by Anna Kunkin for LA Indymedia
Sunday, Apr. 18, 2010 at 6:30 PM
The Nazis came to Los Angeles and with it, some good and some bad news. The good news; the people can unify and show strength. The bad news; we have some work to do.
When it was announced that the National Socialists had picked City Hall in downtown LA for their next rally, the news spread like wildfire. The Nazis are coming! All hands out on April 17th! It was an insult! A direct affront! How dare they show face here in such a diverse city? Everyone was going to be there; everyone from the Black Riders to the Bus Riders Union vowed to have a presence.
And they did show up. It was truly one of the most diverse and beautiful groups of people I have ever seen in this city. As someone said, the Nazis have actually provided a great service by bringing us all together for a common cause. And it was a beautiful thing. Groups and individuals, some who had never showed up for anything before packed the street, the sidewalk and the lawn leading up to the police barrier set up to protect the enemy. And yes, there was a huge police presence. People complained about it. "Why are there so many cops? Why are all these cops here to protect the assholes? The city is broke! Why are we paying for this?" And granted; even some of the cops didn’t look too pleased to be there. But while maybe it was overkill, maybe there were way more than were needed, it seems that they did have a role to play today. ……
So now for the ugly part. The story is a little vague, and so far we haven’t been able to piece together all the facts. But it seems that there was some kind of fringe guy there……was he a Nazi with a suicide wish or was he just a random crazy with some weird ideas about Paganism and Christianity? I don’t know. I’ve heard that he was a homeless guy, that he was part of some cult; various stories. But he was there wandering around amidst the protesters while we were waiting for the Nazis to show up; supposedly carrying a sign with a Swastika on it trying to make some kind of point about what caused Nazism. And he was attacked by the crowd. Really attacked! From where I was standing I suddenly saw a concentration of people in the middle of the crowd; the kind of thing that you see surrounding an arrest at a rally with a lot of shouting and cameras being held up over heads. A fight! Something! I couldn’t tell. I’m very short and I knew that if I ran up to it I wouldn’t be able to see anything and I’d probably get hurt, so I kept my distance and watched from a space a prudent distance away. Eventually a bunch of cops ran up and escorted a shirtless man with tattoos covering his upper body out of the melee. I could see blood running down the back of his neck and what looked like wounds on his back and arms. He looked really hurt.
OK…Like I said. The facts so far are vague. But whether this guy is a Nazi or not, this whole episode is very disturbing. I believe we were there to show that we, the people on the bottom, or the left, or whatever we want to call ourselves, show up to protest the Nazis because we are different. Because we are better. Because we believe in something called Justice. In Humanity. In Human Rights and Dignity. And maybe for the most part that is true. And granted there were heroes in this episode. One of my Indymedia compas was quite the hero; taking some hits himself, protecting the guy with his legs while he continued to shoot pictures. Another man was there covering the guy’s head so the mob wouldn’t beat in his skull. Others yelled to stop.
Nevertheless this whole episode shows a lack of training; of consciousness, and of discipline on our part. This was nothing more or less than a typical mob scene.
So yeah. People are angry. We’ve taken some hits lately. We’ve had police murders and a lot of injustice. We’re watching our people being raided and families split apart. We’ve got idiot tea-partyers, no health care, and several terrible wars that are draining our resources. We’re watching our public services being not whittled but slashed, and our whole world is getting crazier and crazier. Down the rabbit hole Alice. Nothing makes sense. So people are frustrated and angry. They don’t know what to do.
And there’s no direction either. We’ve lost our great leaders. Locally, Don White who was always a voice of reason is gone. And Howard Zinn. The people who told us we’re right; that we have purpose; the people who kept us sane, are gone.
I remember before the big Democratic convention in LA in 2000 when we had constant trainings in everything from how to dress for a protest to how to talk to cops. Peaceful Civil Disobedience, jail solidarity, and tolerance and respect. We debated tactics. We discussed the use of tactics that maybe everyone wasn’t in agreement with….but we did it with respect. A lot of that is missing…..well, not all. There were trays of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat and rye bread today. There was a man with fresh water. There was a lot of good energy and solidarity. But the lack of training that is missing since 9-11 is a big and obvious hole; and after today’s events it’s super obvious that we need it back.
How can we as a movement set out to shame a hate group and then act with such shameful hate and intolerance? So what if the guy was acting in a provocative way?! Get him out of there. Ignore him! Yell at him! But don’t jump on him like a crazy hate mob!
Let’s look at this as we move forward. Let’s understand that we are all in a process of recreating ourselves and our world, and figure out how we can do better.
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