Taking Down and Responding to Alt-Right Propaganda
Filed under: Getting Organized
Filed under: Getting Organized
This is the first installment of a new column entitled, Getting Organized, where we will cover basic advice on organizing in general, carrying out autonomous activity, tips on what to do and what not to do, and especially advice about how to get started for those that are new to the game. While in future columns we will discuss how to get up and going as both an individual and as a group, we wanted to start off with something really basic that everyone can and should be doing – taking down and destroying Alt-Right and far-Right stickers, posters, and flyers in your area.
I spotted this #IdentityEvropa sticker in downtown Atlanta and pulled down the cowardly vandal’s work.
I’m taking suggestion for how I should dispose of it. 😈 pic.twitter.com/iwujDEvFS1
— Know The Ledge (@CodeSwitchATL) November 30, 2018
While on the surface this seems like a pretty basic and perhaps even simplistic thing to talk about, we feel that outlining many of the factors, ideas, and practices which can go into this can inform a broad range of activity.
To start off, we have to think about the psychology of our enemies and why they do what they do. In general, anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and autonomist groups, crews, and individuals put up stickers, flyers, and posters in areas where we frequent and want to contribute to. Often, these actions are carried out in order to promote an upcoming event or broader campaign. Sometimes such action is targeted: perhaps warning a neighborhood a neo-Nazi lives there or encouraging people not a rent from a certain landlord a Solidarity Network is currently organizing against.
SRA-DFW members cleaned up some nazi trash in Denton pic.twitter.com/dab4zxGIAH
— Socialist Rifle Association – DFW (@SRA_DFW) November 27, 2018
As organizing manuals from groups like Patriot Front show, the goal of Alt-Right propaganda is often much different. First, it’s to give the impression that the group is active over a wide territory. This is why accounts like Identity Evropa or Patriot Front seemingly have a constant stream of ‘action’ shots from across the US. However in reading Patriot Front literature, leadership also encourages its membership to not put up stickers and posters in areas where they live. The idea is that if they are caught, the blow back will be less severe in areas where they don’t live. But this logic also is based around the idea that those putting up ‘outreach’ materials also are doing so not in an attempt to “claim” territory, but instead make themselves appear much larger than they are, through the spectacle of the internet. Often, members of Alt-Right groups will go on trips just in order to place up stickers over a broad geographical area, sometimes hitting multiple towns in a day. People in charge of Alt-Right social media accounts will often stagger release of these actions shots, sometimes announcing days or weeks after such items have gone up that they did indeed happen.
"It’s worth noting that this was a communal effort, not an individual act. Our strength is in our teams, not by obtaining individual glory, the opposite of Patriot Front, who are known best for in-fighting and bragging to empty chat rooms." #Boston https://t.co/IVLQxTGPA3 pic.twitter.com/C1uSh8ec7M
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) March 2, 2018
We see this logic playing itself out in one off stunts by groups like Identity Evropa, such as dropping banners in support of Northern California firefighters, who’s union has been solidly anti-Trump, or giving a small gift card to ICE agents. Patriot Front has also continued this trend, yet directed it largely against the anarchist movement; showing up to protest bookfairs and infoshops.
But while such a strategy is based around hoping the images and spectacle of such actions go viral, and thus bringing in new recruits, also central to such a strategy is that of “triggering” those that see the images. Patriot Front and other groups associated with the neo-Nazi Iron March forum state plainly in their writings that places like colleges should be targeted because such flyering will create a controversy and thus will lead to media coverage – coverage that they hope will bring in new recruits.
— The Chronicle (@DukeChronicle) November 24, 2018
But since the coming to power of Trump, more and more, Alt-Right and associated groups have also moved to target areas outside of colleges, and have moved on to synagogues, outside of progressive churches, and in working-class neighborhoods, largely of color.
Earlier this month the same alt-right group plastered dozens of fliers in South Hills, near the location where this immigrant activist works with undocumented immigrants 3/ https://t.co/IJyTUCR1Rn
— Ryan Deto (@RyanDeto) December 1, 2018
This move into working-class communities, the targeting of religious institutions, and anarchist/Leftist spaces should be seen as a serious threat, as the more confidence such groups gain, the more actively they will continue to test the waters.
Outside of encountering them on the street, the easiest way to see if Alt-Right groups are putting stuff up in your area is to check online. Currently Identity Evropa and Patriot Front are the most active in promoting themselves, posting photos almost every day on Twitter of their current exploits.
Go through these Twitter accounts over the past few months and see if anything pops up in your area. If it does, make note of if other near-by cities and towns also pop up around the same time. If they do, this may imply that a member of these groups also went to these places as well, and may also reside in the local area.
More than 20 white power/extreme-Right stickers removed in Inman Park neighborhood (ATL) yesterday. We'll always challenge racist propaganda pic.twitter.com/s2kg2T8BP6
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) December 11, 2016
If you find a post of Alt-Right activity that is within driving distance of where you are and you can take the stickers down, use online maps and the help of friends to place the stickers’ location. Signal loops are also great for alerting friends to fash activity or if you spot something online, but can’t get to it yourself. Also, map out and make note of the general area of where the flyers and stickers are placed. Are they right off the freeway, at a college campus or school, next to local bars, etc. Even if you find old social media posts, it’s a good idea to scout that area and check back as often as possible.
The goal should be moving from online monitoring, essentially reacting to if and when Alt-Right groups make public their activities, to active resistance against white nationalists on our streets. The best way to build towards this is through patrols.
Neo-Nazis with "Patriot Front," made up of the same group responsible for the death of Heather Heyer and the shooting in #Gainesville, are in town to support Richard Spencer and are putting up their posters – but people are ripping them down as fast as they go up. #StopSpencer pic.twitter.com/jXOBhOk0u3
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) March 2, 2018
Patrolling is simply walking around the area where known Alt-Right flyers and stickers have gone up and looking to see if any more have appeared. It also means taking your own stickers, posters, and flyers with you to put up in their place, or in the general area. Ideally this is done is large enough groups so one person can be a look out while the other one takes down fascist material or puts up antifascist/anarchist stickers, posters, graffiti, etc.
The patrol should also be used as a means to talk with individual people in the local community. Notice a fascist sticker outside of a bar, tattoo parlor, or restaurant? Talk to the workers inside about it and try and engage with them. Sometimes, you may find that they have been taking these stickers down for weeks and suddenly, you’ve made an ally on your block that before you never knew existed.
— Berkeley Antifa (@berkeleyantifa) December 31, 2016
Last thing of note, try and take photos as much as possible of destroyed fascist materials, and of antifascist stickers that take their place. One could use either in the “before and after” style that groups like Atlanta Antifa have perfected, or simply on fire. Send these photos to It’s Going Down who will share them on social media. It’s always desirable to also put in place of fascist materials our own stickers. This not only says we’re watching, but watch out.
As you become more confident in your abilities to track down, destroy, and defend your neighborhood, you can also think about how to evolve both individual or collective patrols in various ways. This can mean making flyers encouraging people to tear down fascist materials while including info like a phone tip line, which encourages people to report Alt-Right activity.
Remember, the point in doing any of this, is not only to stop fascist organizing, but to use it as a spring board to promote our own organizing and politics.
Every week there is a new article up online about an Alt-Right group flyering a campus, essentially feeding into their goal of “triggering” the population.
What these groups are hoping is that instead of coming together as communities and doing something, people will instead slowly get used to these organizations being part of the general political discourse, before finally even becoming open to joining these organizations.
The best way to counter this is to seize on the opportunity created by news of the flyering and attempt to organize with people in your community. This means reaching out to everyday people and friendship networks in your local area.
Yesterday, approx. 20 of Patriot Front's fascist stickers went up in Little 5 Points. These materials were removed extremely quickly and replaced with antifascist materials. pic.twitter.com/Q5bqaG3j8F
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) March 4, 2018
If an incident happens on campus, try and network with students and college groups to try and organize a response. Push to hold a teach-in, a film showing, or invite a speaker to talk about the importance of antifascist organizing and the need to confront the Alt-Right. Among those you feel closer too and have more affinity with, push to organize weekly patrols of the campus while putting up flyers and stickers of your own.
If such incidents are happening in the Downtown of a city or town, push for a block party like event, while putting out flyers explaining to people the group responsible and encouraging them to take action on their own.
Antifascists in North Carolina infiltrated a chapter of Patriot Front online and managed to stop their attempt at dropping a banner in real life. https://t.co/ea0hQBXJGS
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) October 26, 2018
You can also reach to and contact religious groups impacted by the Alt-Right directly, seeing if perhaps they would allow your group or another to hold a teach in or show a film on the subject. At the very least, get people’s phone numbers, learn their names, and develop a network within your community that can respond.
The over all goal is to come out of the situation more powerful than you were before, with the Alt-Right’s plan of “triggering” the population totally backfiring, more people educated as to what the threat is, and more people willing to take action on their own or in groups.
The next stop in countering fascists in your local area is finding out who they are in real life and then outing them to the community that they exist within everyday. While we’ll save a column about doxxing and resisting it for another time, while you are researching about Alt-Right activity in your area, but sure to notice who likes and shares the post. This information will hopefully lead to you to personal Alt-Right accounts. On these accounts, see if they give anything away about themselves. See if they mention their Instagram, their Gab, their Facebook, where they work, etc. Really feel like getting serious? Set up a sock account and follow them, and then move to engage them in conversation.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 16, 2018
Once you can find their Facebook page, usually it is all over. Finding someone’s Facebook can generally lead you to map out their friendship, work, and family circles. Also, do regular searches on Facebook such as Alt-Right (City Name), along with Identity Evropa and Patriot Front. This can often point you in the right direction. You can also look at online forums where people in the Alt-Right talk about themselves and complain about their organizations and see if you can come up with a name and a location.
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School has been aware of Cooper's racist agitation & clear death threats for over a year and a half. If you are concerned about #AJMLS helping Cooper to gain further power to target marginalized communities, contact the school.https://t.co/VbDXdkTmaa
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) December 2, 2018
Another trick is to look through various local Facebook pages of established Republican, Right-wing, or ‘conservative’ organizations and see if any fashy individuals stand out. A quick scrawl through the local Campus Republican group might quickly show you exactly which members were giving off the “OK” hand sign and who might be behind the recent wave of Daily Stormer flyers.
A banner from white "I'm terrified of black and brown people coming onto my golf course" nationalist group, Identity Evropa, lasted an entire 5 minutes in #Tempe #Arizona before being destroyed. A Tempe tradition! https://t.co/nkHxGvT4b8 pic.twitter.com/jSehaOcvBz
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 23, 2017
Once you have found someone, it’s a good idea to make sure you can 100% verify who they are and their association with the Alt-Right and neo-Nazism. Moreover, make sure to screen shot their entire account and map out what group they are involved in and who else in the white power movement they are connected to.
Always remember to keep your eyes out! People have come up on neo-Nazis and members of the Alt-Right in the middle of doing a banner drop only to run them off or quickly steal and destroy their stuff. Others have infiltrated their online discussion platforms and stopped them from rallying or being able to pull off an action. Antifascists and anarchists in the Bay Area have also managed to quickly take down Identity Evropa banner and then make impressive videos of their burning.
Antifascists in the #SanFrancisco bay area made short work of a anti-immigant banner from trust fund neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa. "Sanctuary is not given, it is carved out of everyone’s desire to be safe and free, and for that desire to be respected." https://t.co/DRrTnO3BNu pic.twitter.com/GeLfOVnBVW
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 2, 2018
We also need to think beyond just some stickers of an small neo-Nazi or Alt-Right group. Imagine what it would mean to apply these tactics in the fight against gentrification or police brutality? From community organizing, to online research; starting from the simple activity of combating neo-Nazi stickers we can learn a lot about tactics in the struggles breaking out all around us.
An ongoing column about community organizing and some do's and don'ts of anarchist and autonomous activity.