|Amber Cummings(right) and Chris Ross(left) hold a Trump flag and "Jail Antifa" sign during their December 1st "March Against Marxism" Rally.|
By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH
Amber Cummings, the far-right activist behind a handful of events in Berkeley in the last two years, lead five other attendees in a “March Against Marxism/Christmas Toy Drive” around noon on Saturday.
Cummings planned to drop off toys at the Marine Recruiting Center at 64 Shattuck Ave, which is participating in a Toys for Tots drive. She chose the location in response to black-clad protesters smashing its windows during a previous “No to Marxism” rally she organized in August.
Along the way to the recruitment center Cummings shouted “Merry Christmas! We’re here to liberate Berkeley from Marxism!” Cummings has previously told LCRW she is a firm believer in the “New World Order” conspiracies made popular in part by infamous radio and talk show host Alex Jones. Her posts on social media read like John Birch Society literature, full of claims that Berkeley is a “communist hive” and “communist globalism” is planning to take over the world.
“Sadly we also have to continue to expose the communist scourage [sic] still taking place in many cities like Berkeley and others nationwide. It is important we continue to protest communism and show these terrorists in Antifa, Refuse Fascism, and BAMN we will not be afraid to march in our American cities and be bullied by communist thugs and we celebrate Christmas and honor our nation,” she wrote on the Facebook page for the event.
Cummings and many far-right activists believe BAMN, Refuse Fascism and antifa are all communist agents linked to the globalist plot.
BAMN, or By Any Means Necessary, is a radical left activist group that has attended and opposed right-wing rallies on the West Coast since the rise of President Donald J. Trump. Members of BAMN have frequently engaged in physical confrontations with members of the far-right, notably Yvette Felarca, who faced rioting and assault charges and was stabbed at a rally by the white nationalist Traditionalist Workers Party in Sacramento in 2016.
Refuse Fascism is similar group that frequents far-right protests in the Bay Area. They are closely associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party chaired by Bob Avakian as reported by Mic.com’s Jack Smith IV last November. LCRW reporters have repeatedly observed organizers with Refuse Fascism proselytizing Avakian’s “New Synthesis of Communism” at rallies in the past two years.
Antifa, short for anti-fascist, is a philosophy and set of tactics taken by mostly left-leaning people who seek to combat what they perceive as growing threats of racist, extreme right and/or fascist organizing. While media outlets like ItsGoingDown.org and Twitter accounts such as @BerkeleyAntifa practice and promote the tactics, antifa is not a centrally organized group. Many antifa activists participate in “black bloc,” a counter-surveillance tactic where activists dress in black head-to-toe, conceal their faces from cameras and march together in large groups. Such black blocs have fought with Cummings and her colleagues at previous rallies.
On August 5th, a black bloc formed to oppose Cummings' previous rally. The large turnout was in part prompted by Cummings’ organizing with American Guard, as reported by IndyBay. American Guard (AG) is a militia the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes as having “a background with connections to anti-immigrant extremism, hatred, and violence.” According to the ADL, American Guard’s founder Brien James also founded Vinlanders Social Club, a racist gang whose members have been tied to several murders. C-Ville Weekly documented American Guard’s presence at the deadly Unite the Right event in Charlottesville in 2017. Amber later asked American Guard members not to attend the August 5th event. However, she retracted her stance on them in November and once again embraced the group.
“I think it is showing if a man like their leader an ex Hammer Skinhead can change, he is trying to show anyone can and he is leading be [sic] example and not getting any respect for it,” Cummings wrote on November 2nd.
“Hey thanks Amber. Wishing you the best in this fight,” James, who is still the group’s national president, said in the post’s comments.
It is unclear whether the few people who shouted at, booed or took pictures of Cummings’ group were adherents of antifa beliefs or tactics. No members of Refuse Fascism or BAMN showed up to counter-protest Cummings this time.
When the group, which included fellow organizers Lindsay Grathwohl and Chris Ross and the “Kekistani” vlogger Steven Powles, who goes by ‘Crowman17” online, reached the recruitment center, the lights were off and an iron gate was closed in front of it. The group proceeded to the main Berkeley Police/Fire station near MLK Park, which was also closed. Cummings told her followers “Let’s just march around for a little bit” before deciding to walk down Shattuck and drop the toys off at Berkeley Fire Station No. 5.
During the march, Powles turned to his friend Alex Gold and said “Merry Christmas, Mr. Gold. What do you want? Some Jew gold for Christmas?” Despite poor audio quality, the comment can be heard on his livestream around 1:04. LCRW later asked him to explain the comment.
“His last name is Gold, so sometimes we call him Jewish, you know, ‘cause ‘Gold.’ So we make jokes about him with his Jew gold. And plus, I don’t know, I think someone in his family is Jewish or something,” Powles said.
“It’s mostly because we’re anti-Semitic and we’re anti-Israel and we’re going to bomb those fuckers if we ever come into power. That’s the first order of Kekistan,” Powles added. When asked if he really believes this, Powles laughed and said “No.”
The SPLC describes “Kekistan” as a “satirical religion” associated with the alt-right. It grew in 2016 and 2017 out of online forums, particularly 4chan.org, an imageboard with over a decade of history as a source of memes and internet trolling campaigns. 4chan is well known online as a place where internet pranksters and sincere extremists mingle. Kekistan iconography includes a flag modeled after the Nazi war flag, except green instead of red and the 4chan four-leaf clover instead of a swastika. Powles usually carries the “Kek Flag” to rallies, but decided against it for this event, saying he’s “not pushing it so hard at the moment.”
“[A] Kekistani apparently strangled his mother to death or something, his liberal mother. And there’s all those pictures of him with the Kek Flag,” Powles said, referring to 15-year old Gregory Ramos of Florida, who, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, allegedly committed the murder after a fight over bad grades on November 2nd and whose Facebook page, as reported by Buzzfeed’s Joe Bernstein, had numerous pro-Trump and Kekistan-related images.
“If you want my opinion, he denounced himself from Kekistan, Pepe, and the whole Trump movement altogether,” Powles said, adding “We’re law-abiding citizens.”
The group proceeded back down Shattuck towards the BART station, where they stood around for nearly an hour posing with their signs and Trump flags to occasional honks of approval from cars and boos from a few passers-by.
They decided to call it quits and headed back to their cars around 4:30pm. Cummings has not yet announced plans for another rally.
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