Throughout the month of August, organizers and activists have been working to disrupt hate-filled events throughout the United States. These events, often named specifically to mislead average citizens, have been held in effort to show the ‘power’ of right-wing populists; however, they tend to do the opposite. As evidenced by 2018’s “Unite the Right 2,” right-wing organizing has been on a tremendous decline due to the groundwork done by leftist groups scattered across our areas. From the investigative work of naming and shaming reactionaries and neo-Nazis, to standing at the front of a picket line, to the community solidarity events held, socialist and community driven organizing has been flourishing while the visible wing of the alt-right conglomerates has been withering.
The grand list of events held during August were:
August 4: #DefendPDX
August 5: #AllOutBayArea
August 11: Charlottesville
August 12: #AllOutDC
August 21: Start of nationwide prison strike
September 1: #AllOutHTX
“These goons are of great use to the authorities. They can carry out attacks that the state is not yet able to, intimidating those who might otherwise rebel. They distract from the institutionalized violence of the state, which is still the cause of most of the oppression that takes place in our society. Above all, they enable the authorities to portray themselves as neutral keepers of the peace.”
“Why the Alt-Right Are So Weak”
Violence against communities and leftist organizers has still been increasing, normally in the form of state-sanctioned police violence against counter-demonstrators. Two specific examples from this August come to mind: #DefendPDX, in Portland, Oregon as well as the police state witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In Portland, a block of fascists assembled under the name “Patriot Prayer,” notably including Joey Gibson and other figureheads of the current hodge-podge groups. The confrontation tended to be incited by Patriot Prayer, walking into counter-protester lines to provoke a response. This escalated when police lines fired flashbangs and other projectiles at the bloc, with reports coming later that police were specifically aiming for demonstrators’ heads. (Typical protocol is to aim at the ground, and the concussive devices will explode and disorient.) This violence led to multiple injuries, with one flashbang lodging itself in a protester’s helmet before detonating. This protester received fairly severe injuries alongside others. At this point, the bloc was holding the line in order to evacuate injured comrades and to the medics treating them at the scene and to prevent further police violence.
In the Bay Area, near Berkeley, neo-Nazis once again gathered and were given an unpleasant welcoming by antifascist protesters. Police presence was defending fascist groups that numbered only a few dozen. Once again, fascists are losing street battles and failing to hold rallies due to continuous anti-fascist work.
In Charlottesville, residents and activists gathered to memorialize Heather Heyer on the anniversary of her murder. Charlottesville was a police state for the weekend; checkpoints at every block and no entry without a ‘consensual search’ with items ranging from lighters to razor blades (including packaged ones for cartridge razors) causing a few arrests. The police state was most evident in the mass security services seen: postal security services and red locks on mailboxes downtown, patrols of armored police, manned barricades, and so forth. The town didn’t belong to the citizens but to the institutions of state violence; it was a widespread theft of personal autonomy and a reinforcement of the surveillance state.
While no white supremacists gathered that night, their state sanctioned institutions did, carrying out the attacks for them. Demonstrators gathered on University of Virginia (UVA) campus grounds by 6p.m. and unfurled a banner that said “Last year they came with torches / This year they come with badges” before the security checkpoint was opened. Simultaneously the organizers of the rally passed pamphlets out to move the rally with specific reasoning being stated: “We will not be holding the rally within the confines of a security apparatus forced upon us by the university administration.” The rally was led by UVA United with various groups joining in. Speakers addressed the crowd and led a march through town, precariously followed by police and watched by helicopter. “We are trying to maintain order and have a duty and obligation to try to make sure there is no property damage,” from the mouth of police spokesman Tony Newberry. This only confirms that police will to protect and serve the interests of capital in Charlottesville that night and onward.
Immediately following the events of August 11, 2018 was the planned Unite the Right 2 in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Layfayette Square was the site of a major gathering of protesters against Jason Kessler’s band of racists and misogynists. DC Unite Against Hate organized the counterrally and had an impressive turnout of both liberals and leftists. A bloc formed about a minute’s walk from Layfayette Square and proceeded to maneuver to the entrance gate of the neo-Nazis’ planned rally in the park. After about an hour of waiting, the clock struck 5p.m., and there were only busses of ralliers waiting to unload. As they unloaded, reporters asked why there were so few, seeing as only about two dozen attendees were there. The responses — that many of the movement feared retaliation (job loss, doxxing, etc) — is undeniable proof that no-platforming as a strategy is working and has actively reduced white supremacist organizing capacity.
Antifascists marched around D.C., virtually unstoppable until finally kettled and dispersed. Police revved motorcycles at protesters, emulating the sounds heard before the death of Heather Heyer in order to run protesters off the street. Pepper spray filled the air as protesters scrambled to their groups and formed up enough to disengage with police and disband the march. Many protesters reported that citizens of D.C. showed support with music, horns, and fists of solidarity throughout the town.
With fascist ground-based rallies thoroughly disrupted, solidarity firmly shown, and new connections built, leftist organizations should see a solid boost in organizational capacities thanks to the massive effort put into stopping the normalization of alt-right politics. While out–and-about fascists may be running scared, those in power use them as a smokescreen to churn out dangerous policies; police hold the title of judge, jury, and executioner on the streets; and people of the LGBT communities are still at risk. We will take the energy displayed in August and move it towards bettering our communities.