On June 26, a carload from Bay Area FSP drove to the state capitol for a face-off with fascists. Sacramento Anti-Fascist Action (ANTIFA) had asked for help to counter an ultra-right rally. FSP agrees with ANTIFA’s message that “ignoring fascists does not make them go away.” So we hit the road with a contingent that represented unionists, women, queers, youth and people of color.
The Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP) had called for white supremacists to make a showing. TWP’s founder is Matthew Heimbach who assaulted a Black woman at a Donald Trump meeting in Kentucky earlier this year.
Only 10-15 Nazis from TWP, the Golden State Skinheads and KKK turned up. But over 400 civil rights defenders met them with the message bigotry will not be tolerated!
This should have been the end of the story with headlines reading, “Sacramento Protest Says NO to Fascists.” But instead papers shouted, “At Least 10 Hurt at Chaotic, Bloody Neo-Nazi Rally.”
What happened? Before the Hitlerites ever showed up, the cops shot tear gas to disperse protesters, creating mayhem. When the brownshirts arrived, a few goons used the confusion to knife several protesters. Anti-fascists reacted in self-defense.
City officials would much prefer to turn their backs on fascists rather than have counter-demonstrators draw negative attention to their town. The media plays along with stories of violence that paint civil rights activists as being dangerous as fascists. This was the case with an SF Chronicle column that FSP member Bob P. rebutted with a letter to the editor.
With both the police and Nazis resorting to violence, a good strategy is to organize a united front to build a mass, militant, but orderly, counter-demonstration, one that offers no pretext for attack. Key to success is the participation of unionists; they know how to use solidarity to defend themselves.
Donald Trump’s bigotry emboldens the ultra-right. We have to be well-prepared to stand up to them when they crawl out from under their rocks. The united front is our best strategy and with it we can draw others to join us.