To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
June 11, 2017
RE: June 10th hate campaign swamped by counterprotesters
The fascist alt-right movement organized Islamophobic demonstrations across the country on June 10th. Like their counterparts in Europe, they viciously attack Islamic people as part of an attempt to forge repressive chains against working people as a whole. The June 10th actions were called a "National March Against Sharia" by the extremist group "ACT for America". Preliminary reports indicate that this rightist campaign was met by counterprotesters throughout the country, who generally outnumbered them.
Seattle was one of the areas where the rightists were vastly
outnumbered. A comrade from the Seattle Workers' Voice reports that
about 45-50 Trumpists and Nazis showed up at the "ACT for America"
rally. But despite lots of police defending them, they were basically
drowned out by about 500 counterprotesters. As the counterprotest wound
down, the rightists attacked it, but were driven back. The police
allowed the fascists to be as violent as they dared, and instead
arrested a few counterprotesters.
Members of Free Syria Seattle, who are Syrians opposed to the Assad dictatorship, took part in the counterprotest. They carried a sign declaring "Nazis support Assad", which referred to the many far right groups who have backed Assad. They also carried the three-star flag of the Syrian democratic uprising.
Far right hate groups have stepped up their action since the election of Trump. The struggle against them is going to be a continuing feature of the struggle against the Trump administration.
Below are excerpts from a couple of reports on Facebook about June 10th in Seattle:
"We held a great rally … against the band of anti-Muslim bigots at Seattle City Hall. No big fights but definitely some Proud Boys (an alt-right group), bikers and street preachers walking through our lines trying to fight. The IWW General Defense Committee has been working with Muslim Association of Puget Sound and CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) from the beginning. We were asked to lead the march on a tactical withdrawal to protect our Muslim guests back to Occidental park at noon. The whole march left City Hall. The fascists followed our march and attacked the rally at Occidental. The Seattle Police Dept protected the fascists and none of them were arrested even though there were only about 6 of them really starting fights. The police arrested 3 of the march organizers who were trying to keep the peace and zero fascists. The police pepper sprayed and hit us with bikes.
"If you didn't make it today at least help us control the narrative. Spread this."
And another participant wrote:
"The action in Seattle today confirmed a lot of what I already knew, but I still had been too optimistic it seems. Seattle Police Department is not that different from the Portland Police Bureau and today seemed like an echo from the Portland shit-show last week.
"SPD were to form a barrier between ACT for America and the motley crew of leftists, community leaders, veterans for peace, and most importantly, the Muslim coalition that made up the counter-protestors. SPD [were] wielding riot gear, facing us, their backs turned against bigots, many openly carrying weapons. They eventually just left our space open -- tensions rose as Proud Boys, Three Percenters (another right-wing group), and neo-Crusaders came to assert their mix of macho posturing and hate speech, a festering wound in the mayonnaise under-crust of American society.
"The counter-protestors peacefully turned to return back to Occidental Square, where they had a permit to rally in for the day. The bigots attempted to intercept our procession but were stopped by the SPD barrier that followed alongside us. The police once again cordoned off the perimeter once we arrived at Occidental Square, again, facing us. They eventually let some Proud Boys in, with their fists flailing. After organizers rightfully defended themselves by forcing them out of the rally, SPD pepper sprayed and threw their bikes at us. Three of our organizers were arrested. None of the bigots were, as they mocked us from the safety behind the police officers' backs.
"I sound like a broken record, but our 'public servants' have clearly drawn a line in the sand and taken a side. What do we do?"
Another testimony regarding the June 10th "anti-Sharia" action organized by the hate "ACT for America" and the counter protest:
I was a part of the marshal team for the counter protest today and feel it is critical that I get my perspective out there on what happened. The marshal team was comprised of individuals from the Greater Seattle General Defense Committee as well as numerous folks from other organizations from the coalition that organized the action. Our job was to facilitate the counter protest's march to and from City Hall Plaza and help work to de-escalate situations and keep participants safe throughout the duration. We had two fantastic, designated police liaisons who before the march started, went to City Hall and spoke with multiple SPD commanders regarding our intentions to keep the rallies separated and safe. They were told by SPD that if the fascists wanted to march, they could, and that we would be expected to keep a block away from them which was in accordance with our own intentions anyways. Unfortunately, the fascists were NOT held to the same standard by SPD.
While at City Hall Plaza, I personally escorted multiple groups of alt-righters, Proud Boys, and even Joey Gibson himself with his violent motorcycle club buddies through our crowd and helped them safely get to their rally without causing a scene on our end. One particular group, mostly comprised of Proud Boys, crossed through our lines multiple times. I personally witnessed one of them unplug one of our speakers and violently push multiple people out of his way. During their last foray into our crowd, people moved to stop them from coming in and starting a fight and were immediately hit in the face by two of the Proud Boys. This all happened mere feet from at least 2 dozen SPD officers. As a marshal, I immediately went to them, identified myself as one of the marshal team, and asked that they help get the assailants away from us. I was met with a response of "If you aren't letting them march through your crowd, then we can't stop them from hitting you." The assailants were both pulled to safety by SPD and allowed to wander off. It's safe to say that if any group of counter protestors would have tried to shoulder their way through the fascist rally, SPD would NEVER respond in such a manner. In fact, just last week Portland Police Bureau and DHS officers cooperated with far-right militia members in arresting peaceful anti-fascists for merely being in the vicinity of their rally space. It is clear that they have no actual interest in free speech or peaceful engagement.
Around 12-12:30, we began assembling to escort our community members from MAPS [Muslim Association of Puget Sound] and CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] who were running an "Ask a Muslim" booth at the rally safely to our dispersal point at Occidental Square. As our march departed, the opposite direction from the hate rally, SPD allowed a group of around 20 of them (including the same Proud Boys, Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, and "Tiny", a violent biker) to stalk our march a block away. This group then went to the Central Saloon and began drinking.
We arrived at Occidental Square and had a few more speakers before we began dispersing. While this was happening, a group of about 10 of the fascists attempted to come down and into the park. While this situation was arising, another group of them led by the same assaultive Proud Boys from before came from the other direction, walked by SPD officers, and went straight into the park and began attacking people. During this altercation, 3 people were violently arrested while the same individuals who had already assaulted people earlier in front of SPD were allowed, again, to go free.
SPD needs to be held accountable. The individuals who assaulted our people, who were part of a beautiful, rowdy, yet very peaceful protest need to be held accountable. Please, if you can, start contacting your city council members, mayor, and police chief demanding accountability for allowing these assaults to happen. Help get the story of what actually happened today out to all of the standard bullshit media outlets. We all need to be strong and support the folks who got hurt and arrested today while taking action against hate in our community by violent thugs from out of town.
Feel free to share this, but copy and paste it without crediting it to me. [The D/SWV list, in accord with this request, therefore leaves out the author's name.] <>
The June 2nd issue of the D/SWV list carried the article "Trump withdraws the US from the struggle against global warming -- part one". It starts "On Thursday May 29". It should read "On Thursday June 1".
The June 5th issue of the D/SWV
list carries several articles including "Stop Trump's war on the
environment (on the multitude of steps by Trump against the earth)".
The second sentence in the next to last paragraph states that
"Activists from 350.org and other groups initially stopped the Keystone
XL pipeline and forced the Obama administration to suspend it." It
should say "the Dakota Access Pipeline", not the Keystone XL pipeline.
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