Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Anti-Patriarchy, Featured, Southeast, White Supremacy
Report back on antifascist mobilization against the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front, who attempted to march at the anti-abortion, ‘March for Life’ rally in DC in late January.
We, speaking as DC AFA, Frederick AF, DCYLF, MDYLF and other DC community members united against Patriot Front on January 21, 2022 during the National March for Life (M4L) demonstration in Washington, DC.
Patriot Front is a neo-Nazi, white nationalist organization whose membership stretches across the country. The group is “known for its disconcerting masked ‘flash rallies’ and racist sticker campaigns, showing up unannounced to march in cities and leave behind propaganda. The group was organized by Thomas Rousseau in the immediate aftermath of 2017’s Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, VA. Rousseau gained power within the group’s predecessor organization, Vanguard America, in the fallout from the nationally orchestrated event. After James Alex Fields, seen sporting a Vanguard America shield during the march, murdered Heather Heyer, Rousseau splintered off from Vanguard America, forming Patriot Front. Despite their group rules stating they don’t organize with other groups, recently leaked chats show connections to several other groups in both the neo-Nazi movement and the far-right broadly.” For a full run down of PF’s activities & neo-Nazi affiliations, check Unicorn Riot’s recent report.
Spotted in DC: anti-Patriot Front stickers on Capitol Hill pic.twitter.com/6D3WdcLHyd
— Andrew Blake (@apblake) February 3, 2022
We started preparing approximately three weeks ahead of Patriot Front’s arrival after audio was leaked from their internal meeting. The audio confirmed that they would be joining the anti-abortion, conservative Christian march. Given what happened with their embarrassing failure in Chicago, it was clear that PF would be on edge when they showed up in DC.
That Friday at 12pm, Patriot Front was spotted on the ground. They were immediately surrounded by a large contingency of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who acted as their security. MPD took directions from Rousseau, the leader of the white nationalist organization, and formed a barrier on all sides around the fascists, escorting them as they attempted to march alongside the rest of M4L. On the ground (OTG) teams were in place when Patriot Front arrived and were able to follow them, some heckling the group while others focused on documentation.
From the moment they arrived at the march it was clear there was a high level of coordination between PF and MPD. MPD Commander Glover stayed right by Tommy’s side, continuously checking in and even taking directions from him the entire time they were on the ground. MPD initially staged Patriot Front in front of the M4L, which held up the event up for 45 minutes while they struggled to assemble due to counter-protestor disruption and police attempts to protect them. Counter-protestors, however, immediately surrounded the cops who had formed a buffer around PF, slowing down the entire march. As the group moved, MPD attempted to push counter-protestors back with their bikes.
Neo-fascist group Patriot Front and their contingent of about 50 people are trying to join the national March for Life in the same way they did in Chicago. They’ve marched onto Constitution Avenue surrounded by cops, with a small group of counter-protesters heckling them. pic.twitter.com/mDDNRqEBsB
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) January 21, 2022
Counter-protestor disruption continuously held up PF so much that it took them 10 minutes to make it half a block. MPD was forced to move them to the sidewalk, where they waited for another 45 minutes as the rest of the march passed them by. Although most of the M4L crowd seemed confused and ambivalent about their presence, a handful of marchers expressed their distaste for the nazis, while a few groups of younger white guys took cards from PF that they’d managed to pass through the police line.
While stalled on the sidewalk, it was clear the heckling was taking its toll on many of the members. Although some were able to maintain a serious appearance, many of them, particularly the younger members, seemed anxious that they were surrounded by counter-protestors harassing them and taking their pictures. Rousseau spent most of this time on the phone, looking flustered, having lost control of the situation as any semblance of organization the group had collapsed to the sound of a heckling crowd and a few failed attempts at chants. In an even more embarassing turn of events, Patriot Front was able to make it no more than a few more blocks before they were escorted by MPD to the Chinatown Metro station where they got held up trying to figure out how to get their flags and shields on the train. What they couldn’t carry, they loaded into a U-Haul. As all of this was unfolding, OTG communications members relayed information to the off-ground teams about Patriot Front’s locations as they tried to keep themselves together.
During the hold up, Unicorn Riot leaked all of their internal communications to the public. It seemed to dawn on Patriot Front members that their secret internal communications and membership structure was being broadcasted over the internet as hecklers in the crowd announced the data drop and began reading off the full names and hometowns of exposed members. The police continued to protect and serve the fascists and blocked off the Metro entrance until Patriot Front was safely on the platform. MPD’s continued insistence on protecting PF and other fash groups when they come to town highlights the importance of community defense. The state, and the police as its extension and enforcers, have shown consistently that the safety of fascists will always come before ours. Our safety is in our own hands, we only have each other.
Patriot Front had its data leaked. This video sums them up pretty nicely:
Camera on: We aren’t Nazis!
Camera off: “Seig fucking Heil, let’s fucking go! I can say that now that it’s (the video) over.” pic.twitter.com/QgvyfG3qKg
— Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen) January 21, 2022
There’s a lot we can take away from J21, particularly given the unique opportunity we had to prepare for Patriot Front’s arrival. The leak allowed us around three weeks of research and preparation to effectively mobilize, and overall, the mobilization was largely a success. We, along with other unaffiliated community members that showed up to harass the ugly khaki-wearing nazis, were able to prevent PF from marching more than a few blocks. Usually the police don’t give a shit about wasting public money, it’s generally all they do, but this time so much disruption was caused by different dispersed groups and the police presence required to address it was so large that even they had to draw a line. Patriot Front’s favorite tactic of “flash rallies,” which are supposed to produce an effect of shock and awe due to their matching outfits and a tight, organized marching formation, proved to be a total bust, as they hid behind a perimeter of police protection.
Additionally, we were able to track and tail Patriot Front well outside the city. This is largely due to extensive and consistent communication between all of the crews during the day, solid real-time remote intel gathering that was effectively relayed and utilized, and weeks of hard work from researchers. Bravery and continued solidarity was shown across the board. We learned lessons from mobilizing against Patriot Front that we will be keeping internal to our crews.
Patriot Front’s had a bad month, and it will only get worse for them. Since the data drop the day of this failed march in DC, the list of exposed PF members has grown. Here are the most recent identifications, thanks to the Unicorn Riot leak, find previously identified PF members here.