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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Field Notes: Hog Wild with the PNW Youth Liberation Front


BY JORDAN JACKSON|SPECIAL TO LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH

EDITOR'S NOTE: I met Jordan on August 17th this year at Cider Riot. It was the evening after former InfoWars correspondent Joe Biggs and the Proud Boys held a march in Portland, shoring up their numbers with members of American Guard–a neo-Nazi front group. 

This gonzo article by Jordan isn't about that day. It's about, as he says, "[j]ust another day in Portland" about a month later. 

I think it's important to give people who don't live in a place and didn't experience something themselves an idea of what it was like for someone who did. Jordan did the important work of collecting interviews with liberal activists and members of the PNW Youth Liberation Front and reporting scenes during the Climate March which sketch an insightful and revealing portrait of what protests are like in Portland. The conflicts, arguments and incidents between people echo larger ideological and material ones happening across the country and across the world. I found his narrative hard to put down from beginning to end and hope you will to. You can read it below or on Medium here. Please follow Jordan and his work on Twitter here

***

    “Run fast, comrade, the old world is behind you!”

    –
Anonymous Situationist Graffiti, Paris ‘68


I can report with absolute certainty that the kids are not alright. They shouldn’t be. The Baby Boomers of Amerika have committed the most egregious acts of generational warfare in human history. Forget the Summer of Love, forget the whole Lost Cause mythology of the hippie generation and just look at the scoreboard. They were given a booming economy, a strong social safety net, and an opportunity for progress on civil rights. What did they build with that? Mass incarceration, a new Gilded Age, and neoliberalism. Three Boomers have been President: Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Donald Trump. I rest my case. Time and again, they’ve proven themselves willing to sacrifice their children and grandchildren on the altar of Right Now. God damn them. God help all of us.

Why am I pontificating on the nature of generational conflict? I spent the Global Climate Strike with a pack of wild zoomers and I’ve been trying to sort through the experience since. Enough preamble; let’s begin.

It was raining in Portland and I was waiting for a late bus. A damn near universal experience in this godforsaken city. The delay was far from ideal. I don’t think that I’ve ever left for a protest with time to spare, and the 9/20 Global Climate Strike was no exception. I’m the same way with planes.

I was rereading my favorite passage from the jeremiad ‘The Uninhabitable Earth” on my phone as I chugged an Orange Red Bull and waited for my Adderall to kick in. This bit, “the belief that climate could be plausibly governed, or managed, by any institution or human instrument presently at hand is another wide-eyed climate delusion.” It seemed appropriate for the moment. Extinction is a strong argument for direct action. If the alternative is annihilation, very few solutions sound radical.

When the bus finally arrived, it was too packed with students to let any of us on. I called up a Lyft. The driver took one look at my destination and started fulminating about the “18 million dollars” that the protest would cost the city’s Hardworking Taxpayers. This was because the Portland Public Schools decided to let anyone with a permission slip attend the demonstrations. He continued droning on as we passed into downtown. The second we got near City Hall I had him pull over. There was a rant burning a hole in my throat and he wasn’t worth the time.

The streets were packed with people. The Willamette Week reported the crowd size as “tens of thousands” and that tracks. A lot of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young people excited to be skipping school to save the planet. A lot of chaperones trying to make sure that “everyone stays with their buddy.” The protest signs were bleak. A lot of variations on the theme of “the planet is dying”, which is, of course, an objective fact. Heavy stuff for kids to handle. Sure, I’m only 26, but at least I got to reach biological maturity before it was clear that our species is probably doomed.

Apocalyptic theme aside, the mood was upbeat. As I made my way through the crush of people on Madison St, I was reminded of the Women’s March in ’17 or the March for Our Lives in ’18–both events that I found extremely inspiring in theory and dreadfully boring in practice. Maybe that’s a symptom of being an angry young man. Without confrontation, you become extraneous.

The rain had cleared up and the sun was peeking through the clouds, but it still took trudging up a muddy hill to see the speakers in Terry Schrunk Plaza. The current speakers were representatives from islands in the Pacific who said they would not be victims of climate change; they would be warriors. The crowd cheered. Hell, I cheered too, but a wave of depression passed over me. Even if we keep global warming to 2 degrees, which we won’t, those islands will be uninhabitable. It was all too much. I felt sick. I could barely even hear the aging hippie lecturing me about smoking in a crowd. “Haven’t you heard? It’s the end of the fucking world,” I barked at him as I made my way back out into the street.

As I got back onto Madison, I noticed someone taking my picture. I recognized the guy. One of the self-proclaimed “Patriots” that circle any Portland protest like vultures. Each of them with a GoFundMe page ready to launch if they’re lucky enough to get punched in the face. It was a group of them: Christopher Ponte, David Willis, Reggie Axtell, Haley Adams. Brandon Farley wasn’t too far off, probably defending his honor against ‘Dick Slander’. Seeing this assortment of scum and villainy, I felt myself smiling for the first time. My existential angst was gone. Maybe I’m a scavenger too.

Armed with this intelligence, I scanned the crowds for anyone who might be interested. In the distance, I saw a flag I recognized. The black/green banner of the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front (PNW YLF). A group of them had been recruiting at a cryptofascist rally at Pioneer Square that Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer had put on the weekend before. Watching a contingent of the Portland Satanists argue with theocratic godheads over whether Lucifer was an antifascist was the highlight of the day. But the Youth Liberation Front had piqued my interest. They describe themselves “an autonomous network of youth and student collectives dedicated to the liberation of all people through any means necessary.” They don’t accept any members over the age of 25. Am I a little hurt that at 26, I’m no longer a youth? Sure. But they’re a capable, media-savvy bunch and I can’t deny I like their style. Queer punks in black bloc ready to take on the world. I wandered in their direction and caught the eye of one of their members.

“I just saw some fash taking pictures of folks in black bloc,” I told them. He ran off to tell some of his comrades and three of them came back over.

“Where?”

“How many?”

“How long ago?”

I answered them in quick succession and made it clear that it was just a handful of grifters. No buses full of Proud Boys like last month. Their posture relaxed and one of them offered me a blue and white bandana. Over the next few hours, I would periodically put it over my face but given my wild head of hair, distinctive frame and penchant for chain smoking, it was entirely ornamental. But it marked me as part of their tribe. Uniforms, even informal ones, have power. A week later, I’d interview 6 YLF members outside of a restaurant and they bragged they’d given away all 150 masks that they’d brought. Next time, it had been decided, they’d have to bring more. They weren’t in the business of missing recruitment opportunities.

“Bloc up!” someone shouted and the YLF made their way towards Madison. I knew the march route and they were heading it off. The bloc made it to the street. I didn’t see it firsthand, and accounts varied, but I believe this is when Haley Adams (one of the “Patriots”) was doused with water, finally putting to rest the persistent rumors that she was the Wicked Witch of the Pacific Northwest. At press time, Haley has reportedly received a vision from God instructing her make a pilgrimage, on foot, to Washington DC. I wish her well, though my personal belief is that a vision quest without hallucinogens is a vision quest not worth having. Having interacted with her on one or two occasions, she strikes me as a fan of deliriants. She possesses the disassociated, hostile demeanor of someone who ate too much jimson weed. The drug du jour of the local fash is cocaine, but I make no judgments. To each their own.

A ripple started to go through the larger crowd. The speeches were over, the main organizers were preparing for the march over Hawthorne Bridge. The slow corralling of the tens of thousands of people by the main organizers would take time. Large beasts are hard to The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and the Peace Team, civilians in hideous lime-green vests, were holding up the bloc at the intersection. Unsurprising conduct from the PPB, which has a long, well-documented history of far-right sympathies. The Peace Team is a different beast entirely. The contrast between them and the “Big Boys of the YLF” (their preferred nomenclature) was stark and seemed significant.

Peacekeepers were demanding that members of the YLF bloc take off their masks.

“Are you afraid to show your face?” They taunted.

“You’re going to scare the kids!” They warned.

I discussed this moment with Tom Hastings, Founding Director of Peacevoice and professor at PSU, at some length in the week after the Climate Strike. To say he is not a fan of black bloc tactics would be an understatement. I asked him why they were demanding that the YLF take off their masks. He sighed and said, “We only do that when we are asked by the organizers of a non-violent event to institute a behavior code.” When I asked him which event organizers had instituted a behavior code, he became very vague. Apparently, the organizer that had invited the Peace Team hadn’t attended the actual climate strike.

He displayed more candor when discussing antifascist youths. There was real anger in his voice when he related stories of being heckled by masked antifascists and made a point of mentioning that he had never had any problems with “Patriots” in the streets. It seemed personal. He mentioned the length of his arrest record and success as an antinuclear activist at least three times during a thirty-minute phone call. When I asked about the masks being necessary to prevent doxxing, he exploded, “You can quote me directly on this. Bullshit! If you aren’t willing to be identified, then what are you doing here? Own who you are…Why are you so afraid of being identified? We paid the price again and again; you have to be willing to do the same.”

I don’t doubt that Tom is sincere in his beliefs, and he might even be right about the effectiveness of non-violent protest. But his anger speaks to a larger phenomenon: The Boomer generation has a pathological inability to realize that they’ve become the Man that they used to rage against. For Christ’s sake, Tom even mentioned starting a “non-violent pilot program” with the swine of the PPB. They latch onto masks because when they were young, they didn’t wear masks. The Big Boys of the YLF burst into laughter when I told them about Tom’s point about masks. Vash (pseudonym) cracked a joke, “No shit. I’m guessing he grew up before the internet.”

Once the main crowd was ready to march to the Hawthorne Bridge, the police and Peace Team started moving towards Hawthorne Bridge. The YLF saw their moment, readied their banner, and split into two groups. Each took one side of the sidewalk and they managed to steal the march on the larger, liberal demonstration. A couple dozen non-affiliated antifascist activists flocked to their banner. The Patriots skulked after, still trying to provoke a confrontation, but I was assured by a nearby YLF member that, “We aren’t going to rise to the bait.”

“Except for the water thing, but that was just someone who got a little overexcited,” someone else chimed in. I was impressed. It had been a smart tactical decision, taking advantage of the mobility their smaller numbers provided. Now, Tom accused them of attempting to hijack the event, which is basically correct. Even the Big Boys eventually admitted that they’d been trying to pull the Climate Strike in a more radical direction. I can’t say that I disagree with that sentiment. The fucking Arctic burned this summer, which is an omen straight out of Revelations. The signs are there for anyone with eyes to see.

Vash and Eli (pseudonym), pointed out to me that the PNW YLF had been aggressively promoting the Climate Strike and had at one point been promised an opportunity to speak at the main rally only to be excluded the day of the event. I’ve been unable to confirm this with the organizers at this time, but they seemed genuinely disappointed. The only time Vash was anything but positive during the interview was when he said dejectedly, “I never even got to read the speech.” While we were crossing Hawthorne, the YLF believed that they’d be able to speak at the festival, though they’d be denied again.

The police let us pass onto the bridge, hoping to get some distance between the YLF and the main Climate Strike march. As we crossed over Hawthorne, the bloc started to spread out and when we’d almost reached the other side, a cop grabbed a guy behind me. I heard shouting that he’d spit on the officer and suddenly four of the bastards were pinning him down. Spider, an antifascist activist I interviewed after the event, was friends with the guy arrested. They said that when they finally got their knees off his back and pulled him up, his whole face was dripping with fluids. “I didn’t know a face could leak like that.” It’s odd the details people remember, isn’t it? He was also screaming that he couldn’t breathe. The PPB is now charging him with vandalism and I regrettably didn’t get footage of the inciting incident. Seems hard to prove you didn’t commit vandalism on a bridge that covered in stickers and graffiti, but I’m not a lawyer. I was, however, trying to be a “citizen” “journalist”, so I recorded his arrest.



I wanted to see how this would play out, so I stayed with Spider and a handful of the guy’s comrades for a moment. The main group had started filing by. Tens of thousands lined up to walk down the sidewalk. Unbeknownst to me, further up the bridge, agents of the state were scouring the crowd for POC to rough up. I posted a video of the arrest to Twitter. My gut twisted as I felt myself wonder whether it would get engagement. Spider was telling every kid that walked by, “The cops are not your friends, they serve the State” sounding uncannily like a school guidance counselor. I decided to get going and took a curving path to the waterfront. Some members of the YLF stayed on the waterfront path to wave at all the kids coming by. I noticed a few young boys grin as they looked at the high school kids in black. It’s easy for Boomers and Gen X to see antifa as villains, but kids love antiheroes.

The Big Boys I met with wanted to make very clear that “they probably spend half the time dancing any time they’re in the streets.” This is what I meant about media-savvy. Black Bloc-style antifascist activism is rare among anyone older than millennials. It happens, but it tends to be people that were generally social outliers. Among millennials, it’s still more or less a fringe political behavior, especially outside the PNW. The YLF wants to change that for the zoomers, and as any 60s Mad Man would tell you, “If you want to get someone hooked on your brand, you get ’em hooked in high school.

Once I finally arrived at the festival, I must admit that it felt like a letdown. This was not entirely the fault of the organizers. It had rained heavily earlier in the day, and the grass underneath them was well along in its transformation into mud. The moment of sunshine that had marked the beginning of the Climate Strike had faded, returning the sky to the dingy dishwater gray familiar to anyone who has spent time in this part of the country between September and May. Inside the festival, there were a lot of tents for different left-wing and climate focused organizations. Each set up to recruit the incoming high school students. Career day for the apocalypse.

I saw a group of 30 or 40 black bloc folks standing a little away from the stage they’d set up. I now realize that they had just been told they wouldn’t get the stage here either. “Give it up for the Occupellas,” some skinny guy in glasses said from the stage and a group of older women began to sing acapella. Now, I can’t be objective here. I hate acapella music. I’m sure the Occupellas are fine people who have done more for the world than I’ll ever manage, but on the day of the Global Climate Strike it felt like a perfect summation of everything wrong with the Left in this, the year of our Lord 2019. I wanted to throw a bottle, but I just lit another cigarette. Second pack, I really need to quit.

“We’re fucking doomed!” I said laughing like a maniac. The antifascists I directed it to laughed back, so I kept going. None of it is fit to print, but I want you to get a sense of the delirium that had begun to set in. A few minutes passed and a chant broke out:

“THE WRONG ICE IS MELTING

THE WRONG AMAZON IS BURNING”

This isn’t innovative. I’ve seen versions of this meme on Twitter a thousand times over. I include it here for a specific reason: because as far as I can tell, the chant set the agenda for the rest of the day. One thing that Eli, Vash, Enzo, Skylar, Lichan, Autumn, Spider, and JT (pseudonyms for the activists interviewed for this piece) can agree on is this: there was no plan to march to the ICE facility. It just sort of…happened.

The Big Boys offered the chant as a possible inciting incident. That makes sense. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a pack of like minded individuals in the same uniform, a war party, but it’s a powerful high. Nothing quite like it. Especially if you’re young, pissed and desperate. This is the problem with protesting abstractions. Fighting for the climate is miserable because you can’t face it head on. The Senate is ruled by a great and powerful tortoise at the head of a nihilistic death cult that cares as much about the future of the planet as they do about brown kids in cages. The official, state-sanctioned march couldn’t end in anything but a big festival, but the YLF hadn’t come to mingle. Their blood was up. Blue balls are powerful motivators. The chant offered a solution and suddenly, the call had gone out to bloc up.

Now, at the time, I had no idea where we were going, but wasn’t about to admit that. I’ve been to the ICE detention center before, but I’ve got a terrible sense of direction. Later on I pieced together the story. The original plan had been to take the MAX on Marquam Bridge, but after attaching their banner to the side of the bridge, the YLF had collectively decided that the MAX operators would probably call the PPB and let them know they were inbound. Chief Outlaw’s eyes were focused on the Climate Strike. The ‘piggies’ were all at market. When a chance falls in your lap like that, you don’t waste it to take the train.

50 black clad young radicals passed into downtown. The vibe was merry. A few YLF members walked around making sure everyone had water and the number for the National Lawyer’s Guild sharpied on their arms.

“Just tell them it’s your mom’s number,” someone joked, and the laughter was uproarious, hysterical. I felt myself tense up. That kind of laughter has preceded damn near every mistake I’ve made in my quarter century on this burning blue ball. This was no exception.

The journey was over in one long surreal moment. A mass text had brought in maybe a dozen stragglers. A hash pen was passed around. Everything got a little hazy. A black man pulled up in a red truck. He was pro-Trump and looking for a scrap. The YLF took pictures of him and his license plates and told him to fuck off. The sight of the mostly white YLF kids (accurately) calling a black man a fascist was a heady tableau. It belongs in a museum.

As we passed over a divider, I saw a few guys picking up rocks. My bad feeling intensified, but I was committed to see this through. The Big Boys hadn’t seen the rocks but didn’t dispute it when I told them I’d seen it firsthand. I don’t believe in Objective Journalism, but I do believe in accurate reporting.


  •     Rocks were present. So was a branch.
  •     The plan was undefined.
  •     The stage was set for a shit show.

We turned the corner onto SW Macadam Ave and there it was. The ICE building. The “fortress of chains” Spider called the place, and they would know. They spent months camped there during the #OccupyICEPDX demonstrations last summer. Very few people around, we marched right up the street. We passed a preschool located directly next to the facility. I wonder what their property values are. One of the little ones, a troublemaker no doubt, waved at me as we passed.

The building itself is an ugly place. An ugly place for ugly business. Hospital-waiting room white and surrounded with chain link fences laced with barbed wire. Concrete barricades at the entrance. A fitting local roost for America’s Gestapo. Now, according to the YLF, the plan was supposed to be to walk up to the three guards and finally give the speech they had ready. That’s not what happened. The ICE guards seemed shook. There only five of them with a few other employees standing behind. Some people I interviewed think the cops had warned them ahead of time and had seen a PPB van about a block back, but they couldn’t have gotten more than a few minutes notice. They hadn’t planned on 50 or so masked radicals beating down their door. At least not today.

I asked the YLF Big Boys whether they would have tried to occupy the ICE facility and they were unequivocal: No. They didn’t have the numbers to hold the place and weren’t interested in going to jail for nothing. But the guards didn’t know that. They had their rifles full of pepper bullets out and cans of mace at the ready. The bloc finally had a focal point for their confrontation. Everyone was shouting. The bloc and the DHS riot cops were maybe 20 ft apart. Chants of “Shut Down ICE!” had broken out. Tensions were running high. “No one was ready for what was about to happen,” Vash said. I wasn’t ready, but I knew something had to give, and it did. The next 54 seconds have been burned into my memory.

Now, I didn’t see the rock being thrown, but after watching videos and interviewing participants, I can confirm that it was. It didn’t hit any of the guards, but it damaged one of the vehicles. This is the picture Andy Ngo has been sharing, but I’ll get to that grifter later. The lone confirmed rock thrower was an 18-year-old barely a month into his freshman year in college. He confessed to damaging government property after a night spent shackled in the tender care of the PPB.

Quick PSA: Never say anything to law enforcement without a lawyer present.

There was also a branch thrown at one of the officers. The guards responded with brute force. Generally, it is protocol to fire above a crowd of protesters. Certainly, that would have sent us running. These guards were aiming right at us. Pepper bullets whizzed by me as I ran. The ICE guards zeroed in on one of the few Latinx members of the bloc, lighting him up with a spray of pepper bullets. Mace was deployed. Everything collapsed into chaos. Running. Screaming. If the guards had looked nervous before, they didn’t now. They routed the bloc with clinical efficiency. In the scrum, I got a bone bruise on my shin after I got knocked into a metal pole by a great bear of a young man in the bloc. It was my own damn fault; I’d been trying to take a video. I failed, but you can watch it here:

As we rounded the corner, people started to shout, “Stay together! Stay Tight!” The YLF managed to reform some of the bloc, maybe 30 people, but at least that many decided to get out while the getting was good. Given what happened next, their instincts were on point. The Latinx YLF member, who had earlier been riding around on his bike bearing the YLF banner, managed to get his bike around the corner before he collapsed, and his body started to go into seizures.

“He is writhing like a godhead in the throes of a Pentecostal revival,”
I wrote down in my notes at the time.
Maybe it seems glib to you now, it does to me, but gallows humor is a necessity to maintain sanity in insane times. Immediately, a bunch of his friends moved him to the sidewalk and made him as comfortable as they could manage. No one knew what was wrong. The members of the bloc with medical experience and his friends crowded around him. Suddenly, he went still. For a horrible moment, I was sure that he was dead. The call went out that he was just unconscious. Just unconscious. Cold comfort.


“Stop crowding him, guys!” someone shouted. An argument over when to call the ambulance was breaking out. Two old men who seemed like off-duty police started to harass some members of the bloc.

“Why do you cover your face?”

“You going to leave your buddy?”

“You know, they’re trying to do something productive on the other side of-“

This went on for minutes, slowly escalating in intensity. Faux concern transforming into gloating. Someone in the bloc pepper sprayed one of them. He was quickly stopped by his comrades. Enzo, one of the YLF members I interviewed afterwards, started shouting, “We do not mace civilians!” And just in time, a lone Boomer lady was heading up to the street screaming about cowards in masks and the black fash had rolled up again in his red van. These people don’t show up to the Proud Boy or Patriot Prayer demonstrations. They’re too respectable for that. But they share the “Patriots’” deep hatred of antifascists. Enzo yelled out again, “Anyone who isn’t helping, go to the park! Go to the park!” After a little hesitation, the bloc departed to Elizabeth Caruthers’s Park.

There were maybe 30 of us when we filed into the park. Spider, who isn’t affiliated with the YLF, was frustrated at people who were taking off their masks. They were right; the park was no doubt lousy with cameras. Someone was passing around a Ziploc bag full of pizza. Eli at the head of one faction wanted the bloc to return to ICE. They were opposed by a faction led by Skylar that wanted to get to the MAX and return to the main Climate Strike. And thus began, ‘The Great Debate’. A discourse familiar to anyone who has spent time in leftist activist circles.

“We’re never going to have a revolution if we run at the first sign of pepper bullets,” Eli insisted. Hard to argue with.

“All that’s going to happen if we go back, is we are going to get shot at and spend the night in jail,” Skylar shot back. Indisputably true. The argument went on for 30 or 40 minutes, interrupted briefly by Enzo asking if anyone spoke Spanish to talk to the parents of their semi-conscious comrade and then again by the arrival of the poor soul the National Lawyer’s Guild sent out, desperately trying to take notes from half a dozen witnesses. As the shock of the confrontation faded, the whole scene started to take on darkly comedic undertones. A parable on the limitations of leaderless resistance.

I turned to JT, one of the older antifascists that had gotten pulled in, and whispered, “Democrats in disarray.” He didn’t laugh, just shook his head sadly.

“They’re just kids. Brave kids, but this is stupid. We shouldn’t still be here.”

“Then why are you still here?”

“Because someone has to be.”

After several votes, the group agreed to split. Half were heading back to ICE and the rest were returning to the Climate Strike. For the record, Eli and Skylar were both present for my interview with the Big Boys a week later. Both said that they’d gotten too heated. Eli agreed that returning to ICE was an emotional reaction. Skylar came around to thinking we should have returned to ICE. Ships passing in the night.

When we split, I was standing in the middle, unsure where I should be. The ambulance had arrived and taken the unconscious YLF member away As I stood on the grassy knoll, I saw one police van.

Then two.

Then three.

Then the three cops barreled into the park, driving onto the grass. I saw one YLF member dive out of the way to avoid being hit. I don’t have video of the event, so I can’t confirm this, but at least one of those vans appeared to be the unmarked variety used by ICE. This would be unsurprising given recent reporting of an illegal training program between ICE and the PPB, but I make no formal allegations. The cops ran out of their vehicles onto the grass as the bloc ran. They had lost all sense of order in their hunger to punish these teenagers in masks. It was a police riot, very similar to the videos I’ve seen of the Boston PD during the Straight Pride Parade.

We ran and the predator-prey dynamic took over. I managed to get video as we fled the park. I saw multiple cops dropping clips of live ammo so they could load up with pepper bullets. They seemed to know who they were looking for but were willing to grab anyone that fell behind the herd. Batons were swung, mace was deployed.


A ragtag band of us regrouped and started moving north. In the corner of my eyes, I saw more PPB vans a street over. We’d given them time to tighten the noose. I was sure I was going to spend the rest of the day or two in jail. Then we got creative. It was JT’s idea. I got the feeling that it wasn’t the first time he’d had to lose the cops in this neighborhood. “Follow me,” he shouted. Underneath Portland’s expressways lies the Pits. A playground for the junkies and travelers of this fair city. There was a spot where we could climb up onto the side of the highway. Not too hard to scale, especially if the alternative is a weekend in the bowels of Multnomah County’s criminal justice system. Adrenaline can work wonders. A dozen or so of us scrambled out of the Pits into a small homeless encampment, just a few tents set up on the side of the highway. Just in time, Lichan (pseudonym) told me that he saw 6 vans pass by just as we made it onto the highway.

We all got out of bloc. I shoved my black hoodie and bandana into my bulletproof backpack and caught my breath. Knees on my legs, I saw the faces of the YLF members around me for the first time. I’d known they were young, but I hadn’t expected them to *seem* so young. Without masks, they just looked like a group of queer punks on their way to a show. These were the faces that the PPB had been shoving into the concrete and spraying with mace. Those goddamn bastards treated teenagers like enemy combatants, and they wonder why “All Cops Are Bastards” is taken as an article of faith by this set.

One of them, Lucy, mentioned that this was the first protest she’d ever been to. Her ride had been arrested during the mad rush in the park. The week after, I asked her if she regretted turning out. She was unequivocal: “No.” Instead, she’s been using her experience to radicalize her classmates. Such is the way of things.

When I met her for the interview, she told me she’d fractured a rib. Not at the protest–at the after-party the YLF threw the next night. By all accounts, a rager for the ages. The kind of party where no one can remember how many American flags were burned, the best estimate is 3. The only regret the YLF expressed is that a few bands had to cancel because their parents found out how they were planning on spending their Saturday night.

After we separated, I walked towards the waterfront with JT. He was on his way out of Portland, I was on his way in. I checked Twitter and found out that my video of the police riot had been quote tweeted by famous liar Andy Ngo. One of the YLF members I spoke with, Lichan, spotted him a block away wearing a medical mask. Yes, a mask! Ngo called me a propagandist while he conflated the rocks at the ICE facility with the events in Caruthers Park. Irony is dead. He got his baseless spin published in Newsweek because you can never go broke if you’re willing to shamelessly lie for the Powers That Be. My little video ended up being viewed 150,000 times. In the replies, you can see the American Right’s bottomless appetite for state violence. It is a strange thing to feel your personal experience become fodder in Twitter’s Forever War. I miss the fourth wall–the one separating the players on stage and the audience. If we were a half-way decent society, we’d give it a dignified funeral.

Just another day in Portland.

What did it all mean? For the people arrested, it means months in court and an uncertain future. For the rest of us? Eli told me that their friend has been dealing with PTSD since it was her first demonstration of any kind. It left me rattled and I’ve been around the block once or twice.

I mentioned the Straight Pride Parade in Boston, and I think that we are seeing a reaction building within law enforcement. They are tired of these purple-haired anarcho-punks calling them fascists. They’re ready to crack some heads in the name of Making America Safe Again. No worries. It’s not like we have a fascist POTUS facing prison time if his grip on power slips. But I’ll let the Youth Liberation Front have the final word. They never got to give that speech, so here’s their finale, presented without comment:

No one will bat an eye if we just idly stand by as forests burn and people starve. We must make ourselves impossible to ignore, and by masking up, we say to them: we will not cooperate. we will not be content with those who poison the earth, and its inhabitants. So mask up. Mask up and do what needs to be done. We know what we need to do to protect our community, and the world from destruction. We must throw off the shackles that tie us to these dying systems and build a new society free from the chains of capitalism, violence and authoritarianism. Join us for the revolution.” 


***
You can find Jordan Jackson at his Medium profile here and follow him on Twitter here.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

NEO-NAZI NETWORK “THE BASE” PLANS SPOKANE-AREA MILITARY TRAINING CAMP AND MEETUP

Members of 'The Base' posing with a flag with the group's logo. Photo courtesy of Eugene Antifa.

By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH

They translated “Al Qaeda” into English and called themselves “The Base.” They’re a network of neo-Nazis with a doomsday prepper streak. They have cells in South Africa, Canada, Australia, and of course, the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. And if you’re in the area of Spokane, Washington, as antifascist activists warned last week, you might be able to hear them “practice shooting high powered firearms.

According to Eugene Antifa, members of The Base are flying out some time this month to Spokane to train with weapons, “share survival skills & terrorist ideas, outline plans to establish their (whites-only) ethnostate, & grow their network.” They previously conducted a meetup somewhere in California on January 11th. They’re calling this gathering a “hate camp.” It’s not known exactly when they plan to be in the area.

Some local groups were initially planning to counter-protest the event, but Eugene Antifa, the antifascist collective that broke the news of the camp, clarified in a series of tweets less than a day after breaking the story that The Base’s activities would be covert and at some undisclosed location, not rallying in public.

Law enforcement from local police to the FBI told the Spokane Spokesman-Review they’re aware of The Base coming to town.

Officer John O’Brien told the Spokesman-Review that “some members of that group may be flying into the Spokane airport. The event is not being held in the city limits or the county of Spokane. It is not known how they will get from the airport to their venue. (If they show up.)”

FBI spokesperson Katherine Zackel told the Spokesman-Review they’re aware of the group’s activities.

“We work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to identify any possible threats of force or violence to our communities and to protect all individuals’ rights to First Amendment protected activity,” she said.

The Base’s leader, “Norman Spear,” is a neo-Nazi with a big following online. He claims to be an Iraq and Afghan War veteran. Eugene Antifa said that he “has recently purchased land in Central Washington near Chewelah or Colville.” Other members of the group have set about purchasing compounds to live off the grid and online chats talk about establishing ‘safehouses’ for the group. Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoreux, writing for Vice, said their goal is to “unify online fascists and link that vast coalition of individuals into a network training new soldiers for a so-called forthcoming “race war.””

A neo-Nazi network with similar beliefs and goals called Atomwaffen Division has planned acts of terror in the past–and attempted to carry them out. The group has five confirmed murders to its name, several foiled terror plots including bombings and mass shootings, and is not only still active, but spawning splinter groups. A man who was arrested Friday after plotting to target synagogues and LGBTQ+ night clubs for firebombing had been in contact with one such Atomwaffen splinter group online. As Atomwaffen faces its own internal upheavals, some former members have migrated to the group.

“Their membership now consists of numerous former Atomwaffen Division members, and their approach is even more aggressive and blatantly neo-Nazi in nature. Their membership has grown and spread to more locations,” a Eugene Antifa representative told LCRW.

Even former leadership of Atomwaffen are endorsing the group.

“I am not a member, but I fully support what [The Base] is out to accomplish,” Grayson Patrick Denton, a prominent former Atomwaffen member, wrote on Twitter in September last year. The Base’s official Twitter replied, “HELL YEAH! Thank you Comrade.” Both groups’ presence on Twitter have since been removed.

The Base are ‘balk-right,’ a branch of neo-Nazism focused on ‘balkanizing’ the United States, or splitting it up into smaller territories, then claiming one or many as a whites-only ‘ethnostates.’ The term ‘Balk-right’ was coined by Billy Roper of the Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group Shieldwall Network. Roper described the ‘balk-right’ philosophy on his blog:

“…the United States of America is headed for collapse and civil war, and that ethnostates, including at least one for [white nationalists], will rise in that vacuum. Balkanization, the breakup of a multiracial state into more homogeneous nations, is coming,” he wrote.

It’s unknown whether members of The Base have carried out any attacks yet.

LCRW reviewed chat logs from The Base which span from about October to November 2018. In those logs, such attacks are called “direct action.”

Norman Spear in one log says in the “current phase,” where The Base is networking and recruiting, such acts of terror “should be attributable to a specific org or group is if it's only intended for recruiting purposes.”

“Anything else should be non-attributable,” Spear continued. “The message should speak for itself.”

“Direct action” is a term lifted from environmental activism. In the original context it meant actions like people chaining themselves to trees and construction equipment to prevent pipelines from being built. ‘Direct action’ for The Base means attacking, be it targeting minorities for terror or infrastructure like bridges and power plants to destabilize the government.

The tactic can be traced back to The Turner Diaries, a novel written by white nationalist William Luther Pierce that helped inspire the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. In The Turner Diaries, a white nationalist terror organization wages guerilla warfare and blows up buildings and infrastructure, destabilizing the U.S. government until it caves and surrenders to the white nationalists. McVeigh targeted a federal building in Oklahoma City hoping to spark a similar chain of events to those Pierce outlined in the book.

But for The Base, “direct action” isn’t just limited to waging war against the U.S. Government. It’s also about targeting minorities, particularly black and Jewish people. Here they are talking about Robert Bowers, the murderer of eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh:

“[If] 10 more people snapped like Bowers, it'd cause utter chaos. 100, now things would get interesting,” one person in their chat logs posted.

“Yeah that why follow up ops are important to build & keep momentum,” Norman Spear replied.

Spear’s comments reflect neo-Nazi ideologue James Mason’s thesis in Seige, his 1980s magazine-turned-bible for white nationalist terrorists.

“Mason insists that only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism,” the SPLC writes. Seige is required reading for Atomwaffen members.

Mason’s idea was that people should carry out attacks in small groups or alone that create a spectacle and inspire others to carry out similar such attacks. This chain of increasing attacks and destabilization, Mason said, would until they become so frequent and the public becomes so terrorized that it weakens the state and more organized guerilla warfare can topple it.

This has been playing out in real life. Online forums like 4chan and 8chan have received manifestos, declarations and in at least two cases even a link to a livestreamed video from mass murderers intent on sparking a white supremacist revolution. For example, both the Poway and El Paso murderers, who targeted Jewish people and immigrants from Latin America respectively, were inspired by the killer in Christchurch, who murdered 51 people praying at two mosques.

The Base choosing the State of Washington for their activities shouldn’t come as a surprise. The region has a long history of white supremacist activity. One plan popularized all the way back in the 1970s called the “Northwest Territorial Imperative” would have white supremacists carve out Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah as a whites-only ethnostate.

“Washington,” a Eugene Antifa representative told LCRW, “is once again a current hotspot for the white ethnostate dream.”

“The most urgent thing to know about the Base right now,” the Eugene Antifa representative said, “is that they are absolutely still organizing, but in a largely more underground way.”

Friday, June 21, 2019

ANTI-LGBTQ+ GROUPS TARGET LIBRARIES IN SEATTLE METROPOLITAN AREA

Patriots of Washington's event to support Mass Resistance's protest of a Drag Queen Story Time event in Renton, WA.


A "Teen Pride" event tomorrow at a public library in Renton, WA is being targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ activists. More demonstrations against a library in the same system are planned for next week.

Elizabeth Johnston, a far-right Christian media personality who brands herself as “The Activist Mommy,” went on a transphobic rant about the event Thursday on her Facebook, calling on her 600,000 plus followers to bombard the Renton’s library with phone calls demanding they cancel the event. At around 2pm PST on Thursday, Johnston said the phone lines were “jammed” and told her followers to start emailing the library’s board of trustees instead.

Antifascists at Emerald City Antifa shared a message from a Renton library employee who’d received calls yesterday.

“I can tell you that we’re experiencing a barrage of hateful phone calls,” the library employee said, adding “It’s been very stressful for me as a queer person.”

Johnston’s post included talking points from SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group Mass Resistance. Arthur Schaper, one of the group’s leaders based out of Southern California, recently gained attention for disrupting “Drag Queen Story Time” events at libraries around the country, claiming they were part of a long-running anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory that says LGBTQ+ members are trying to indoctrinate and molest young people. A Houston far-right radio host was arrested after he brought a gun into a library in February this year, claiming “We have a bunch of homosexuals who are molesting children.” He had previously harassed the library because of the Drag Queen Story Time events Mass Resistance was whipping up controversy over.

In response to possible demonstrations against the Teen Pride event, Plateupians for Peace, a local activist group, is organizing a support demonstration to shield young attendees of the LGBTQ+ youth event from bigoted protestors.

“We need your help showing support against these protestors and creating a safe environment for our LGBTQ+ teens to attend this event. We need people there from 12:30-1:30 and from 6:30-7:30, when kiddos [are] arriving and leaving,” the description for the event reads.

At around 2PM today, Johnston reposted the call to action, telling people to keep bombarding the Library’s phones.

But this isn’t the last Renton’s library system will hear from anti-LGBTQ+ activists this month. Next week on the 27th, Mass Resistance and Patriots of Washington, a group that includes Zachary Staggs and other members of the Proud Boys, will protest a Drag Queen Story Time event there.

Emerald City Antifa activists are organizing counter-efforts to the demonstration, including offering support and resources to the Drag Queens performing that day.

The library employee who messaged Emerald City Antifa said that “[p]eaceful counterprotestors would be welcome.”

The Puget Sound Anarchists collective also put out a call to action to defend the Seattle Trans Pride Parade on the weekend of the 28th this month. The Proud Boys and an affiliated far-right livestreaming group called Operation Cold Front are expected to show up.

These protests come amidst escalating demonstrations and violence against LGBTQ+ people during this year’s Pride Month.

Locally, an art display by Renton’s United Christian Church was vandalized and then bombed. The display was a series of rainbow-painted doors bearing the message “God’s doors are open to all.” The FBI is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. The church is planning a prayer vigil in response tonight at 6:30pm.

In Seattle earlier this month, an AIDS memorial installation was torn down.

On Monday, there was a demonstration against a Drag Queen Story Time event on Des Moines, Washington.

As LCRW previously reported, a trans activist was cited with a hate crime by California Highway Patrol after he confronted a hate preacher at the Capitol Building during Sacramento Pride weekend. During that confrontation, he was threatened by an attendee with a knife.

Other high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ incidents dominated the news cycle this month across the country. The National Socialist Movement, a direct descendant of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party, disrupted Detriot’s Motor City Pride Parade earlier this month, flying flags with swastikas. They had full protection from police officers, who were wearing rainbow flag badges. 

Additionally, Right-wing provocateur Steven Crowder intensified his years-long homophobic harassment campaign against journalist Carlos Maza, emboldened by Youtube’s failure to address the situation. 

One of the most viral stories has to do with Resist Marxism’s plans for a “Straight Pride Parade.” Resist Marxism is a Boston-based neo-Nazi-adjacent protest group founded by Kyle Chapman, the far-right e-celebrity famously nicknamed “Based Stickman” after he broke a closet pole over an antifascist brawler’s head during a riot in Berkeley. The “Straight Pride” event is set to go forward August 31st.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TRANS ACTIVIST CITED BY POLICE FOR HATE CRIME FOR PROTESTING ANTI-LGBTQ+ GROUP




By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH

This is an updated version of a story that ran yesterday. It includes an interview with the activist at the center of the incident and information from police documents.

“The pride festival was over, and initially we were just trying to walk from it to other local festivities. We hear the religious protesters,” Marcello recounts, “So Angie asks me if I'm uncomfortable hearing them and if we should leave or do something.”

“I stand up and I'm thinking I'm not really bothered,” he continues, “but they shouldn't be allowed to be doing that.”

In his friend Angie’s video, Marcello, a queer activist in a tie-dye shirt, holds a trans pride flag and dances around in front of a bearded street preacher with a red tie and a suit vest.

“It all seemed very innocent to me. I wasn’t thinking it'd escalate. At one point there were other queer people joining me and dancing onstage even,” Marcello says.

“Repent! God will judge you if you do not repent and you will end up in hell! We love you but God is just!” the preacher booms through a PA system.

“It wasn't until the guy took my flag when things started to be more confrontational,” Marcello says.

Anti-LGBTQ+ protesters push Marcello. A man with a mustache, white shirt and blue baseball cap shouts in Marcello’s face. He grabs Marcello’s flag and balls it up in his hands.

“May God have mercy on America! May God have mercy on this land! May God have mercy on Sacramento,” the preacher continues behind them.

“Give him his flag back,” Angie shouts at the man in the blue hat as she continues to film. The man shoves Marcello, who tries to snatch the flag back. The man pitches the balled-up flag on the ground about fifteen feet away. Marcello goes to pick it up.

“Fuck you! Old ugly-ass toothless-ass man!” Angie shouts at him before the video cuts out.

The video, posted to Twitter on Saturday at 8:22PM, has over 10,000 views as of this writing.

“After that I admit my memory is a bit hazy,” Marcello says. He was in shock after the event. For more on how memory of traumatic events works, see this NPR article. “

I had so many things going on at once, and people screaming at me, and Angie was telling me the guy pulled a switchblade on me,” he recounts.

“Right after the video cuts he pulled out a knife on us,” Angie said in the description of the video on Twitter. “He only backs away when I start yelling out “He has a knife!” repeatedly,” she told LCRW.

Angie said none of the others with the anti-LGBTQ+ group did anything about him.

“I was shocked and after I picked my flag up, I felt it even more so my duty to be there and wave it around proudly than before,” Marcello says.

“Then the man with the blue shirt comes up and his friend a little after,” she recounted. Angie provided a second video to LCRW showing a confrontation between several men and Marcello and herself.

Angie’s second video starts with a man with a buzzcut and blue t-shirt yelling at Marcello. Marcello says this man was “in my face screaming at me to get out of his.”

“This whole time I never approached these people, they would come up to me. All I was doing was waving my flag and defending myself,” Marcello told LCRW.

Someone tries to grab Angie’s phone. Video is shaky. There seems to be a scuffle.

“I can have my phone out!” she says. Two other men push the man with the buzzcut and Marcello away from each other and get in between them.

“After the guy pushed me away from his friend with the buzz cut was the only time I put my hands on someone, I was obviously angry that I was the one being gained up on,” Marcello said.

“This guy tried to take my phone!” Angie shouts. The video ends with the camera flipped around on her face.

“Next thing I know the guy in the video with the buzz cut was threatening me,” Marcello says.

“I remember him saying "this is America so I have a right to say whatever it is I want, I have a right to be here (as in the capital grounds) and I was saying back to him "Well, don't come here to our event, (pointing at the Pride Festival) and say disrespectful things to my community,” Marcello recounts. “And he then started saying "that's not okay, what you're doing is not okay. If this was Russia things would be different"”

LGBTQ+ people face widespread persecution in Russia, often with state permission.

“He was also saying things like "come to Russia then. Come to Russia and see what happens," Marcello recounts. He says he took the man’s statements, as well as “his gestures and tone as a threat.”

Angie says the man with the buzz cut told Marcello “if we were in Russia, he would kill him.” She said that “this man and two others got in my friend’s face and even shoved him at one point.”

“Since things were getting violent, we tried to leave the area. And that’s when we were stopped by Sac PD,” Angie recounted.

“I was very shocked because I didn't understand what I had done wrong, I was already flustered and feeling defensive,” Marcello says.

Angie said an officer stopped Marcello and herself and demanded identification. They asked to leave and the officer said no. They asked if they were being detained. The officer said yes. He wouldn’t tell them what crime they were being stopped for.

“I keep repeating that there is a man still at the steps of the Capitol who has a knife but he doesn’t seem to care. He ignored me and keeps asking my friend why he was pushing people,” Angie recounted.

“The cop that approached me was being unempathetic towards my side of the story the entire time,” Marcello recounts. “He was asking me why I was pushing people, was asking me why I approached them.”

“I felt really attacked, I felt like I was being framed. I felt like he was trying to guilt me into admitting I did something wrong,” Marcello says.

Eventually, Marcello says, “the officer told me that I was under suspicion of assault, and told me they were reviewing tapes.”

Marcello and Angie both say he only pushed one person in self-defense. Angie’s video shows one instance of a man wearing glasses being shoved. This man stepped in between Marcello and the man with the buzzcut. It isn’t clear if Angie, Marcello or someone else was shoving him. While video shows Marcello made gestures with his hands while shouting, it’s clear in the video LCRW reviewed that, for the most part, he wasn’t trying to touch the anti-LGBTQ+ activists. The only other time he makes a motion towards one of them on camera is when he’s trying to get his flag back.

They were separated for questioning after fifteen minutes of being detained, Angie recounts.

“At one point [the officer] was even answering my questions and statements with "oh really? Okay cool" sarcastically, being overall very unprofessional and disrespectful. I decided it was best to just stop speaking all together to him,” Marcello says. “I felt like the police were not there for me, they didn't take my allegation against these homophobic and actually violent people seriously.”

Marcello also said he was misgendered and repeatedly deadnamed by the police, despite changing the gender marker on his ID at the start of the year. Deadnaming is refusing to use a person’s chosen name and instead using the name assigned to them at birth. ProPublica found in 2018 that in 74 of 85 cases they studied of trans people being murdered, police used the victim’s deadname. Activists ProPublica interviewed said it was incredibly difficult to get government agencies to acknowledge trans peoples’ chosen names.

“Five or so cops were surrounding me at one point,” Marcello recounts, continuing, “they could've been trying to find the actual perpetrators instead of standing there chatting it up with each other, waiting for some footage, only to find out I never actually put my hands on anyone.”

Marcello eventually gave his statement to a female officer who he says treated him with more empathy.

“They gave me a ticket with my possible charges and said that for future reference, I shouldn't be the one going and instigating things by waving my flag in peoples faces,” Marcello says.

Officers cite Marcello for three misdemeanors: demonstrating without a permit, battery, and a hate crime. He’s set to appear in court in August.

Meanwhile, Angie also had little success getting the officers to take her side of the story seriously. An officer asks her to point out the man who threatened them, but she says by that point he'd left. “I tell [the officer] I have a picture but he just asks for a description which he repeats back to me wrong, so I show him a photo,” Angie recounts.

An hour and 40 minutes pass while they’re detained, Angie says. Then, four other officers speak to them separately and dismiss them. Angie sends her footage to one of the officers.

“They told us it was the church that called the police on us for being aggressive and that we aren’t allowed to be that close to counter protests,” Angie said, adding that police told her “that we should have been on the sidewalk and that we were in the wrong.”

LCRW is filing a PRA for information about the incident and will update the story when we receive new information.

Neither the man who drew a knife nor the has not yet been identified. LCRW has not yet identified the anti-LGBTQ+ group at the Capitol Building.

“Literally all the people who were threatening and even shoving my friend got away because they [the police] were too busy trying to prove/get my friend to confess he was the aggressor,” Angie wrote on Twitter.

“I just feel wronged. Like I was the wrong person to call the cops on. The homophobic protesters should've called the police on their own supporters instead of me. They were the ones being aggressive and violent,” Marcello says.

“This was supposed to be a day where I can be authentically me, and I was harassed and wrongfully detained for celebrating myself,” Marcello said. “And to end all that with being charged for possible hate crime, and assault charges? It just seem extremely unfair and unjust. I feel failed by the law.”

Pride Month was marked this year by high-profile provocations against LGBTQ+ people by right-wing extremists. The National Socialist Movement, a direct descendent of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party, disrupted Detriot’s Motor City Pride Parade last weekend, flying flags with swastikas. They had full protection from police officers wearing rainbow flag badges. Right-wing provocateur Steven Crowder is currently intensifying his years-long homophobic harassment campaign against journalist Carlos Maza, emboldened by Youtube’s failure to address the situation. One of the most viral stories has to do with Resist Marxism’s plans for a “Straight Pride Parade.” Resist Marxism is a Boston-based neo-Nazi-adjacent protest group founded by Kyle Chapman, the far-right e-celebrity famously nicknamed “Based Stickman” after he broke a closet pole over an antifascist brawler’s head during a riot in Berkeley. The “Straight Pride” event is set to go forward August 31st.

The incident over the weekend hearkens back to the rally held by neo-Nazis from the Traditionalist Workers’ Party and the Golden State Skinheads in 2016. Neo-Nazis stabbed several antifascists counter-protesting that ensuing brawl. Police then chose to go after the antifascists instead of the neo-Nazis.

LCRW is seeking other witnesses’ accounts and any additional information about this case and will update this story with new information as it comes in. Please email leftcoastrightwatch@protonmail.com if you have any tips.

Monday, June 10, 2019

ANTI-LGBTQ+ DEMONSTRATORS SHOVE, THREATEN QUEER ACTIVISTS AT CALIFORNIA STATE CAPITOL DURING PRIDE WEEKEND


 By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH



In Angie’s video, her friend Marcello, a queer activist in a tie-dye shirt, holds a trans pride flag and dances around in front of a bearded street preacher with a red tie and a suit vest. Angie said that she and Marcello and went to confront them outside of the Capitol Building and that other activists joined in to counter-protest.



“Repent! God will judge you if you do not repent and you will end up in hell! We love you but God is just!” the preacher booms through a PA system.



Anti-LGBTQ+ protesters push Marcello. A man with a mustache, white shirt and blue baseball cap shouts in Marcello’s face. He grabs Marcello’s flag and balls it up in his hands.



“May God have mercy on America! May God have mercy on this land! May God have mercy on Sacramento,” the preacher continues behind them.



“Give him his flag back,” Angie shouts at the man in the blue hat as she continues to film. The man shoves Marcello, who tries to snatch the flag back. The man pitches the balled-up flag on the ground about fifteen feet away. Marcello goes to pick it up.



“Fuck you! Old ugly-ass toothless-ass man!” Angie shouts at him before the video cuts out.



The video, posted to Twitter on Saturday at 8:22PM, has over 10,000 views as of this writing.



“Right after the video cuts he pulled out a knife on us,” Angie said in the description of the video on Twitter.



“He only backs away when I start yelling out “he has a knife!” repeatedly,” Angie told LCRW. She said none of the others with the anti-LGBTQ+ group did anything about him.



Angie says one of the men told Marcello “if we were in Russia, he would kill him.” She said that “this man and two others got in my friends face and even shoved him at one point.” LGBTQ+ people face widespread persecution in Russia, often with state permission.



“Then the man with the blue shirt comes up and his friend a little after,” she recounted, providing a second video to LCRW.



Angie’s second video starts with a man with a buzzcut and blue t-shirt yelling at Marcello. Someone tries to grab Angie’s phone. Video is shaky. There seems to be a scuffle.



“I can have my phone out!” she says. Two other men push the man with the buzzcut and Marcello away from each other and get in between them.



“This guy tried to take my phone!” Angie shouts. The video ends with the camera flipped around on her face.



“Since things were getting violent, we tried to leave the area. And that’s when we were stopped by Sac PD,” Angie recounted.



She said an officer stopped Marcello and herself and demanded identification. They asked to leave and the officer said no. They asked if they were being detained. The officer said yes. He wouldn’t tell them what crime they were being stopped for.



“I keep repeating that there is a man still at the steps of the Capitol who has a knife but he doesn’t seem to care. He ignored me and keeps asking my friend why he was pushing people,” Angie recounted.



She said Marcello only pushed one person in self-defense. Video shows one instance of a man wearing glasses being shoved. This man stepped in between Marcello and the man with the buzz cut. It isn’t clear if Angie, Marcello or someone else was shoving him. While video shows Marcello made gestures with his hands while shouting, it’s clear for the most part he wasn’t trying to touch the anti-LGBTQ+ activists. The only other time he makes a motion towards one of them on camera is when he’s trying to get his flag back.



“I keep trying to bring to his attention that there was a man with a knife and a man that gave Marcello death threats and that I had both their faces on video,” Angie recounts, “but he seems more preoccupied in trying to get Marcello to say he was pushing people.”



They were separated for questioning after fifteen minutes of being detained, Angie recounts. An officer asks her to point out the man who threatened them, but she says by that point he'd left.



“I tell [the officer] I have a picture but he just asks for a description which he repeats back to me wrong, so I show him a photo,” Angie recounts.



An hour and 40 minutes pass while they’re detained, Angie says. Then, four other officers speak to them separately and dismiss them. Angie sends her footage to one of the officers.



“They told us it was the church that called the police on us for being aggressive and that we aren’t allowed to be that close to counter protests,” Angie said, adding that police told her “that we should have been on the sidewalk and that we were in the wrong.”



Marcello was apparently cited. LCRW is filing for a copy of the police report for the incident.



The man who drew a knife has not yet been identified. LCRW has not yet identified the anti-LGBTQ+ group at the Capitol Building.



“Literally all the people who were threatening and even shoving my friend got away because they were too busy trying to prove/get my friend to confess he was the aggressor,” Angie wrote on Twitter.




Pride Month was marked this year by high-profile provocations against LGBTQ+ people by right-wing extremists. The National Socialist Movement, a direct descendent of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party, disrupted Detriot’s Motor City Pride Parade last weekend, flying flags with swastikas. They had full protection from police officers wearing rainbow flag badges. Right-wing provocateur Steven Crowder is currently intensifying his years-long homophobic harassment campaign against journalist Carlos Maza, emboldened by Youtube’s failure to address the situation. One of the most viral stories has to do with Resist Marxism’s plans for a “Straight Pride Parade.” Resist Marxism is a Boston-based neo-Nazi-adjacent protest group founded by Kyle Chapman, the far-right e-celebrity famously nicknamed “Based Stickman” after he broke a closet pole over an antifascist brawler’s head during a riot in Berkeley. The event is set to go forward August 31st.



The incident over the weekend hearkens back to the rally held by neo-Nazis from the Traditionalist Workers’ Party and the Golden State Skinheads in 2016. Neo-Nazis stabbed several antifascists counter-protesting that ensuing brawl. Police then chose to go after the antifascists instead of the neo-Nazis.



LCRW is seeking other witnesses’ accounts and any additional information about this case and will update this story with new information as it comes in. Please email leftcoastrightwatch@protonmail.com if you have any tips.

Field Notes: Hog Wild with the PNW Youth Liberation Front

BY JORDAN JACKSON|SPECIAL TO LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH EDITOR'S NOTE: I met Jordan on August 17th this year at Cider Riot. It was the...