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Jun 24, 17

Update on 6/25 Anti-Fascist Rallies in DC: Splitting the Right Wing

Since the first announcement of the far-right rallies on 6/25, starting with the purported “rally for freedom of speech” originally announced in April, the situation on the ground has shifted greatly. Elements of the insurgent far-right, led by the Proud Boys (of Gavin McInnes’ creation) and their more explicitly neo-Nazi, white nationalist counterparts, have suffered serious organizational conflicts, leading to the originally planned rally turning into what is now two, both with respective attendees confused and uncertain about what it is they support.

The original “Freedom of Speech Rally” continues to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, while a competing rally, spearheaded by a splinter faction led by noted hack “journalist” Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer (of interrupting a bourgeois New York City theater fame), has moved to a separate location about a mile away at the White House. Thanks to Posobiec’s personal animus for Richard Spencer, and the incredibly misguided decision by the organizer of the original fascist rally, Colton Merwin, to invite Spencer to speak at the Lincoln Memorial, Posobiec threw a tantrum and ducked out through a side entrance.

After announcing the splinter rally, Posobiec’s media pull meant that this competing fascist rally was now a serious challenge to attendance of the original rally. Even more entertaining than that, this split occurred after months of promotion, ensuring that as many eyes as possible were on the fascists right as they had their (very public) squabble, and Colton Merwin being thrashed in the resulting infighting being caught right in the middle of it all.

While entertaining to watch, the fallout unfolding on Twitter and Facebook betrays the underlying deeply concealed divisions that these two factions have.

On Organizing a Coherent Anti-Fascist Response

A coalition of allied anti-fascist organizations in DC had been following all of the above events closely, and sought to develop a unified response to the white nationalists’ false promotion of “free speech.” While the far-right split was anticipated to a certain degree, thanks to our dedicated intelligence resources, our response as originally planned was not dependent on confronting them directly from the beginning, instead relying on community engagement and acting as allies to marginalized peoples that are directly threatened by fascist ideology and state repression, and empowering those people to take the lead.

To that end, it is important, and ultimately more impactful to target the issues of police violence and state repression brutalizing our communities. Police have murdered 461 people so far in 2017. Here in D.C., activists who exercised their right to protest Donald Trump’s inaugurations are facing decades in prison due to outrageous charges. Not only that, law enforcement and the state have time and again been unwilling to fight the rising fascist movement. In fact, the Trump administration has just announced narrowing the focus of Homeland Security’s counterterrorism programs to Islamic extremism while slashing federal funding for programs that countered white supremacist extremism. We intended from the start to show the communities of DC that the police, the state, and political leaders share a common goal – to protect capital, and in doing so, maintaining various forms of systemic oppression, including racism and classism.

More than that, we intended to highlight that the so-called “free speech advocates” who ally themselves with the police and the state actually have no interest in ensuring either, except where it benefits the right-wing’s goals. This led to the organizing of a Speak Out! Against Fascism event on Sunday, June 25th outside the Metro Police Headquarters in DC.

We recognize the importance of engaging the community in antifascist struggles. Antifascist action is, after all, a matter of utmost importance to the marginalized communities directly threatened by ethnonationalism and state violence–and this resistance requires prioritizing engagement with these communities. Building genuine relationships based on shared struggles grows a lasting anti-fascist movement–one that understands the strategic value of physical confrontation, and also maintains a long-term revolutionary vision. Our efforts to engage mainstream media to this end were met with predictable mainstream media interest in bloody conflict, a la Berkeley, CA, which our intelligence confirmed to be the objective of the more overtly violent fascists bottom-lining the rally originally, including the Proud Boys and noted “Based Stickman” Kyle Chapman.

A militant antifascist response should not limit itself to merely entertain physical confrontation. Organizing a mass movement means engaging the community, and should there be any confrontation on 6/25, it will only be in response to overt violence by the right wing auxiliaries and opportunists, who have no connection to the community they are in, or reason to be present otherwise.

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