Report from HOPE Conference, a gathering of hackers, which pushed to have several Alt-Right trolls removed.
On Saturday, 2600 and HOPE Conference organizers refused to remove fascist and white nationalist disruptors from HOPE 2018 — including a man who appeared to be carrying a concealed weapon and who bragged about marching in the #UniteTheRight white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. HOPE claims to provide a “harassment-free conference experience for everyone,” however, on multiple occasions when the fascist attendees were reported to security for intimidation and harassment, HOPE security refused to intervene and even defended their presence at the event. The fascist attendees menaced other conference goers, cornering them, following them down the street, and threatening them; one even called the police on a conference attendee in retaliation for grabbing his hat. Following numerous complaints, HOPE finally expelled one white nationalist (with a full refund), but allowed all of the other fascists to remain at the conference and intimidate attendees.
HOPE’s Code of Conduct states that anyone can attend the conference “regardless of race, class, gender identity or expression, age, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, personal appearance, or education level, text editor choice, and other aspects.” But creating space for fascists obviates the possibility of free speech. White nationalists are interested in violence, not speech, and allowing them into our community creates a chilling effect on all other participants’ freedom of expression. This is especially true for people who belong to marginalized groups that fascists often target for violence, such as people of color, trans and queer folks, and people with disabilities. In the past, HOPE has been criticized for providing a platform to speakers accused of stalking and sexual assault. Will they also be known as an organization that allows space for Nazis and fascists as well?
Due to the events that were witnessed today we, the undersigned, are vocalizing our anger and outrage at the organizers and security staff for refusing to remove these fascist disruptors. We are left without faith in the mechanism designed to protect our expression, community-building, and physical well-being. Let this document rest as a declaration of no confidence in HOPE’s code of conduct mechanism at the time of writing, and, more importantly, rejecting any instances of fascism, nationalism, racist dogma and symbolism in our space.
Black Movement Law Project
Digital Freedom Initiative
Four Thieves Vinegar Collective
Lucy Parsons Labs
Technology Action Project