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Jan 11, 22

“They Didn’t Want the Smoke”: Chicago Police Blocked Streets to Allow Patriot Front an Escape Route

Report from antifascists on the ground in Chicago about confronting neo-Nazi group Patriot Front. Originally posted to 1312 United Against Fascism.

Through leaked chats, it was shared that Patriot Front had planned on joining the annual March for Life anti-abortion rally as they had in previous years. For those unfamiliar, PF is a rebranded splinter group of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America who co-organized the deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. They are perhaps the largest organized white supremacist movement in the so-called United States. A call for an antifascist presence was made and almost two hundred counter-protesters and abortion-rights activists united at Federal Plaza to confront the various strains of far-right extremism that flooded the streets on January 8th. Here is a report-back of the events from some comrades on the ground.

Now previously M4L has done next-to-nothing to condemn or disavow the near-annual presence of PF, but ahead of this years rally, M4L Chicago ‘attempted’ to distance themselves from PF via a single comment to an IGD callout for a counter-protest. PF certainly didn’t care, they came for the photo-op anyway.

Earlier in the day, a group of anti-vaxxers held a dimly attended rally at the Thompson center. This was CHD, White Rose, and ISAT’s second rally here this week, their activities have been on the rise since vaccination cards are required to eat at restaurants and bars in all of Cook County. There is significant cross-over between anti-vaxx groups and right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys, so eyes were on the ground for the possibility of Patriot Front showing up early. Some of these Qanon dis-information ‘activists’ joined the M4L march later.

By the time their rally started, March for Life had bused in a crowd of around a thousand. Police had separated the groups on opposing sides of Dearborn Ave. Cops faced the counter-protesters. Patriot Front did not show up until much later, after the anti-abortion march stepped off.

Protest scouts had eyes all over the loop looking for PF. They were spotted marching from the south side of Grant Park, marching north on Michigan, to meet up with M4L on Washington. Passer-byers watched on, looked confused, filmed, others were heckling, but all were perplexed and displeased by the ridiculous sight of these khaki white-hoods. The pigs, escorting PF the whole time.

When the PF and M4L march met up, the anti-abortionists did nothing: they wouldn’t look at or say anything to or about the neo-Nazis who joined their ranks. They marched together for a whole 5-10 minutes before a few forced-pregnancy advocates were filmed shoving against PF shields, telling all in their statements. “It’d be different if you were peaceful, what do you need shields for?” “You make conservatives look bad!”

Listen to the end of this last clip of an M4L anti-choicer speaking. “Those shields…You are not marching in the front!” Doesn’t sound like they tried too hard to keep them out of the march, and of course they ultimately failed to prevent them from marching side-by-side for another 10 minutes. One of those filmed calling out PF has been documented as an anti-vaxxer seen here at “World Wide Freedom Day” rally. Props to everyone who said fuck you to Patriot Front, but those within the M4L movement need to answer the hard questions within your circles as to why Patriot Front seeks to join your march, and succeeds year after year. If you care so much about not letting PF at M4L, you must be furious at the organizers for their vast indifference to the presence of literal neo-Nazis marching alongside your rally year after year. Will they join you next year? They made plans to march at nationals on January 21st. Will they join you in DC again?

March for Life and Patriot Front’s shared ideology of Christian-fascism posits them as equals in terms of danger – two sides, same coin, same trajectory. Sure, probably most M4L are uncomfortable with the sight of PF and may reject their stated goals if asked, but their lack of statement against literal neo-Nazis in their march is deafening. Their continual allowance of PF in their ranks furthers the goals of PF who seek to recruit potential allies and recruits from anti-abortion groups at M4L, and their unchallenged presence normalizes white supremacy in far-right circles. PF demonstrate to show force as an shadowy armed insurgent group which would ostensibly defend the very same Christian state M4L seeks to create, one where abortions are illegal. PF just takes it a few steps farther: they advocate white nationalism and genocide. Read more on the connections between anti-abortion activism and white supremacist and christian fascist movements.

As the march turned onto Michigan Ave, Patriot Front stayed on the sidewalk and marched alongside M4L who took one side of the street. It was no more than 10 minutes before counter-protesters caught up to the scene. A breakaway bloc had formed and tailed PF closely back on Michigan ave. When PF saw the antifascists, they picked up the pace and goose-stepped the fuck out of there, marching on ahead of everybody as cops blocked street after street to slow down the protesters chasing them. PF bravely ran from the antifascists, and the cops let them get away by blocking the counter-protesters.

Patriot Front did not want any smoke that day. They photo-bombed M4L and split immediately, but not without being heckled by many, chased by Antifa, retreated all sad and pathetic while protected by cops through the icy rain. They can believe their goals are achieved when they can take a few pictures of unironically marching like nazis for their propaganda videos, but really, they are cowards, hiding online and in U-haul trucks, popping out for 20 minutes and thinking they did something. They were again left waiting in the freezing rain for a good 15 minutes before their caravan of trucks and vans with taped-over plates picked them up. Note: not always the usual moving trucks. But now we know what your cars look like, ya dummies.

Shout-out to the pigs in CPD, who did a fine job protect the free speech for fascists this day, allowing them ot take the streets. We know in this 3 way fight, you side with the nazis.

Dispelling Disinformation

Speaking of pigs, it is a widely spread and dangerous right-wing lie that Patriot Front is a federal operation. Such claims are baseless, while Patriot Front members have been long documented and exposed as being real people who hold nazi and white supremacist beliefs, with numerous connections to violence. Fake-news propagandists like Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit routinely label masked fascists at rallies as feds in order to distance themselves from extreme elements of their own movement. Most within the GOP / MAGA orbit admit it makes them look bad. Well, they make themselves look bad. While it is probable that individual agents have infiltrated their movement, it is also true that cop culture being what it is, there surely are police officers in their midst as genuine, dedicated members of the self-proclaimed racist Patriot Front. Regardless, the state is unable to, and uninterested in stopping Patriot Front and other fascist movements. Consider Jan 6, where the largest federal investigation in history has formed to pursue charges against rioters in the white supremacist insurrection, they have yet to effectively slow or stop the organizing and violence of these movements.

While some on the Right are denying the existence of PF, others have chimed in support of Patriot Front presence at M4L. Here is Jason DombrowSKI of the misogynist and trans-phobic Northern Illinois Proud Boys (more on them here), sharing pro-Patriot Front propaganda to far-right telegram channels, dumping grounds of anti-vaxx and Qanon disinformation for the disaffected MAGA still seething over losing the 2020 election and subsequent 2021 coup attempt. Does anyone in these groups challenge the Proud Boys routinely posting macho white supremacist BS in the chat? Of course not!

Closing Thoughts

Antifascists united with abortion rights activists to stand up against Patriot Front, M4L, and the anti-vaxxers, and a clear statement was made – YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. PF showed up unannounced at a random location rather than at the main meet up point, which was expected, but regardless, counter-protesters sought to find them and ended up chasing them off from the M4L march. We found advanced scouting to prove useful in finding PF as quickly as possible so that counter-protesters can form a response and make it to the scene. A combination of cars and bikes are advised for most versatile forms of scouting and pursuit. We are empowered by our movement and our networks are growing stronger.. Antifa is Winning. The fash are again put on notice: don’t ever come to the streets of Chicago thinking you won’t face opposition.

Less Patriot Front came out this year than last year, their numbers dwindled to 49 in 2022 from 80 in 2021. Our advice to PF and other fascists in 2022 is to do what others around you are doing and quit – walk away from hate. People can leave the nationalist scene and live a life beyond the bullshit. It’s unhealthy. And it’s going to end up very bad for you. We are dedicating this year to exposing fascists and ruining your lives. Your numbers: shrinking. Your time: running low. Your outlook: bleak as fuck, if you keep it up.

M4L marching with PF is particularly disgusting as we are continuing to see of increases in white supremacist  and anti-abortion violence. Just 8 days earlier, on New Years Eve in Knoxville, TN, a bomb was detonated at a Planned Parenthood and ruled an arson. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but nobody doubts that this wasn’t the work of the so-called “pro-life” crowd.

What’s Next for Patriot Front?

According to the leaked chats, it appears PF is likely making plans to return to DC on January 21st to join with March for Life again at their yearly national rally. Connect with local antifascists and reproductive rights activists on the ground on how you and your crew can best interrupt fascist organizing and support abortion rights. We keep us safe.

Read full report here.

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