The following was written by one of the Anti-Fascist arrestees who requested to remain anonymous.
Even as public exposure after Charlottesville has turned the tide and the fascist movement has begun to fracture, the narrative and aims of the right have been taken up as always by the state. The Berkeley mayor has tried to designate “Antifa” as a gang. Berkeley police have pursued serious charges against anti-fascist protestors, even trying to charge community members with “hate crimes” for alleged anti-fascist graffiti. The California Highway Patrol have pursued serious charges against counter protestors to the nazi’s attempted rally at the state capital last summer. Repression is happening all around us and solidarity is our best weapon against it.
The state’s cooperation in the right-wing story about “Antifa” is also taking place at the national level. After Milo Yiannopolis’ attempted speech at UC Berkeley was shut down by thousands of counter-protestors in February, a petition began circulating online which sought to have “Antifa” labeled as a terrorist organization. Recently this goal has come to fruition, as the department of homeland security has designated “Antifa” a terrorist group.
In this case DHS collaborates with right-wing anger about anti-fascism, which is a consistent theme of this first year of resistance to the Trump regime. Right-wing extremists have killed 46 people since 2001. Some, like Jeremy Christian are organized Nazis. In March of this year, a 66 year old Black man named Timothy Caughman was stabbed to death in Manhattan by a white supremacist upset about “interracial relationships.” Fascist groups like Identity Evropa are engaged in constant harassment campaigns and recruitment campaigns on college campuses and in the streets of the bay. In late September, a synagogue was graffitied in Oakland. Who are the terrorists? Who have the antifascists killed? Who have the “Antifa” even killed? No one.
The shut-down of the Milo event was also the beginning of the alt-right’s perverse fascination with the streets of Berkeley. Remember, the cops and klan (and the alt-right) go hand and hand. Despite not having permits for their four Berkeley events this year, police met with alt-right organizers ahead of the actions, physically protected and facilitated their presence, and disproportionately targeted counter-protesters for detention, disarmament, and arrest. In Portland at a rally in early June, a member of the right-wing militia the Oathkeepers was even allowed by DHS agents to assist in arresting a counter-protester. Berkeley police have also assisted in a targeting campaign against a local professor. Eric Clanton was targeted with accusations and an avalanche of online harassment in the wake of the April 15 engagement in Berkeley. As a result of these accusation made by white-supremacists on the internet, two houses were raided by over a dozen cops with guns drawn, several doors were smashed in, and Eric was arrested, charged with four felonies and held at $200,000 bail. All of this in response to a story told and popularized in the nastiest most racist corners of the internet. Remember, the alt-right lie about everything.
Furthermore, one year after antifascists shut down a neo-nazi demonstration in Sacramento, three counter-protesters were arrested and held on up to $250,000 dollars in bail. Two of them were brought all the way from southern California. These are just the most publicized examples of a phenomenon that is much broader in scope, even locally. Dozens of other arrestees are facing charges in connection with this year’s actions in Berkeley and across the country, and investigations will certainly continue. What happened to Eric can happen in reverse too. When the state criminalizes antifascists their names become public and they are at risk of being targeted for threats and harassment by the alt-right.
It is also essential to remember that repression is NOT new, not unique, and not just something that happens when there are confrontations in the streets. Dejuan Hall was brutally beaten and arrested by the police in Vallejo in March of this year in an incident that was filmed. Jesse Buna, one of the people filming, was also arrested and both face charges of assault on an officer. The message here is clear: any resistance to white supremacy and the police can make you a physical and a legal target. In fact, white-supremacists are so embedded in local police agencies that the FBI refuses to share information on white supremacist organizing with local law enforcement.
This is the effect of strategies by both the right and the state to make the streets more dangerous for people who would resist the Trump regime. These strategies go beyond the jails and courts too. Months before Heather Heyer was murdered in the streets of Charlottesville by a member of the neo-nazi group American Vanguard, state legislators were working to legitimize violence against those who protested in the street. 7-8 state houses introduced legislation that would limit liability for people running their cars through protestors in the street. Moreover, laws across the country have been passed or introduced to limit constraints on police, and stiffen penalties for protestors. Just this month the Berkeley city council voted to allow police to deploy pepper spray against protestors.
Repression is coming down hard in this time across the country. The state is responding to the strength of our organizing. In addition to the dozens of antifascist defendants in California, more than two hundred people are facing years of prison time for protesting Trump’s inauguration in Washington D.C. simply because corporate property was damaged. Hundreds more are facing charges for protecting indigenous water and land by resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Not only does this create trauma and anxiety for defendants and their loved ones, but it ripples out to create fear and hesitation for anyone who chooses to resist. Especially those who will not let power prescribe for them how they resist.
Now more than ever it is essential to support anti-fascist defendants and all targets of repression. These are all attempts to criminalize and deter the growing momentum of organized resistance, all attempts to create feelings of hopelessness, to remind us that the state will always be bigger and more powerful than we are. This hopelessness breeds the complicity that state power thrives on. We know better, we know that the people will always be bigger, and will always be more powerful when we stand together. Solidarity is our strength, so continued resistance in this time must mean standing together against our common enemies. It must mean standing behind and with people who are targeted by the right and by the state. It must mean standing with and organizing with the communities that this fascist movement seeks to victimize and erase.
It must also mean recognizing that solidarity does not erase our tactical and ideological differences, it only gives us more impetus to respect one another despite them. We are not a monolith, we are a hydra. We are all antifascists!