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Resist Racist Violence & Hate in Berkeley with SURJ Bay Area
August 27, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Our powerful SURJ contingent will gather to refuse violence and intimidation by white supremacists and nazis who intend to rally in Berkeley on August 27. Our strength is in our numbers.
Meet at Ohlone Park and march with us to Berkeley City Hall where we will maintain a presence and send a clear message: No racism, no hate speech in Berkeley. We stand strong for Black lives and racial justice, and shoulder to shoulder against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and the scapegoating of immigrants.
Location: Meet at Ohlone Park (Hearst and Martin Luther King Blvd.), Berkeley
Stay tuned to this page for updates and changes.
SURJ Anti-Fascist FAQ
Note: For the purposes of this document, we use the term “white supremacist” to refer to all racist, far-right groups.
Background – Who, What, Why
Q: WHO are the white supremacists?
A: White supremacist organizing in Berkeley includes a variety of groups and players that include –
White Nationalist Neo-Nazis (Identity Evropa, The Proud Boys, Bay Area Kyle ‘Based Stickman’ Chapman, Berkeley-based Daniel Quillnan, Richard Black): Believe that white people should maintain their majority and political and economic dominance and that immigration and multiculturalism amount to “white genocide”. Neo-Nazis borrow from Nazi doctrine and focus on the creation of a fascist political state.
Alt-right (militia groups The Oath Keepers, The Three Percenters; Richard Spencer): Far-right, white supremacist, anti-establishment conservatism.
Alt-lite: Anti-establishment far-right conservatives who ‘care about Western values’, do not identify as openly white supremacist, but advocate for racist and xenophobic policies.
Fascists: Believe in Fascism as a political philosophy, movement, or regime that promotes nation and often the white “race” above the individual. Stands for a centralized autocratic government, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of political opposition, dissenting and “othered” voices (Black, Native, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latin@s, LGBTIQ, Fat-positive, et al).
Q: WHY are white supremacists coming to Berkeley?
A: White supremacists believe that by having a presence in one of the most liberal cities in the country, they can go anywhere. They count on attracting national media coverage and exploit social media virality to recruit nationally. College campuses are targeted to put an intellectual veneer on their message and to recruit young people who are still forming their ideas about the world.
Q: Why is white supremacist “speech” a problem?
A: White supremacists frame their events as patriotic exercises of ‘free speech’ to provide a veneer of social legitimacy for the mainstream promotion of their racist, neo-nazi ideology. The public events are recruitment rallies. They raise thousands of dollars online by posting viral videos of themselves fighting anti-fascist leftists. Public speech promoting ideologies of hate, whether one considers it violent in it’s own right or not, almost always parallels violent actions, attacks on people of color and queer bashing.
In Berkeley, in addition to organizing rallies in MLK park, white supremacists have sent Berkeley’s Mayor hundreds of death threats. The Berkeley Jewish Community Center has received an avalanche of anti-Semitic threats and graffiti – much of which is directed at children at the daycare. White supremacists have doxxed and targeted leftist protestors, physically assaulted people, and damaged property at Black and POC-owned local businesses.
Q: If we ignore the white supremacists, won’t they go away?
A: No. White supremacists are highly organized through well-funded national networks. They are not isolated extremists. Their organizations actively recruit people and grow their movement. Such groups have always been around, but they have been more visible and emboldened recently by the rhetoric of the current president, and the appointment of known white supremacists such as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions to Cabinet-level positions. History has shown us that fascists do not just ‘go away’ when they are unopposed. Instead they take advantage of the room to move and attempt to normalize hate and discrimination.
Q: Why do white people need to actively resist white supremacists?
A: White supremacist violence, whether it be in the form of neo-Nazis attacking political rallies and people on the street, or the capitalist State systematically murdering and incarcerating millions of black and brown people, is borne out of the same system. Therefore, our anti-racist politics must also include addressing the growing problem of white supremacists in a direct and practical way.
Responding to White Supremacists
Q: What is SURJ doing to further anti-fascist work?
Other SURJ chapters around the country are organizing counter-protests, demonstrations, countering/removing racist propaganda, creating community education forum or materials, pushing city councils to pass resolutions opposing white supremacist group and working in coalition with POC-led anti-racist organizations. POC-led organizations that SURJ-BA works with have asked us broadly to organize white people to challenge the white supremacists and their hateful jargon and actions, which is directly in line with the SURJ mission.
Q: What strategies have been effective in organizing against white supremacists?
A: The most effective strategy is when anti-racist activists and community members show up in large numbers to clearly state that message that hate is not welcome. White supremacists have been outnumbered in Portland, Charlottesville, Berkeley, and other cities.
Uniting includes respecting that many tactics are used, sometimes including physical contact/defense. Physical resistance has been part of successful social movements in the U.S. and all over the world. For white people, avoiding organizing against white supremacists because one doesn’t agree with tactics used by other anti-racist protesters is an exercise of privilege. People of color targeted by white supremacists don’t have that choice. We must stand in solidarity with one another.
Q: What is ‘antifa’?
A: Antifa is short for anti-fascist and denotes opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. The media often associates ‘antifa’ with militant activism. A broader understanding of ‘anti-fascist’ or ‘antifa’ includes a wide variety of organizing activities.
Q: What is ‘Black Bloc’?
A: ‘Black Bloc’ is a tactic, and not a single entity, nor an organization. Blocs are a form of collective action composed of ad-hoc groups of individuals or affinity groups that last for the duration of a march or rally. Individuals retain their anonymity by wearing black clothing and masking their faces. Black Blocs often function in protective roles to assist street medics treating injured protesters and defending people from attacks from the far-right or police.
Q: Why are anarchists often associated with anti-fascist activities?
A: Anarchists believe in the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without the coercive or repressive force of the State. Many anarchists are involved in anti-fascist organizing because they believe that the targets of fascist violence – Black people, immigrants, people of color, women, Queer and trans folks, etc – have a right to live free without fear of violence being inflicted upon them by the State or from racist vigilante groups. Not all anarchists are anti-fascist, nor do all anti-fascists identify as anarchist. The media often sensationalizes militant, anti-fascist action as “anarchist,” while often ignoring non-militant actions and turning a blind eye to the violent behavior of white supremacists.
Q: I’m afraid of getting hurt. How can I help without engaging in physical confrontation?
A: There is a role for everyone in anti-fascist work. This includes joining and/or organizing demonstrations, making signs and banners, and doing community outreach and education. Find out what people who are targeted by white supremacists need, and talk with neighbors and friends about what’s going on in the community.
Further reading on terms and white supremacist groups: https://www.splcenter.org/
Other further reading: