Antifa on a Conservative Campus: Possibilities

Ten things you can do to combat racism and xenophobia ...

from Radical Education Department

Recently, we’ve seen powerful Antifa actions on college campuses like Berkeley and the University of Virginia striking back against emboldened white supremacists and fascists. We’ve also seen how crucial Antifa is on college campuses after neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer proclaimed they are targeting colleges as recruiting-grounds.

But what if you’re on a conservative or even reactionary campus?  This situation poses special challenges for Antifa.  It may be difficult to find anything beyond a small group willing to mobilize against fascism and its roots in the white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism central to capitalist society.  And activists confront not only widespread apathy,  but also the real possibility of backlash from both administrators and many other students and faculty. The threat to contingent faculty is especially great. The situation can seem hopeless.

Still, there is great value in cultivating a radical Antifa presence on conservative campuses.  In this post, I point out that importance by drawing on my own experiences as part of a small Antifa group on a conservative campus.  And I start to assemble a list of other, further radical possibilities beyond those we explored.  I hope, then, this reflection could be helpful to people in similar situations.

1. Some background: Villanova and the Charles Murray Action

Villanova University is a notoriously conservative school.  Many students in its overwhelmingly white and upper-class student body vocally support the Trump administration (with “Make America Great Again” signs and parties, for example; check out this endorsement of Trump in the college paper).  It was in this context that white supremacist physical violence erupted on campus.  Two of my own students of color mentioned to me the fear they felt for their safety on campus.

Villanova has also been openly hostile to progressive activism.  For instance, one contingent faculty-person in our group–Nova Resistance–was explicitly threatened with being fired for another, very benign and non-disruptive, organizing project on campus.  In recent years, Villanova administrators rescinded a speaking invitation to a queer activist.

We formed Nova Resistance to disrupt an invited talk by the white supremacist, anti-worker, and misogynist pseudo-intellectual Charles Murray in March 2017.  In the lead-up to the event, two of us had tried to create a large faculty and student action; they were either ignored or met with anemic, sanctimonious arguments for “free speech” or “boycotting.”

In the days prior, one of us hung very simple posters across campus to call for resistance.  We distributed it by slipping it secretly inside the student newspaper and taping it across many campus buildings.  Nova Resistance officially met for the first time only hours before the event began.  Members made signs, and made a plan for the action.  Some of us were very new to more disruptive, small-group tactics.

By the day of the talk, we were only a handful of activists, with at least one person coming from off-campus.  The event was heavily guarded many hours before.  A police helicopter circled overhead; campus swarmed with armed police carrying many thousands of dollars of military-style equipment; there were numerous conspicuous undercover cops; and so on.  The talk was to be held in a secure basement location on campus with very limited seating–obviously chosen because it is the building that houses campus security.  Moreover, we discovered that, in addition to campus police, the university paid some $15,000 to hire the police force from Radnor township.  Clearly, administrators were spooked by the ghost of Middlebury.

Four made it into the crowded event, while a few others remained outside to prepare for a protest and teach-in after our eventual ejection.  As soon as Murray took the stage, two from Nova Resistance stormed the front of the event, blocking the projector screen with a banner. The plan was for the two to stage a silent action during the event while a banner and signs were held to under-cut the talk.  Others were to create an increasing disruption of ridiculous noises, cheers, heckling, etc., all as a way of interrupting and hopefully halting the talk.

Almost immediately, the two of us who were standing at the front were accosted by belligerent audience-members.  One person in the reserved seats in the front row–neither security nor a talk organizer–grabbed the shirt of one of us and seemed nearly on the verge of punching him. The talk’s faculty organizer, as well as an unaffiliated, liberal  professor, approached the two Nova Resistance members at the front, trying to convince them to cease the disruption.  Another member of our direct action team went to the front of the room with the other two.

Fairly quickly amid these confrontations, one of the three activists at the front began more disruptively yelling about Murray’s fascistic ideology, the school’s implication in it, and so on (departing from the group’s plan of silence).  However, the activists refused to engage directly with the attempts at heckling or negotiation and instead resolutely stated that they refused to have their university provide a podium for a reactionary eugenicist, racist, misogynist hack. After around 15-20 minutes of this, campus security threatened to arrest the activists if they did not allow themselves to be escorted out of the event.  They chose the latter option in order to re-consolidate outside. One member filmed the encounters and eventually posted them on our social media outlets.

Outside we rapidly escalated.  One of us brought a megaphone.  Using this, we organized an impromptu, direct-action “teach-in” immediately outside of the windows of the Murray talk.  The crowd that formed around us was perhaps 40-50 strong and fairly receptive–unusual for Villanova’s campus–though the crowd was largely passive.  We screamed and chanted (“No Murray!  No KKK!  No fascist USA!” etc.) into the open windows of the event with the megaphone, creating additional disruptions, although the windows were rather quickly closed.  The police then confronted us, telling us we had to cut the megaphone (on threat, apparently, of arrest).  We continued without amplification for a while, and then left. Members of Nova Resistance were approached by local news outlets for interviews and quotes.

We were not ready for the next steps.  We had no statement prepared and hadn’t set up any social media outlets to post videos or analysis or to garner more support and visibility.  Later that day we whipped up a Facebook page and began posting media, and within a few days we submitted an article for the school newspaper and created a manifesto-style statement, posting them as well.  But our lag left us without a voice at a time when our actions were being interpreted and either supported or condemned without our own voice helping to shape the narrative.

(It should also be noted that the school newspaper, The Villanovan, warped the statement they ran without consulting us, toning down and pacifying our language.)

Nova Resistance then began to meet regularly, renaming itself the Radical Education Department (RED).  We reframed our task beyond Villanova as the creation of a radical left think-tank developing Antifa practices across college campuses.  We used the visibility and experience from the event to inform a number of articles in left popular media (for example, thisthis, and this).

Edited for mb3-org.com

Statement Re: John Venezia Park

It’s come to our attention that a bunch of blatantly leftist graffiti has shown up in John Venezia Park in Briargate, featuring Hammer and Sickle iconography, the Anarchist circle A, and slogans like “Left Solida” and “Antifa.” As far as we have been able to determine, no one affiliated with our group was responsible for […]

via Statement Re: John Venezia Park — Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists

What You Need to Know About the Nazi Rally in Charlottesville, VA

By

It’s Going Down

On August 12th in Charlottesville, VA, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Alt-Right trolls, and KKK members will reconverge at Emancipation Park in order to hold a protest to “Unite the Right” and in support of a statue of Confederate general, Robert E Lee, which is slated to be removed. While the protest is advertised as a broad mobilization across the right-wing and advertised as a “free speech” rally, the only groups organizing for the event and the only people speaking at it are all connected to the racist Alt-Right and various neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate groups.

Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US promotes the Unite the Right protest. “88” in the website URL stands for the 8th letter in the alphabet, and short for “Heil Hitler.”

These groups do not hide their politics, but they do cloak it in irony and memes while openly using racial slursclaiming that Jews control the worldcalling for genocide and ethnic cleansing, and promoting and endorsing violence. The rally will mark the third white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville in the past four months; as Richard Spencer led a series of rallies in May and the Ku-Klux-Klan gathered in July, all around the same statue.

As the Unite the Right protest draws closer, Alt-Right trolls and neo-Nazis have increased their calls from the safe space of the internet, for violence and openly are talking about bringing weapons and concealed firearms. Moreover, on various Alt-Right and neo-Nazi websites which are promoting Unite the Right, attendees have even made a “hit list” of local political leaders and police, referring to them as “n*ggers” and “Jews,” while in the media the Alt-Right has worked hard to portray itselves as nonviolent and ‘not racist.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Neo-Nazi podcast with Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler describes counter-demonstration as a “chimp out,” a racist reference to black people.

Despite their giddy excitement about using violence, the Unite the Right protest is being promoted from a place of victimization. Regardless of the fact that members of the Alt-Right have carried out numerous murders, arson attacks, and racist acts of intimidation – they claim that they are the real victims. 

Their Facebook event page even hilariously reads:

[T]he City of Charlottesville and roving mobs of Antifa have cracked down on the First Amendment rights of conservatives and right wing activists…This is an event which seeks to unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown, to speak out against displacement level immigration policies in the United States and Europe.

If anyone has their head so far up Alex Jones’ ass that they need a reality check, the truth is that the State has not cracked down on conservatives or the Right. In Charlottesville, despite massive outcry from the local population, the City Council and police have kept the permit for the neo-Nazi rally in place, bowing to pressure from Alt-Right lawyers. While the Alt-Right might like to think there is a “totalitarian Communist crackdown,” in reality the State has targeted poor communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and protesters while giving the far-Right free reign.

Even several of the leaders who are speaking at Unite the Right will attest to this reality. In a recent podcast on Fash the Nation, Richard Spencer and Mike Peinovich, two prominent neo-Nazi organizers who are speaking at the protest, discussed how both the Trump administration and Steve Bannon in particular are holding back both police and the FBI from harassing them, giving them the “space to destroy.”

From Salon.com:

“He’s going to give us space to operate, and frankly, it is space to destroy,” Peinovich continued.

“Now is the time that we have to make hay while the sun shines . . . while these investigations of ‘domestic terrorist groups’ are not being funded by the government, they’re not being pushed by the Department of Homeland Security” argued one of the co-hosts of the program, an anonymous former Republican political staffer who calls himself Jazzhands McFeels.

“We’d probably be facing fucking [racketeering] charges or some shit like that,” Peinovich said, discussing what he believed might have happened if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election.

“We have to use these four years to grow into something that can’t be defeated by that kind of thing,” Peinovich said, referring to possible future investigations of neo-fascist groups.

“They kind of expect us to be doing this. I’m not saying he’s our guy, but they want — at least Bannon, I would think — wants us to be able to operate in that space. So we should and we are,” [Jazzhands] said.

Alt-Right and neo-Nazi groups feel emboldened, empowered, and protected by police and the Trump administration – not attacked by it. With this in mind, they are attempting to play on fears of ‘antifa’ and Black Lives Matter promoted by Trump aligned media outlets like Breitbart and Fox News, in order to turn out rank and file people on the Right.

There’s just one problem: the Alt-Right has been picking fights and laughing at militia members and groups like the Oath Keepers over “muh freeze peach” and fighting with the various Alt-Lite organizations and leaders for months. Because of this, it seems many of them won’t be showing up for Unite the Right, and instead are leaving the door open for the most hardcore neo-Nazi elements of the Alt-Right to come in and fly their colors.

KKK member and III%er arguing about Unite the Right, while KKK member attacks militia member’s mixed racial child. So much for uniting the Right!

At a time when openly racist and fascist groups feel the most emboldened and protected by the government, the President, and the police – it’s important that we as everyday working and poor people arm ourselves with knowledge of what is really going on, so we can better organize ourselves and our communities in defense against these groups who are bent on using violence and intimidation to further their politics, either from behind a keyboard or carrying an assault rifle.

At the end of the day, what the Alt-Right wants most of all is to unite the various white supremacist and Neo-Nazi factions together, under a strong leadership. They are also hoping to bring in and indoctrinate a variety of Alt-Lite individuals and groups, such as the Proud Boys and people like Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, and ultimately make them move from “civic nationalism” to “white nationalism.”

Lastly, the Alt-Right hopes to distance itself from its image of being a ‘rent a troll’ army that helped get Trump elected and lined the pockets of hucksters from Milo Yiannopoulos to Steve Bannon. But moreover, as stated in online forms and in social media, the Alt-Right hopes to “demoralize” community members who come out to demonstrate against them by crushing anyone that stands in their way.

But despite everything that the police, local city government, and the white supremacists would throw at us, thousands of people are coming to Charlottesville and will mobilize and converge to defend their city and region against the growing neo-Nazi threat of the Alt-Right. Across a broad range of organizations, movements, lines of race and gender, beliefs of faith, and communities, people are holding meetings, teach-ins, and talking with their neighbors about the need to drive out the white supremacists.

Here’s what you need to know. 

The Protest is Being Spearheaded by Jason Kessler, Who was Fired from Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller for Being a White Supremacist

Jason Kessler is the principal organizer of the Unite the Right protest, and is a long time organizer in Charlottesville around Alt-Right and white supremacist causes. Throughout his career, Kessler has campaigned long and hard to keep the Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee from being taken down and done everything to further his cause from petition drives, rallies, getting arrested for fighting, and now: working with neo-Nazis.

Over the past few months, Kessler’s descent into full blown neo-Nazism and white supremacist politics has only intensified, leading some of his former associates to distance themselves from Kessler, claiming that they want nothing to do with him or the Unite the Right protest.

Kessler speaks to media at a press conference with protection from the 1% biker gang ‘The Warlocks’ behind him for intimidation. The Warlocks have a long and violent history of crime, but they’re some of the only allies that Kessler can buy.

Moreover, locally Kessler has attempted to align himself with a violent biker gang for protection. At a recent press conference about the Unite the Right rally, Kessler was flanked by the outlaw 1% biker club the Warlocks for protection. A quick look at the history of the Warlocksreveals a group connected to violent crime, carrying out many of the same acts that Kessler states people of color are genetically predestined to commit:

In 1991, 12 members of the Warlocks MC — including former national president John “Spike” Ingrao — were indicted by a federal grand jury in Orlando, FL on drug, explosives, and weapons violations. That November Ingrao was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison for attempting to sell 525 lbs of marijuana, transferring 21 machine guns, and selling 84 homemade bombs to undercover ATF agents.

Ingrao had also told ATF agents about the Warlocks MC “wrecking crew,”an elite group of members whose job was, as he put it, “taking care of business.” In the words of one federal agent, this meant killing rival gang members by “using explosives and also using Colombian hit men.”

In 2011 Warlocks member James Madison Bedsole was sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 murder of a man who accidentally knocked over a motorcycle outside of a central Florida bar. And in 2014, a Warlock named Victor Amaro was found guilty on two counts of second degree murder in connection with a deadly shootout at a Winter Springs VFW.

Kessler’s links with the Alt-Right and neo-Nazis have also caused him to be fired from his position at the The Daily Caller (run by none other than Tucker Carlson), after he wrote an article about a white nationalist rally headed by Richard Spencer which he attended and spoke atearlier this summer.

Kessler has also been a regular contributor to a wide variety of white supremacist websites, shares a wide variety of neo-Nazi articles and memes, appears on various white supremacist podcasts, and has also been a regular poster on online forums favorited by the Alt-Right.

But while Kessler may be the public face of Unite the Right, those that he is bringing to town are much, much more frightening.

Despite Claiming to Bring Together Different Sections of the Right, Most of the Groups Organizing the Protest Are Part of White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Groups

The original idea behind the Unite the Right protest was that it would bridge the gap between Trump supporters, ‘Alt-Lite’ groups such as the Proud Boys, and the hardcore white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the Alt-Right. This would essentially take the hodge podge of people who have been attending the various “Free Speech” and pro-Trump rallies across the US since March, and bring them out to a demonstration under Alt-Right leadership. By and large this effort has been a total failure, and instead the protest has sought to draw more and more from outright neo-Nazi elements with long and violent histories in order to bring in more shock troops.

Here’s a look at some of the groups attending:

Identity Evropa: Formed by ex-Marine Nathan Damigo who after attacking a cab driver, became ‘racialized’ in prison from reading the works of KKK leader David Duke. Once out, Damigo transitioned the neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Youth Front (NYF) into Identity Evropa in order to appeal to a more upper-middle class and college educated demographic, largely borrowing from ‘white identity’ groups in Europe that took the language of identity politics and used it as a way to obscure neo-Nazi ideology.

Identity Evropa member giving Nazi salute at protest in Minneapolis, 2016.

Since Identity Evropa began in 2016, the group has been linked to racist harassment and threats of violence against a college dean with biracial children, numerous violent clashes at protests, and white supremacist vandalism across the US.

In May of 2017, a neo-Nazi associated with Identity Evropa was outed as a known pedophile. IE members have also been documented giving Nazi salutes at demonstrations and using white supremacist symbols. Damigo has referred to IE as the “SS” of the Alt-Right and claims that they have 450 members operating across the US, primarily based out of colleges. IE’s goal is to transition their members into leaders in positions of authority in order to further their white supremacist goals.

From the Facebook page of the band, Negro Terror

In recent months in Florida, Identity Evropa members have disrupted several liberal events and racial justice trainings, and according to the African-American punk band, Negro Terror, in late July IE leader Nathan Damigo threatened to violently turn one of their shows into a “boot party.”

Vanguard America: After accusations of snitching and pedophila destroyed the group American Vanguard, which itself was a split from the “IronMarch” neo-Nazi web forum, Vanguard America (VA) was born. VA is much like Identity Evropa in that it tailors to a younger and internet based Alt-Right audience and spends much of it’s time putting up posters and stickers. However unlike IE, much of VA’s aesthetics borrow more from classical neo-Nazism and make more open reference to it. For instance, it’s website “Blood and Soil” is borrowed from the slogan of the Nazi Party, and their logo shows an eagle carrying the fasces, a weapon most associated with fascism.

Report Back – Co Springs Trans Rights Rally

We had been wondering what the local Nazi’s had been up to ever since their main man William Planer had been arrested on violent felony charges a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, they’ve been up to their same old shit. For two groups that claim no affiliation with each other, The Proud Boys and […]

via Report Back – Co Springs Trans Rights Rally — Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists