Interview by G & I
Insofar as we know, It’s Going Down is one of best platforms presenting news from an antifascist perspective. Has the federal classification of antifa as domestic terrorists caused any repression of your website?
There is no federal classification of antifa as domestic terrorists as the US lacks the legal infrastructure to designate domestic groups as such….
Before leaving office, Trump did issue an executive order that stated antifascists would be added to the list of groups banned under the so-called ‘Muslim Ban’ or Travel Ban, however no one was clear how this would be implemented or if this was legally possible, and Biden has already thrown out those executive orders regardless.
The push by the Trump administration to label antifascists as domestic terrorists has however been picked up as a rallying cry by sections of the GOP and the far-Right….
At the same time, repressive State organs such as the FBI, DHS, and Joint Terrorism Task Forces operating out of Fusion Centers routinely place heavy emphasis on anarchist, Black Lives Matter, and antifascist groups. For instance, thanks to Freedom of Information Act Requests, we know that police in Berkeley referred to “Black Lives Matter” and “ANTIFA” as “hate groups” in the lead up to counter-protests to far-Right rallies. Homeland Security even pushed the line that antifascists were a bigger threat than the far-Right in the lead up to Charlottesville.
The FBI has also ramped up surveillance of Black Lives Matter, creating a designation of “Black Identity Extremists” and also creating a so-called “Iron Fist” program to disrupt the current Black liberation movement; all of which echos back to COINTELPRO [from the 1960s.]
In the wake of the far-Right storming of the capitol on January 6th, it is incumbent upon autonomous social movements and the Left in general to remind the public that for years the State allowed the fascist Right to grow, while focusing on coming down against the Left. Giving the State more powers to repress even the far-Right, will ultimately be used even harder against movements from below.
What are your primary critiques of the mainstream liberal media’s approach to fascist and white supremacist activity?
The neoliberal press treated the ascension of the Alt-Right in 2016 as an oddity; an upper-middle class fascist movement that embraced white identity politics was something that they did not know how to cover. The fact that they believe racism and white supremacy to only be the station of poor and working-class whites speaks volumes to the ‘class gaze’ of many journalists. This reality was shattered however in Charlottesville, where the press was confronted, and in some cases attacked, by the very people they had been platforming for the past year….
The stance by the press overall towards antifascists and anarchists more broadly has been one largely of contempt. Before Charlottesville, there were literally more editorials written attacking antifascists in mainstream newspapers than there were attacking the Alt-Right. And while the red carpet was rolled out for the far-Right and volumes of explainer pieces were written about the movement, when it came to autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements and struggles, the press was afraid to dive deep and give a platform to those with radical anti-capitalist views — and for good reason. While news of Nazis sells, it does also not upset the owners of corporate media. This dynamic resulted in a reality where the media gave the far-Right a large platform to talk about their ideas, where antifascists, when they were interviewed at all, were forced to defend their tactics.
In short, if working people understood that they could self-organize and take on the far-Right without looking to the State or the police — and what other conclusion could one make under Trump — then what was stopping them from blocking ICE vans, stopping evictions, launching strikes and engaging in other forms of actions that put our own interests ahead of those in power?
As a guest on our show put it: the media exists to divorce social movement from their potential base of support within the wider population. While we are not opposed to talking to the media at times, we do so knowing that they are owned and controlled by forces that don’t have our best interests at heart.
What role do anarchist media projects, including It’s Going Down, play in challenging fascism?
IGD and other platforms have been able to massively shift the conversation around the far-Right while vindicating social movements pushing back against them. We’ve also been able to at times break stories — for instance exposing an Alt-Right member of Turning Point USA screaming racial slurs on video, thus causing a crisis within the organization and his removal. Just today, we learned that a member of the Proud Boys who has wormed his way into the local GOP was removed due to a video of them calling for the murder of migrants going around on the internet. Moreover, journalists for a lot of reasons also lack the fortitude to ‘break stories’ and challenge existing narratives. The fact that Unicorn Riot, IGD, and many others have pushed things so hard, allows journalists in the mainstream to report on what we’re already covering. The downside of this is that at times our work is stolen and not attributed back to us by larger outlets.
What antifascists are currently behind bars who were convicted for their political activities?
First we should mention, Gage Halupowski, currently serving a six year sentence for defending other protesters from a group of fascists armed with hammers. There is currently an outbreak at his prison, so please step up and support! Also anarchist prisoner Eric King faces constant attacks and harassment for being an outspoken antifascist and is currently fighting trumped up charges from the guards. Finally, hundreds of people are facing heavy charges following the rebellion that kicked off this summer following the police murder of George Floyd. We must all play a role in prisoner defense, so get in where you fit in and do what you can.
Anything else you want to say on these topics is welcome!
There’s a lot more we can say but the energy that exploded last summer needs to continue, albeit in new trajectories and projects. The neoliberal center is going to attempt to placate liberals and progressives and push for social peace; it’s our job to point out the contradictions and how similar both parties really are. We need to keep building up the mass networks and programs of mutual aid, tenant unions, and prison organizing which has been taking place across the US the past year and expand these projects. There’s a lot of new people around radical circles now that need to be caught up to speed on everything from security culture to community organizing — let’s not lose our momentum but keep growing. Already since Biden has been elected we’ve seen strikes in New York and riots against the police in Tacoma; things may have calmed down a bit, but nothing is going back to whatever ‘normal’ is in an age of catastrophic climate change and rising fascism. Get organized. Expand the capacity of your projects. Work on strengthening existing movement infrastructure and growing it. Solidify and build regional networks. Deepen relationships with the broader proletariat in every way possible.
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