First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
On Sunday evening, July 22nd, Nia Wilson was murdered by a white nationalist on the BART train in Oakland, CA. The security cameras recorded her helping an elderly woman get off the train at the MacArthur station when she and her sister were stabbed by 27 year, Jon Cowell.
In response, over 1,000 people gathered outside the MacArthur Bart station in Oakland to commemorate her life. The march then moved to Make Westings, a bar where a group of white nationalists planned to meet up that very evening. With over 1,000 people rallying outside the bar, the few Alt-Righters who did show up were yelled at and almost beat up before the police could surround them and protect them (as per usual). The police shot off flash bang grenades and made arrests – further riling up the crowd, which held their own and even rescued some comrades from arrest.
And this was just the most recent attack near me. According to multiple news reports: The past few days saw fascist, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi attacks take place across the US. In Kansas City, a long time white supremacist murdered an African-American woman, the latest in a long line of racially motivated attacks. In Pennsylvania, a white man, Chad Merrill, was murdered in a restaurant when he stuck up for his friend, and African-American man, in the face of racial abuse.
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017 report on extremist-related murders in the United States (which is not a report on every racist attack but on the most extreme attacks), 18 of 34 deaths were directly related to white supremacists. The black father who was recently shot by a white man in Florida over a parking spot, would not be considered in this listing and yet his actions were extremely racist. That is to say, the number of white men that are murdering black people is absolutely disproportionate to any experience of “oppressive violence” geared toward white men.
It should also be noted that the police military forces, an inherently racist institution, have already murdered 334 black, brown, and “unknown races” out of the total 570 killings.
Among all of these murders we also know that increasingly militarized immigration forces are caging babies, separating families, losing hundreds of children, and unlawfully arresting, harassing, and abusing migrant families (even those with all the right bureaucratic paperwork). We also have countless stories of black and brown people continually being terrorized by the police, with endless videos circulating online, and little to nothing being done to punish these officers or hold them accountable to their violence.
The police claim to use non-lethal weapons to abuse black bodies with but what is now being reported is that these supposedly non-lethal weapons are actually highly lethal. The New York Times reports: A Reuters investigation published in 2017 found that more than 1,000 people in the United States had died after being stunned with Tasers, largely since 2000. In more than 150 of those cases, the Tasers were a cause or contributing factor to the people’s deaths, the news organization reported.
Amidst all of this terrifying violence the white supremacists continue planning events in our cities and continue to terrorize our vulnerable community members. Throughout August there are several fascist groups organizing mobilizations around the country: “On August 4th, people will mobilize to take on Patriot Prayer again in Portland, as will they in Berkeley on August 5th. On August 11th, there is a rally organized by students in Charlottesville, and on August 12th in DC, there is a mass mobilization against Unite the Right #2.” Head over to #AllOutAugust for more details.
If there was ever a time that we as a community needed to stand up for immigrants, black and brown bodies, trans lives, and other marginalized, oppressed, and alienated peoples, it is now. As one big family, we cannot let our sisters, brothers, and non-conforming friends be attacked by racists, white supremacists, and fascists. We cannot stand idly by as our neighbors are murdered, beaten up, raped, and violently attacked.
If pacifism is keeping you from defending yourself and your community, your pacifism is responsible for our deaths and our bruises. You have blood on your pacified hands.
Self-defense for the sake of survival is absolutely vital. Some radicals are helping create infrastructure for both personal and communal liberatory self-defense. In Chicago, the Haymaker Gym is offering a self-defense class through martials arts and strength training. They organize themselves on the basis of strength, solidarity, and autonomy:
Strength: Strength is not primarily being able to resist or overcome forces outside of us. To us, strength means overcoming our own weaknesses – it means changing ourselves, together. Such strength is necessary if we are to become a force capable not only of self-defense, but of social transformation.
Solidarity: We believe in solidarity because we know our personal transformation is also a collective transformation and, as the saying goes, an injury to one is an injury to all. We vow to care for each other in times of vulnerability and to keep each other safe as we become dangerous together.
Autonomy: We believe in autonomy because strength and care cannot grow amidst institutions that disempower us. In this precarious world, we don’t expect anyone to come and save us. We have to fight for ourselves and each other, because we’re all we’ve got.
It is important that radicals organize oppressed and vulnerable peoples into self-defense trainings for the sake of their survival. This isn’t about a rowdy bunch of kids wanting to fight the State, this isn’t a new Weather Underground movement, and this isn’t whatever the neo-colonial Democrats suggest it is. This is about keeping our daughters, sisters, brothers, queer comrades, migrant friends, and black bodies off of the medical examiner table. This is about fighting white supremacy for the sake of our collective liberation.
Stand up! Fight Back!
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hope to see you in the streets defending our community on August 5th in Berkeley. Here is the call to action:
On August 5, we will gather to maintain a Bay Area free of fascism and white supremacy, sweeping out those that seek to deport, cage, harm, or extinguish members of our communities. Attacks on immigrants, Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, Muslims, the un-housed, queer and trans folks, disabled people, and/or women are becoming more prevalent as fascism reasserts itself in governments, state agencies, and increasingly organized groups across the globe. In the US, law enforcement, ICE and other deportation agents, and the jails and prisons work to remind people that this country was built on Indigenous land, on the backs of enslaved people, and that the prison industrial complex currently functions to maintain racial capitalism. We are reminded of this every time police kill another Black, Brown, and/or trans person in the streets. This country was founded on white supremacy and we must rise up with others around the world in an international movement to resist the fascism of both government and vigilantes. It’s time to take out the trash.
This is a community-wide call for each of us to perform critical community maintenance by removing fascists and white supremacists from our community. This will be a festival of resilience starting in Ohlone Park at 2pm going to MLK park for August 5, 2018. Featuring local artists, activists, musicians, comedians and everyday people. Our rally will send a clear message: “No hate in the Bay.”