Below is a short user’s guide to anti-fascism that we’ve developed, based on our personal experiences in attending and disrupting white supremacist rallies.
[This piece includes Anonymous contributors]
As anti-racist organizers, we frequently talk with people who wonder why we who oppose fascism, white supremacy, and other forms of organized violence feel compelled to show up to their assemblies to organize an opposition.
Often, people will say some version of: “Don’t feed the trolls,” or “Just ignore them.” This attitude describes what most people have been doing for many decades now. Yet this strategy of “looking the other way” is exactly what has allowed fascism and white supremacy to fester and grow unchecked.
Despite mainstream accusations that fascism and white supremacy were being overblown or exaggerated, these forces have been expanding and merging, particularly over the past decade, in groups such as the KKK, Aryan Nation, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, etc., as well as through newer groups such as Identity Evropa, the White Student Union, and the Alt-Right.
Sadly, because many people haven’t been keeping tabs on the rapid growth of white supremacist groups in the United States, they are now struggling to believe it’s actually as bad as it is. But when fascist Nazis gather, they are recruiting and building an army and a movement that allows them to grow unchallenged. It is imperative that we do not allow them another inch of space to grow. It will only get harder if we don’t do the work now.
Those of us who oppose the growth of these forms of violence are fully responsible for figuring out how to stop the rise of Nazism. No one else will do this work for us–it will take all of us working together. The government and police will not fight them. Indeed, they are core supporters of and participants in fascist and white nationalist groups, and the sooner we recognize how they are collaborating, the more we will be able to stop them from spreading.
Showing up to resist these forces helps us inspire each other. When it feels like the world is imploding and we are feeling more isolated than ever, recognizing each other and building moments of broader solidarity is healing and sustaining work. We can find each other in the streets. And in meetings. And in classrooms. And online. And anywhere resistance to this nightmare hellscape manifests.
Below is a user’s guide to anti-fascism that we’ve developed, based on our personal experiences in attending and disrupting white supremacist rallies. Let’s have each others’ backs and build international solidarity with and learn from others who are doing the work to resist all militarized, fascistic, ethno-terrorists. And take care of each other. This is vital work for our movement.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE:
- First & foremost, memorize the National Lawyer’s Guild hotline or write it on your skin. They will help you in case of arrest. If you see someone being arrested, get their full name & birth date, & report it on the National Lawyer’s Guild hotline. Their number is 415-285-1011.
- Have an emergency contact who is not present. Have their number written on your person in case something happens. Make sure they know that you’re here & tell them when they should expect to hear from you. If they haven’t heard from you by the agreed upon time, they can check the news, local hospitals, & arrest directories to find out if you’re safe.
- If you’re here with a buddy or group, stick together. Arrange a meetup spot in case phone signals get jammed. Solo individuals are much more vulnerable to abuse from white supremacists. They have been known to attack people at random in & around protest areas.
- Be prepared for the possibility of doxxing (having your identity & private information made public). Doxxing frequently results in extensive harassment, including death & r*pe threats. Consider covering your face & any tattoos or other identifying features. Take off or cover clothing that could identify you, e.g. anything with your company logo.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE PROTEST SITE:
- Identify any medics in the area. They will likely have signs or be wearing apparel with medic symbols. You or someone around you may need their assistance during the protest, so try to have a sense of where they are at all times.
- Identify legal observers. They are trained to report the details of events, especially the activities of police officers, to the National Lawyers Guild. If possible, let them know any time someone is being arrested.
- Scope out the protest site. Identify all exits. Be alert & know your surroundings at all times during the protest. Do not let yourself be cornered or “kettled in” to an area with no way out. This will make you vulnerable to attack & mass arrest.
SAFETY & SECURITY:
- The biggest threats to protesters come from white supremacists & police. They include bodily harm, potentially fatal injury, arrest, & having your identity revealed. By prioritizing security, we can keep each other & our identities safe.
- Look out for items that could be used as weapons. Alt-right have been known to bring guns (including assault rifles), knives, lead pipes, sticks, batons, pepper spray, fire crackers, & more to rallies. If you see someone with a weapon, keep a safe distance, warn the people around you, photograph the person, & report them.
- DO NOT POST about protests on social media. Police & right-wing informants will be monitoring.
- DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH leftists with their faces uncovered, & especially do not post identity-revealing photos online. We are here to protect each other, not to enable doxxing.
- DO NOT TALK TO POLICE except to report on alt-right. Police can & will lie to you, harass you, & try to frighten you into incriminating yourself & others. Do not share ANY information with officers, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Tell them that you refuse to talk to them without your attorney present. (This is your 5th Amendment right, & it applies everyone, including non-citizens.)
- Be aware that you risk arrest by bringing banned or illegal items to a protest area. The police will target leftists with harsher penalties than alt-right. If you commit a crime with your face not fully covered, you will likely be identified, either by police or by alt-right informants. Always keep one eye on police & listen for dispersal orders. Be aware that if you stay in the protest area after a dispersal order is given, you could be exposed to pepper spray & other violent means of repression.
- Put a password on your phone & DISABLE fingerprint unlocking. Both police & alt-right could break into your phone for doxxing, harassment, surveillance, & arrest. Be aware that your phone could be hacked remotely. Consider leaving electronics behind, turning them off, or putting them in airplane mode.
PRACTICE SOLIDARITY: Follow the lead of the most marginalized. If you are white, follow the lead of people of color. Never put a person of color in danger at a rally. People of color bear the brunt of white supremacist violence – never forget that their lives are more in danger than your own.
Keep marginalized people safe from harm. This may mean putting your body in the line of fire to protect someone less privileged than you. If skirmishes break out, escort disabled & elderly to safety. Use what privilege you have to protect those who are more vulnerable than you.
Keep your eyes & cameras trained on white supremacists & police. We don’t want them to identify us, but we do need to identify them. The more footage we have of them, the more leverage we have with which to protect our communities.
NEXT STEPS: Get more involved if you’re able. We need to stay active between protests in order for our movement to be successful. There are many roles for you to step into: medic, legal observer, copwatch, local government. Join local organizations such as Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee, Anti-Police Terror Project.
Learn more about the alt-right from reliable anti-racist sources such as Southern Poverty Law Center. Donate to anti-fascist & anti-racist organizers/organizations. It takes money to do things like put together medical kits & get protesters out of jail. If you can’t donate your money, then please donate your time.
Attend trainings & workshops to help you prepare for future events. Anti Police-Terror Project does First Responder trainings, for example, & the National Lawyers Guild regularly trains legal observers. Know Your Rights trainings are extremely useful. Remember: loose lips sink ships. NEVER divulge information about leftists or anti-fascist activities to anyone whose affiliations are unclear.
THE ALT-RIGHT IS ORGANIZED & OPERATING FROM A POSITION OF POLITICAL POWER, WEALTH, & CONTROL. THEY ARE EMBEDDED IN OUR GOVERNMENT, FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT TO THE HIGHEST OFFICE OF THE STATE. WE NEED TO BE ORGANIZED & STRATEGIC IN ORDER TO SUCCESSFULLY FACE THEM DOWN. NOW IS THE TIME TO GET INVOLVED.
Last, an important caveat: I do not think showing up to a demo is the only or necessarily most important way to shut down fascism, imperialism, white supremacy, and other violence. There are many other places where resistance can manifest, and I encourage us to get creative. I also recognize that each person has to calculate their risk, personal capacity, different modes of organizing, and experiences of internal oppressions within organizing spaces (our spaces are not free of the violences we are now confronting and naming, even on the left—there is much work ahead of us to build truly anti-oppressive organizing networks built on shared analyses, solidarities that cross many divisions, and joint struggle). So this is not a condemnation of anyone who seriously weighs these decisions and chooses to put their energies elsewhere. I see you and am thankful for all that you are doing, no matter where you put your body.