationalists and Alt-Right terror and murder on June 4th, what they are concerned about is preventing a riot. 

Case in point, on April 29th, when Mayor Wheeler showed up to the “Free Speech” rally that was also attended by a variety of far-Right, Alt-Right, and neo-Nazi participants, including Christian himself, who yelled racial slurs and gave fascist salutes, Wheeler walked through the crowd and shook hands with both protesters and police officers. This strategy in itself was designed to try and contain the demonstration and prevent clashes from getting out of the control of law enforcement, just as the use of buses to evacuate the Alt-Right demonstrators was designed to protect them at all costs. By and large it also worked, due to the heavy police presence the Alt-Right was able to hold their rally and it was protected from the public by police.

On June 4th however, it does not seem feasible that either the Mayor will be able to calm the crowd down or the police on their own will be able to prevent an angry public from confronting the Alt-Right. The reason is quite clear: due to the murders, people are fed up and enough people are willing to take to the streets that even a large amount of riot police may not be able to contain them.

Thus, we should see the Mayor’s push to revoke the permits of these Alt-Right rallies in this context. The State is making a clear and direct move: instead of doing what it usually does, using police to protect the fascists in order to contain anarchists and antifascists, now their strategy is simply to stop the event from happening and getting everyone to go home.

Permit or not, at this point it makes little difference. If the permit is revoked, all this means is that police in theory would not protect the Alt-Right demonstration from counter-demonstrators. But even this seems unlikely. In Berkeley on April 15th, despite not having a permit, Berkeley police worked for weeks with Alt-Right organizers in order to carry out the rally and also to attack antifascist demonstrators. Afterwards, Berkeley police went on to use information gathered by neo-Nazis on 4chan to arrest one antifascist demonstrator after raiding two houses. In short, permit or not, police are sure to mobilize to turn downtown Portland into a police state and focus their energies on policing anarchists and antifascists.

As our comrades in Rose City Antifa pointed out, this government repression is aimed more at the broader population mobilizing against the fascist threat than the fascists themselves.

The Fascists: Pushing Towards Violent Clashes At All Costs

The response from the Alt-Right to the stabbings has been telling. Talking heads like Mike Cernovich have spun the events as a “Leftist False Flag.” Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer denounced the stabbings through tweets, however his website, AltRight.com, has unsurprisingly yet to run an article even mentioning the rising amount of attacks. Meanwhile, fellow neo-Nazis and white nationalists, such as Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer (who has worked with Spencer) offered passive support of the murders, claiming that if non-white people are living in the United States, they should expect to be attacked until they are forced to leave, and that anyone getting in the way of such attacks should be considered a target as well. Meanwhile, the rank-n-file Alt-Right on 4chan’s /pol/ forum applauded the attacks and called for more of the same.

Meanwhile, in the halls of power, some Republicans are looking to officially make far-Right militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the III%ers an auxiliary police force in order to better repress demonstrations:

Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal, however, told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives to “abandoning the public square”.

“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” he said. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”

Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”

Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

This kind of stance is growing, even among establishment Republicans. Just yesterday in Dallas in the middle of protests against ICE, one Republican lawmaker called ICE on the entire demonstration before going on to threaten to shoot one person in the head. 

When we speak of a fascist creep within bourgeois politics, it is exactly this. It is the push to deputize, normalize, and to physically make a part of the State sections of the insurgent far-Right. It is also the use of insurgent far-Right violence by the ruling order, or the threat of it, against social movements which are attempting to push back on the status-quo, that is so frightening, especially at a time when grassroots mobilization and resistance is so needed. 

Above all, the insurgent far-Right in the United States wants to continue to push for broad based conflicts within the greater population. This is both why it continues to seek internal enemies: anarchists, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, antifascists, and immigrants, and also why it is building an internal culture off of needing to provoke and create violence to justify it’s existence.

Where this is heading is clear. Both in terms of continued murders and acts of terror, and also through a continuation of violent and aggressive far-Right demonstrations.

In response, we need to both reject the repressive paternalism of the neoliberal State, but also the growing fascist push from the grassroots far-Right. In doing so, we need to embrace our ability to disrupt, shut down, and fight back in a variety of ways, both against the far-Right and the State itself.

The Path Ahead

In many ways, it was only the fact that Jeremy Joseph Christian killed two middle class white men, that such a stir was caused on such a national scale. After all, at this point, the murder of a young African-American man like Richard Collins III or the burning of a mosque is now hardly news. Even in the days immediately the Christian stabbings, a man in Clearlake, California carried out another racially motivated stabbing attack, while in Orange County, California a white couple attacked an Asian man, putting him in the hospital. Again, these attacks have barely made it into the national cycle, while the Portland stabbings have in an oh-so Nightcrawler Esque way, continued to keep the media’s attention. The reason for this is clear, Christian’s victims don’t fit the mold and are thus exceptional. 

We need to recognize this reality and understand that acts of murder and terror are being carried out by the Alt-Right at an increasing rate. We should also understand that as horrific as they are, the Portland attacks also give us an opportunity to talk about the threat of fascism and white supremacy to large amount of people. Let’s seize this opportunity and run with it as far as we can.

Permit or not, the Alt-Right and far-Right are gathering in Portland on June 4th and again on June 10th. If we are to oppose them and begin to turn the tables against far-Right terror and violence, then we have to mobilize to shut them down, humiliate them, and run them fucking out of town. 

This is something that the State will never aid us in doing and will attempt at every turn to hinder our efforts; even going so far as to help the fascists defeat us in order to preserve the status-quo.

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It's Going Down

It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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