Statement on the Far-Right’s Attempt to Criminalize Protest of Concentration Camp Deaths and Hate Groups

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Statement from Rose City Antifa about the recent push from two US Senators to label antifascists a domestic terrorist organization.

On July 18, 2019, two U.S. Senators introduced a resolution attempting to designate “antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization. In a week that saw a Trump rally featuring a racist chant for the deportation of a progressive, black Muslim congresswoman, there can be no clearer sign as to where we are at, than this effort to declare anti-fascism itself illegal. The Republican party is explicitly targeting political opposition. There is no definition of “antifa” outlined in the resolution. “Antifa” is used as a warning. It is shorthand for the dissenters who won’t be brought to heel. If passed, this resolution would be a powerful new weapon for silencing leftists and dissent in the U.S.

“These Senators would make that dissent illegal. And so we, as anti-fascists, condemn their resolution absolutely.”

In this resolution, the Senators specifically mentioned anti-fascists in Portland, targeting our community for defending itself from the fascists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists who have assaulted our city for the past three years. Portland has been a target for the most violent elements of the right because of its progressive character. The strategy of the far-right has been to attack the left wherever we have the audacity to exist: in higher education, in Berkeley, at Pride events, at union meetings, at Planned Parenthood, and in a symbolic city of progressive values such as Portland. It is not enough for them to have their own conservative communities, the presidency, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the massive right-wing media apparatus and funding base; they also must harass, violently attack, and terrorize anyone anywhere who dares to disagree with their oppressive views.

The rationale for this resolution is a manufactured threat which only exists in the absence of critical thought and inquiry. The greatest domestic political threat in the U.S. today is the far-right. The far-right committed 98% of ideologically-driven murders in 2018. We have seen that death toll here in Portland. Larnell Bruce, a black teenager, was brutally murdered by a white supremacist outside a 7-11 in 2016. In 2017, Jeremy Christian, a Patriot Prayer rally attendee and white supremacist, fatally stabbed two passengers and seriously injured a third passenger on a Portland MAX train after they attempted to stop him from harassing two women of color. Proud Boys have driven around our city streets looking for people to assault. LGBT+ community members have been repeatedly attacked, and they have been called liars when they organize to defend themselves. The Portland Police Bureau has assisted the right at every turn. Stories like this are echoed all over the country. This is the true threat of our times.

Anti-fascists have protected numerous community events, spaces, and demonstrations from fascist violence. Anti-fascist have suppressed and stopped fascist activity and recruiting; disseminated valuable information to communities about threats to their safety; produced research and writing which would not otherwise occur; provided care and support to members of our community impacted by fascist threats and violence; hosted educational events on a variety of issues; conducted benefits for vital services like reproductive rights; and much more. Anti-fascist action works. The Proud Boys, after invading our city multiple times and causing grievous injuries to community members, failed to show up to their June 29, 2019 rally (named the “Battle of Portland Part 2”) after a diverse coalition of activists gathered to oppose them. Anti-fascist organizing in Portland is part of a larger anti-racist and anti-oppression movement that has been working for decades to disrupt white supremacist rallies from Berkeley to Charlottesville.

The vast majority of what anti-fascists do does not involve black outfits at protests. Anti-fascists are easy to dehumanize with superficial commentary on the clothing and masks that some use to protect themselves. But anti-fascists are your neighbors. Some anti-fascists are people fighting for our lives and dignity, because we are people of color, queer, trans, of a targeted ethnicity or religion. Some anti-fascists are people who are cashing in on our privileges to protect those who are more vulnerable. Anti-fascists are regular people: moms, teachers, carpenters, servers, healthcare workers, and veterans. Fighting against the oppression, bigotry, and violence that we call fascism requires ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Stopping fascist activity is a goal common to all people of conscience. These Senators would call us all domestic terrorists.

Not every person of conscience agrees on tactics, but they would all be considered terrorists according to this proposed resolution, because they declare themselves opposed to white supremacists and concentration camps. This resolution would open the door violations of their civil rights. If “antifa” are terrorists, so are the thousands of Portlanders who stood against Patriot Prayer on June 4, 2017 and August 4, 2018, and the hundreds who peacefully blockaded the ICE offices in SW Portland. It would call the activists and spiritual leaders who stood against white supremacists in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, 2017 domestic terrorists. It is no surprise that these Senators are proposing this measure now, as rallies against ICE are drawing attention to the deaths occurring in U.S. refugee concentration camps. People across this continent see the atrocity that these camps represent, and are demanding that the government stop causing suffering and death through its racist immigration policies. These Senators would make that dissent illegal. And so we, as anti-fascists, condemn their resolution absolutely.

Statement of Anti-Fascists and Allies

We, the undersigned, wholly condemn any attempt to criminalize community efforts to stop white supremacist assaults and close concentration camps.

We condemn any attempt to persecute community groups who research racist threats in their community, and educate the people so that they might stop it.

We condemn any attempt by the far-right to strike a blow against their political opponents by demonizing the actions of human beings of conscience.

We condemn any attempt to protect the far-right gangs who make violent incursions into liberal communities.

We condemn any attempt to shield fascism, by attacking those who are in opposition to it.

In history, we have seen what happens when the state criminalizes dissent, when right-wing gangs are allowed to terrorize and kill with impunity, and when the police arrest those whose morality will not allow them to stand by, while immigrants and refugees are imprisoned in camps to die. As a community, we refuse to allow it to happen here. We have stood up to the forces of the far-right before, and now we must do so again.

Signed,

  • Rose City Antifa
  • Pop Mob
  • Q-CAFE
  • Pacific Northwest Antifascist Workers Collective
  • Seattle Solidarity Network
  • National Lawyers Guild Lewis and Clark Student Chapter
  • Cascades Abortion Support Collective
  • Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
  • Socialist Alternative Portland
  • Southern Oregon Antifa
  • Eugene Antifa
  • Gresham Antifa
  • Antifa Seven Hills
  • Indivisible Bloomington & 9th District, Indiana
  • Berkeley Antifa
  • ItsGoingDown.org

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