That’s an easy question. Old media, overpaid media talking heads, and political spinners are having difficulty answering that simple question.
On June 10, 2017 at Washington Square Park in Kansas City there were about forty or so right wingnuts in an anti-Muslim demonstration behind steel fence barricades, a large presence from the Kansas City Police (including mounted officers), around one hundred counter protesters behind yellow tape (the KCPD enforced separation zone between the groups), ACLU observers, and reportedly armed “three percenters” barring entrance to anyone they didn’t approve to the right wingnut area.
The counter protesters were a mix that included a few pacifists, a handful of Greens, and a bunch of masked anti-fascist kids dressed in black and red.
The demonstration(s) consisted of both groups taunting each other and yelling insults for over two hours.
The three percenters wouldn’t allow one of us into the right wingnut area to photograph. The KCPD kept us out of the buffer zone. We were free to roam the counter protesters’ area. Though, at one point toward the end of the demonstration a group of counter protesters angrily confronted us as we photographed them taunting the right wingnuts from across the street on Main.
Pro tip: if you’re doing anything in public you have no expectation of privacy. Expect to be photographed.
Earlier three right wingnuts trolled the counter protest area (one carrying a flag), walking through it while being trailed by some of the anti-fascists (who didn’t directly confront them) and ACLU observers (in green vests) filming them with smart phones.
You don’t normalize white supremacists, racists, fascists, Nazis or the KKK. Ever. Anti-fascists know this.
Old media and a lot of hand wringers have been going after anti-fascists in their usual lazy “both siderism” coverage. They’re not the same.
I’ve covered a lot of demonstrations, marches and protests over the years. I’ve seen anarchists, socialists, Maoists [to quote an incredulous Bob Yates, “Who’s a Maoist these days?], anti-fascists, liberals, “moderates”, farmers, ranchers, grandmothers, and moms with kids in strollers.
There’s no “card carrying” cadre, people just decide to show up. Besides, any organized protest in this age would be too much to ask or expect.
More of us will have to decide to show up if we’re going to save ourselves.
I’ve also witnessed individuals with crosses made out of red tape affixed to their overstuffed backpacks, ready to act as medics at large demonstrations. They, too, just decided to show up.
The only times I’ve seen anyone carrying a firearm (who was not a police officer) they were right wingnuts.
The anti-fascists may choose to wear protective gear because they don’t want to get their heads beat in. I’m good with that. In fact, I may add additional protective gear to my demonstration coverage go bag.
It’s been my direct observation over the years that the red and black clad anti-fascists won’t start something, but, by God, they’re prepared to step in if they need to.
Sometimes they do. From an individual who was in Charlottesville, Virginia:
…I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety…
…If you are unwilling to risk your bodily integrity to stand against literal Nazis, but you are willing to criticize the people out there who are taking this grave threat seriously but not in a way of which you approve….I just don’t know what to say to you. Truly. Your moral authority is bankrupt and you’re not helping. You’re a hypocrite…
This. Exactly this.
If you don’t speak out, if you don’t show up, if you don’t make a stand against the fascists and supremacists then you’ve acquiesced to their view of the world and their plans for the rest of us.
Go. Read the whole thing.