L.A.’s April 17 Anti-Nazi Protest:
A Tremendous Victory for Civil Rights!
Don’t let the LA Times and other media re-write history!
If you read the Los Angeles Times or watched some You Tube videos you would think that the protest against the National Socialist Movement on Saturday, April 17 was nothing but a riot. As one of the thirty-plus organizations and grassroots leaders who called for the demonstration, we see the event as a tremendous victory for civil rights where 3,000 folks took a stand against the most brutal elements of our society: self-avowed Nazis.
The crowd was a loud, militant rainbow which out-shouted and way out-numbered the small band of up to forty fascists who were escorted onto the City Hall lawn and protected by 300 or more police. Protesters were flamboyant queers, members from over half-a-dozen unions, several Jewish groups, immigrant rights organizers, lots of socialists and communists, black clad anarchists, feminists like Radical Women, the youthful New Black Riders Liberation Party, and many, many other community folk of all colors and persuasions. We started with a picket line until the white supremacists arrived and then we chanted, hooted and hollered for over an hour and drowned out the white supremacist message of bigotry.
Setting the record straight on two incidences of violence
2,975 protesters vented their fury by shouting at the fascists; twenty-five let their anger become physical, and gave the LA Times the opening they wanted to depict the demonstration as a mob.
The Times reported that two men were attacked by protesters. What they didn’t say was that the paparazzi-like media and one of the men provoked the crowd. They didn’t say that several protesters tried to prevent the first incident. Nor did the newspaper report that passions among some in the crowd were running especially high because of two very recent acts of white supremacist brutality: in Portland an anti-racist activist was beaten to death, it is believed by Nazi skinheads; and in Vancouver B.C., the home of an anti-fascist organizer was fire-bombed last week. Nor do they mention that white supremacist thugs frequently infiltrate demonstrations to spark violence and paint anti-fascists as “the problem,” exactly as the LA Times did.
In the first incident, a tall white man with swastika tattoos on his chest began to draw attention. Several of us tried to block him from protesters to prevent an incident, and we might have succeeded, had a bevy of media photographers not suddenly appeared, creating a scene. We tried to shoo them away to no avail. Once the crowd thought a Nazi skinhead was in their midst, the shoving started. Some brave young women linked arms and surrounded the man to protect him. Nevertheless he received a few punches. “I too could have thought he was a threat,” said one of our group “if I wasn’t close enough to smell his alcohol breath and see his toothless grin.”
The second instance involved one of those fanatical Christians who show up at gay pride marches and downtown street corners to damn fornicators and sinners to hell. He was spewing his bile through a bullhorn at the edge of the demonstration. One of us, having witnessed the previous scene, warned him to leave and he responded by calling her a blue-eyed Nazi. Shortly thereafter, he felt the fury of a handful of protesters determined to protect the protest.
As for the delightful scenes of NSM members cowering under red shields while being pelted with rocks as they tried to jumpstart their getaway car, this was a footnote to a day of proud protest.
The real news: Thousands turned out to defend our community from fascism
For every demonstrator who stood outside City Hall Saturday there are dozens more who wish they could have been there. As we left the protest carrying our signs “Feminists Against Nazis” and “Unionists say No to Fascism!” Latino workers at a bus stop asked us if “They” were gone. We assured them that for today, the Nazis were gone. We wish we could have assured them that the ugly bigots who prey on hard working immigrants were gone for good.
Let’s remember in this scenario who the violence-mongers are. The fascists explicitly adopt brutality as a tactic to scare good people into silence. Today, they attack day laborers at construction supply stores, gays leaving bars late at night, the homeless and vulnerable. Saturday’s demonstration let would-be-Hitlerites know that thousands are ready to speak out against their ultra-right politics. Working people of all colors, Muslims, feminists, Jews, Native Americans, queers, and the disabled are not going to be victimized by Nazi cruelty and scapegoating. We will defend ourselves and our brothers and sisters!
Hopefully, the next time the fascists decide to hold a public rally, we can form a united front that works together ahead of time and on the ground to minimize random acts that detract from our main message: The majority of people in Los Angeles will not abide white supremacists and we will defend ourselves from Nazi violence!
Issued by the Freedom Socialist Party, L.A.