On Thursday, January 19th, hundreds of anti-capitalist and anti-fascist demonstrators marched to the National Press Club in Washington DC in order to shut down and confront the DeploraBALL, an Alt-Right celebration of the inauguration of the Trump regime. Starting at around 7:30 PM, several hundred demonstrators converged outside of the building in the face of a heavy police presence. As attendees went in and out of the event, clashes broke out between Alt-Right Trump supporters and anti-fascists, as well as with the police, who sprayed the crowd with pepper spray and mace. Despite the large amount of police, protesters held their ground and bravely confronted the enemy. As the night wore on and DeploraBALL attendees left, they were quickly chased and confronted, attacked with projectiles, and in the case of “Proud Boy” Vice co-founder, Gavin McInnes, fought in the street.
People also lit fires, including one charming young man, who started a viral video when he proclaimed to news media, “Screw our President!” While actions around the US and in Washington DC happened throughout the day, the clashes outside of DeploraBALL were the most confrontational.
The name DeploraBALL was lifted from a speech by Hillary Clinton in which she called the Alt-Right a “basket of deplorables.” There’s been much fanfare and build up to the DeploraBALL, firstly because the event opened up a rift between the more openly racist, anti-Semitic, and Neo-Nazi wing of the Alt-Right, and the “Alt-Lite,” or far-Right Trump supporters that are “fellow travelers” of the Alt-Right, but shy away from some of it’s hardcore ideology. Second, because of a series of hit pieces aimed at anti-fascists and anarchists by the far-Right in the lead up to the event.
The aforementioned rift first began between DeploraBALL organizer Mike Cernovich, a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) who first came to internet prominence for denying the existence of date rape, (and in 2003 was actually charged with rape), and internet Neo-Nazi ‘Baked Alaska,’ over the latter’s consistent anti-Semitism and racism. This drama led to Baked Alaska being kicked out of the DeploraBALL and replaced with anti-feminist and MRA, Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo had these ideas for how DeploraBALL could be set up, which he outlined in Politico:
Yiannopoulos described his vision for the event: As guests entered the National Press Club, shirtless Mexican laborers would be building a physical wall around them. Instead of doves, Yiannopoulos would release 500 live frogs in honor of Pepe, the cartoon mascot of pro-Donald Trump internet trolls. The room would be lined with oil portraits in gilt frames, each depicting a celebrity who had vowed to leave the country in the event of Trump’s election. At the end of the night, the portraits would be thrown into a bonfire and burned. Yiannopoulos would send a bill for the party to the Mexican Embassy.
While Milo’s plans for DeploraBALL were not implemented, interestingly enough however, the DeploraBALL committee went to great lengths to ensure that they would not be any public embarrassments at the event by connecting it with Nazism, such as what happened at the National Policy Institute (NPI) conference, where attendees gave Nazi salutes, while MC Richard Spencer screamed, “Hail Trump.” According to TMZ:
Mike Cernovich – a member of ultra conservative group MAGA3X – tells TMZ he and his fellow “deplorables” are banning Nazi salutes and any other racist innuendo at Thursday night’s event inside the National Press Club.
Another thing that won’t be allowed in the building – images of Pepe the Frog, an Internet meme that was deemed a hate symbol and adopted by the alt-right.
Also hilarious, that while Cernovich banned the use of Pepe the Frog, which Milo originally planned to honor, promotional materials for DeploraBALL featured the slogan, “Memes Are Magic.”
Also in attendance was James O’Keefe, who is known to have ties with the white nationalist group, Youth for Western Civilization, which helped give Neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach his start. O’Keefe is also connected with Breitbart, as well as Project Veritas, the group that conducted an undercover video hit piece on DC anti-fascists.
In the aftermath of the clashes, many liberals took to social media to condemn the raucous protests, despite the fact that far-Right violence, attacks, arsons, and vandalism have only increased since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and spiked in the wake of Trump’s selection by the electoral college.
What happened in the streets of Washington DC was the natural expression of people coming together to confront white supremacy and patriarchy among a group of hipsters, social media ‘stars,’ and trolls who are seeking to cash in on the Trump regime.