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Jan 11, 21

This Week in Fascism #91: Coalition of Fascist and Trumpian Forces Storms Capitol

Welcome fellow antifascists!

Today we present a special report on the recent storming of the US capitol by Trumpian and fascist far-Right forces. We discuss what all went down, the response from the State, the fallout that’s resulted from the event, what else went down around the so-called US, and what this means for antifascists.

There’s a lot to say about this historic event, so let’s dive in!

“Save America March” at U.S. Capitol Erupts in Violent Far-Right Coup Attempt, Leaving Five Dead

Trump Calls on ‘Save America’ Crowd to March on Capitol

On Wednesday January 6th, as congress met to count the Electoral College votes to finalize the results of the 2020 presidential race, a crowd made up of Proud Boys, neo-Nazis, groypers, MAGA supporters, QAnon followers, COVID-truthers, and militia members attempted to lay siege on the United States Capitol in D.C. at an event called the “Save America March.” That morning, Trump addressed the crowd of angry supporters. He attacked the press, calling them “the enemy of the people,” and pressured Mike Pence to overturn the election results. Trump claimed to have won the election “by a landslide,” stating:

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”

He closed his remarks by directing the crowd to march down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol Building, after warning them, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

After arriving at the capitol, several hundred of Trump’s followers broke through multiple police lines and metal barricades and began storming the building. The world watched in horror as livestreamers and independent journalists reported on the events in real time. Ill-equipped to handle such a large, unruly crowd, law enforcement officers positioned outside of the capitol building were not dressed in riot gear, and both D.C. police and Capitol police were not able to do much before the violent mob was actively storming the Capitol building.

‘1776’ But With Poop: Far-Right MAGA Crowd Floods Into the Capitol

As the crowd breached the police lines, the Capitol Building was locked down and several buildings were evacuated, interrupting a joint session of Congress. Around 2 PM, the rioters began to break windows and force doors open to make their way into the Senate and House chambers. Video footage shows scenes of police attempting to beat back Trump supporters at various entrances, and in other places, simply allowing them access. Teargas, flash bangs, and pepper spray was all used by police in an attempt to push the crowd back, but soon, hundreds had made their way inside. In response, pro-Trump rioters called police “Liberals!,” and “Traitors,” and at one point mockingly chanted, “I can’t breathe” after being sprayed with tear-gas.

Several members of the mob were seen sporting Confederate and Nazi symbols. For the first time ever, a Confederate flag was flown inside the Capitol. Several offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s, were ransacked, some of the rioters defecated inside the building, and angry mobs broke down doors searching for members of Congress to arrest with zip-ties and potentially attack. Meanwhile, the crowd that remained outside erected a gallows, threatened to hang Mike Pence, and continued to attack press and law enforcement.

Five deaths occurred during the violence on Wednesday. One woman, veteran and Qanon supporter Ashli Babbit, was fatally shot in the neck by Capitol Police while trying to break into the House chamber. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, ironically a Trump supporter himself, died after being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher during clashes with far-Right rioters. Three other individuals, Benjamin Philips, Kevin Greeson, and Rosanne Boyland, all died from medical emergencies during the chaos. On January 10th it was announced that a second Capitol Police officer, Howard Liebengood, took his own life in the aftermath of Wednesday’s violence.

In addition to the chaos at the Capitol, two pipe bombs were discovered in the area, one at the R.N.C. headquarters and the other at the D.N.C. building. According to the New York Times, the explosives contained timing devices, and were likely meant to detonate while the crowd of thousands was gathered at the Capitol Building.​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​Police also discovered a pick up truck full of homemade explosives and weapons just two blocks from the White House.

According to the Washington Post:

[Government] aides piled furniture against the door and tried to move stealthily, worried that the intruders would discover them inside. In waves, the door to the hall heaved as rioters punched and kicked it. The crowd yelled “Stop the steal!” Some chanted menacingly, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?”

Armed only with their phones and some of the best Rolodexes in the world, lawmakers and their aides began calling and texting anyone they thought could help — the secretary of the Army, the acting attorney general, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, governors of nearby states, the D.C. mayor.

Government officials, even pro-Trump Republicans, seemed to be completely shocked as to what was happening:

“How does this happen? How does this happen?” demanded Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

Meanwhile, others reportedly cheered on the attempted coup, as Trump beamed with pride while watching the events unfold, although he disliked how “low-class” many of the people appeared. Likewise, Lin Wood, a pro-Trump’s attorney, went so far as to call for a firing squad to execute Mike Pence “FIRST.”

Police Response

It took hours for Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to regain control of the Capitol Building. At 5:45 PM in the evening, about an hour after FBI and DHS agents arrived in riot gear to assist the cops, it was announced that the Capitol was finally secured. The cops’ tame, delayed response at what is expected to be the most secure and heavily policed location in the country highlights a glaring double standard in the State’s treatment of right and left-wing protesters – especially when compared to how the State responded this summer against ongoing demonstrations outside of the White House.

For months in 2020, Black liberation and antifascist demonstrators were brutalized by local, state, and federal law enforcement for taking to the streets in resistance of racist police violence. During Wednesday’s siege, however, some Capitol Police officers mingled with protesters who entered the building, with one even taking a selfie with a rioter. (This officer, as well as another officer who donned MAGA hat and led rioters around the building, have since been fired). The press has also reported on numerous police officers who attended the pro-Trump riot off-duty and even flashed their badges at other officers during the storming of the Capitol. Off-duty fire fighters and ex-military members have also been implicated, so say nothing of several elected officials.

Ryan Devereaux writes for The Intercept:

“The insurrectionary mob was met with some resistance as they descended on the Capitol — some, but not much. Police did use chemical agents against the crowd, but by and large the response bore little resemblance to the iron-fisted crackdown on racial justice protesters witnessed in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country just months before. The rampagers shouted at the police, calling them traitors, and threw punches at officers without consequence.”

This subdued response from the police can be explained in part by the fact that, in the lead-up to Wednesday’s coup attempt, despite the mob’s plans being widely broadcast on social media, the threat of fascist violence was largely ignored. At the federal level, the FBI and DHS failed to issue a threat assessment before the protest. Metropolitan Police Department claimed that there was no intelligence suggesting Trump’s supporters would breach the Capitol, however pro-Trump communities on social media were full of violent threats and plans to attack the building in the lead-up to the event, as members of far-Right communities fleshed out their plans to take the Capitol and even potentially execute government officials. This sentiment was echoed by Lin Wood, a pro-Trump’s attorney, who called for a firing squad to execute Mike Pence “FIRST.”

According to AP News, Capitol Police rejected two offers for additional federal assistance: one from the Pentagon, who offered to deploy the National Guard three days prior to the riot, and one from the Department of Justice, who proposed sending FBI agents to the scene as the mob grew violent. A separate report from the Washington Post states that House and Senate security officials turned down requests from Capitol Police to have the National Guard on standby. CNN reports that it was Vice President Mike Pence, and not Trump who finally called in the National Guard.

But due to the Right’s ignorance to the importance of anonymity and operational security (as well as their aversion to mask-wearing), Wednesday’s unrest was followed by a swift wave of doxxes and arrests. Media footage from the siege shows many of the rioters committing felonies and admitting to crimes, their faces in plain view, with some even stating their names and locations on camera. Several Trump supporters have been charged with bringing guns and ammunition onto the Capitol grounds. As of Friday, thirteen people have been charged by the Justice Department for their involvement in the attempted coup, while 40 others face charges in D.C. Superior Court. The FBI has received over 40,000 tips about the siege since the 6th.

Violent Trump Rallies Around the Country

As Shane Burley writes for Truthout, the rally in Washington D.C. did not occur in isolation. Many right-wing groups mobilized to protest at state capitols across the country the very same day. In Salem, OR, following weeks of clashes at the city’s capitol during Stop the Steal rallies, far-Right protesters violently attacked antifascists, spraying them with mace, shooting paintballs, and hitting them with batons.​​​​​​​

One QAnon supporter in attendance was charged with shooting live rounds into the federal courthouse in Portland, OR just two days later. Additionally, another far-right supporter who appeared at the Capitol and engaged in violence with counter-protesters was identified by Rose City Antifa as Kyle Brewster, one of the East Side White Pride and Aryan Youth Movement members convicted for the 1988 murder of Mulugeta Seraw.

In Olympia, reporters on the ground were attacked and prevented from documenting the events, as Trump supporters broke through the gates outside of the Capitol. ​​​​​​Similar violence erupted at rallies in Los Angeles, CA and Lansing, MI.

The Aftermath

On Thursday January 7th, smaller, less violent protests continued in D.C., with right-wingers breaking into the Lincoln Memorial. That afternoon, more than 24 hours after the siege of the Capitol Building, Trump posted a recorded concession speech to his now-banned Twitter account. In this scripted address, the president claimed to be outraged by the previous day’s violence, and, without mentioning Joe Biden’s name, acknowledged that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20.” This statement marked a drastic shift in tone from the president, who undoubtedly incited Wednesday’s unrest, and diehard Trump supporters took to social media to express their betrayal and claim the video was a “deep fake.”

On Monday January 11th, House Democrats introduced articles of impeachment accusing the president of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Republicans blocked a separate resolution calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment in order to remove Trump from office, and the House is expected to discuss the impeachment resolution on Wednesday. On Monday, Trump declared a state of emergency in the lead up to the inauguration, ironically citing threats of more far-Right violence.

What Does this Mean for far-Right Organizing?

The events leading up to the attempted coup galvanizing a broad spectrum of right-wing protesters. Those in attendance included a coalition of far-Right groups and tendencies ranging from Fox News watching MAGA supporters, Boogaloo Boys, QAnon followers, COVID-truthers, Proud Boys, Groypers, militias including the Oathkeepers and III% Militia, and neo-Nazis (including members of the Massachussettes group NSC-131). There were notable appearances by anti-Semitic grifters like neo-Nazi Baked Alaska, white supremacist Groyper leader Nick Fuentes, Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino, the “Q Shaman,” and InfoWars host Alex Jones, among others. One of the main organizers of the Stop the Steal rallies, Ali Alexander, has apparently gone into hiding since Wednesday’s siege, according to the Daily Beast, and is asking his supporters for a whopping $2K a day to pay for his “security.”

The events of J6 show the degree in which the coalition of fascist street gangs and militias has coalesced around sections of the GOP in an effort to solidify overt authoritarian rule, which to antifascists who have been watching these dynamics build over the last four years, is neither shocking nor surprising. The drive to slaughter seemingly clueless government officials is only a logical extension of the far-Right’s obsession in murdering and killing Black Lives Matter and “ANTIFA” protesters – an obsession which formed the basis for far-Right unity that made the storming of the capitol possible in the first place.

A YouGov poll published on January 6th shows that a shocking 45% of Republicans actively support the coup attempt on the nation’s capitol, and that 68% of Republicans do not consider the rioter’s actions a threat to democracy. This comes as no surprise to those of us who have been tracking the decades-long fascist creep within the Republican party, culminating in the recent explosion of online disinformation that launched the QAnon movement and other far-Right conspiracy theories into the national spotlight.

There is a clear link between conspiracy theories and mass radicalization. Biden’s upcoming inauguration will only contribute to the far-Right’s anger, and an uptick in accelerrationist violence seems very likely. In December 2020, Hannah Allam wrote for NPR:

“At conferences, in op-eds and at agency meetings, domestic terrorism analysts are raising concern about the security implications of millions of conservatives buying into baseless right-wing claims. They say the line between mainstream and fringe is vanishing, with conspiracy-minded Republicans now marching alongside armed extremists at rallies across the country. Disparate factions on the right are coalescing into one side, analysts say, self-proclaimed ‘real Americans’ who are cocooned in their own news outlets, their own social media networks and, ultimately, their own ‘truth.'”

As Natasha Lennard writes for The Intercept:

An exclusive focus on far-right attacks in response to Trump’s loss risks overlooking the ways already extant white supremacist violence will remain the core extremist threat under Biden. Attacks might come from far-right vigilantes, but we should also be wary of violence perpetrated by government agencies, such as immigration authorities and police.

It’s clear that white supremacy undergards the commitment to restoring Trump as president. While the fight to overturn the election could well dissipate, the racist, fascistic ideology driving the effort will remain intact.

Social Media Deplatforming

As of this reporting, according to Cybernews, 70 TBs of Parler data has been leaked after the tech company was dropped by Amazon, Google, and Apple. Cyber News reports, “Reddit users claim that the scrape was made possible due Twilio, an American cloud communications platform that provided the platform with phone number verification services, cutting ties with Parler.” The data includes Parler users’ messages, videos, and posts. As activists, security experts, and government officials begin to comb through the data, there is no denying that these leaks will have profound impacts on the lives of members of the far-Right who were using the platform to organize.

Twitter has permanently banned President Donald Trump’s account in the wake of the siege, as well as a number of QAnon and right-wing extremist accounts, including Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Ron Watkins (administrator of 8kun). According to a Twitter spokesperson, these accounts were in violation of the company’s policy on “Coordinated Harmful Activity.” More recently, the platform has also started censoring content related to the Stop the Steal movement behind the J6 rally, banning both Ali Alexander and Michael Coudrey’s accounts. This move suggests that big tech is having a moment of reckoning as it navigates responsibility for the rise of far-Right organizing and the siege on the Capitol, or perhaps it is realizing that a threat to American government is also a threat to capitalism, the very thing keeping these companies afloat.

State Crackdown

Videos clips of irate MAGA supporters being removed from flights or being informed that they are on no-fly lists have been circulating on social media platforms. Already some charges have started to trickle down, however they pale in comparison to those handed out en masse to Black Lives Matter protesters from this summer’s rebellion.

According to CNN:

DC police arrested more than five times as many people at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer than they did during the day of insurrection at the Capitol, according to a CNN analysis of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) data. And many of those arrested amid this week’s unrest were detained on less serious charges.

As antifascists, it’s important that we avoid seeing the State’s wrath as a win for antifascism. On Monday, January 11th, Berkeley Antifa addressed this exact concern in a tweet-thread, “Yes, sometimes the relationship between the state and forces on the right are messy. The cops and Klan don’t *always* go hand in hand. But anti-fascists should *always* be positioned against the police. They are antithetical to the free society we fight for.”

As Northern California Anti-Racist Action wrote in 2018:

While the arrest and criminal prosecution of these individuals is a significant moment in terms of the state’s stance and action on [far-Right] violence during the Trump presidency… it should not by any means be considered a victory for the anti-fascist movement, nor should it remotely be confused for the state making a sincere attempt to, in any real way, address white supremacy or even [far-Right] violence in the US. While the recent wave of street-based and grassroots white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements have intensified and become more visible, they compose a relatively minuscule segment of a greater social system of white supremacy existing in the US that functions in concert with capitalism, patriarchy, and State as a part of a violently maintained social hierarchy that controls our lives.

We reject the notion that the State can ever address this fundamental social issue because it itself is a critical component of upholding the racial caste system in the US that relegates millions of human beings to being murdered by the police, locked up in prisons, struggle against the weight of structural poverty, homelessness, and displacement just to survive, and daily are subjected to violence and humiliation. As the history of repression by the state has shown us time and time again with programs such as COINTELPRO, whatever repression it is willing to level against the most overt, violent, and indiscreet neo-Nazis and racists, it has no qualms about unleashing its much greater and more heavy-handed authority against those struggling to overcome oppression, domination, and exploitation and put into practice collective ways of life based on solidarity, equality, and autonomy.

In short, as many have already pointed out, State repression aimed at the far-Right; even under the veil of ‘anti-fascism’ itself, will quickly be used against autonomous social movements even harder; Black liberationists, Water Protectors, anarchists, and antifascists in particular. Thus, we must oppose giving the State more power to “police extremism” or “ideology.” After all, we’ve already demonstrated that grassroots responses to the far-Right, both in combating them head-on and through counter-recruiting through meeting people’s needs directly, is a better solution than expanding the power of the State.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, we’ve seen what has happened. We’ve made sense of the timeline, and the threats. We are confident in our understanding of the three-way fight. But where do we go from here? The inauguration looms ahead, as many predict more potential far-Right violence. Biden will enter office with his supercop VP and for many, things will feel safe and comfortable. As anarchists and leftists, we know that safety and comfort are relative terms, as the same violence that swirled around us during the Trump years shows no signs of letting up under Biden: from murderous police, a raging pandemic, growth threats from the far-Right, expanding ecological devastation, and death at the border.

We need to use our vigor and our anger to keep those around us invigorated as well. Perhaps this will be our greatest task over the next four years. We will have to fight the complacency and the liberals and Centrists are determined to sell. It will be crucial to help those outside our affinity groups, organizations, and spaces understand the difference between what we do, which is protecting and defending our communities, and what the far-Right is doing, which targets marginalized people and those who oppose fascism in order to eliminate us. The mainstream media is already misusing our terms (“anarchist,” “insurrection”) in order to vilify far-Right participants in Wednesday’s siege. We cannot allow this to continue unchecked. These were not “anarchists,” and that was not an “insurrection.” It was a last-ditch effort to grab at control and it was a miserable, disorganized failure.

We will also need to continue to organize our own networks of support outside of oppressive systems. If we want to abolish the carceral system, we will have to create our own processes around community accountability. We will need to create systems to respond to crisis that don’t involve continued reliance on police or psychiatric incarceration. Our efforts will need to be rooted in liberation, de-colonization, anti-racism, and antifascism.

Collaboration and organization will provide us the space to create the systems we believe effectively respond to community needs, which will require us to develop our trust and solidarity across a wide terrain and with people of various degrees of political consciousness. We will need to be mindful of hierarchies and dismantle them as they reveal themselves. We will need to find out what motivates others in order to tap into that energy and move toward collective healing and liberation.

We will need to continue the research, infiltration, and interruption of far-right organizing. Doxxing and investigations are just a small part of this. Militant antifascism has proven to be a powerful tactic against far-Right organizing. Antifascist work is rooted in community. It’s about protecting community from those who seek to harm us or our comrades. We will need to share information and tools, and help build up each others’ skills so that we can work collectively, because we are more powerful when we collaborate. We’ll need to continue to organize and confront fascism in the streets so that fascists do not get comfortable in our communities, while prioritizing safety and remaining mindful of the heightened potential for violence in the current climate. We will also need to remember that our fight is a three-way fight and that we are the ones who protect our communities, not the State, and it is our task to help others understand this as well.

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photo screenshot via Talia Jane

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A weekly roundup of the latest and greatest happenings in the anti-fascist world. Each column features a roundup of news, actions, doxxes and current calls to action.

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