“Cancel culture is out of control!” the right wing pundits shriek. “Hasbro is making a gender-neutral potato toy! We can’t buy the more-racist Dr. Seuss books for our children anymore! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???”
Nothing outrages a bigot more than people demanding that they treat the people they believe to be their inferiors with basic respect and common courtesy. Whether it’s Jordan Peterson decrying the violation of his sacred free speech rights by trans students who wanted him to do the bare minimum of politeness by refering to them by the pronouns that conform to their identity; to the decision by major league baseball to move their All-Star game to a state that doesn’t try to suppress the votes of black people – nothing gets far-right bigots and extremists more apoplectic than their bigotry being “cancelled” when people call them out on it.
This is, of course, just the latest rebranding of a tired old trope in far-right circles. For historical reference:
But something the far-right doesn’t like you to think about is that they have their own form of “cancel culture.”
One of the difficulties of running a defence fund for anti-fascists is deciding what does or does not constitute anti-fascist action or, when an anti-fascist runs into trouble, if it was their anti-fascism that put them in that trouble. This is something The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has wrestled with, on a case-by-case basis, over the last few years. Earlier this month, they were called again to do so when presented with a request to send some support to Cory Elia, a freelance journalist in Oregon.
Perhaps you see the dilemma here for the Defence Fund’s Decisions Crew – if a journalist is attending a protest that is in many ways anti-fascist in nature, are they acting as an anti-fascist, as a journalist, or as both? This question led to an extensive discussion, which did not lead to a consensus among Decisions Crew members on the answer. After a vote, a majority of Decisions Crew members decided that in Elia’s case he was not acting as an anti-fascist at the time of the incident and therefore the request to support him fell outside of the Defence Fund’s mandate, which is to support anti-fascists in times of trouble that arises from their work as anti-fascists.
The hundreds of Decisions Crew members would probably reach consensus very quickly on supporting all people harmed by fascism and bigotry if the Defence Fund had an infinite pool of money and resources to draw from. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case and so we are careful to ensure that our support matches up with our mandate; in this case that match was not as clear-cut as a majority of Decisions Crew members needed it to be.
We know by now that fascists will do just about anything to further their agenda of bigotry and genocide, including (and we hope you’re sitting down for this one) lying to police in order to get anti-fascists arrested!
Such was the case for our man James in Portland. This past November, after fascist goons threatened to shoot up a Black Lives Matter event, James attended to defend people from attack. For his efforts, James got a short stay in the hospital after a far-right person bit him (!) + charges against him when four of the bad guys made up a story about him threatening them.
The good news: he beat the charges and was exonerated. The bad news: the fascists tracked him to his home and began an intense campaign of harassment and death threats. They vandalized his truck multiple times, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Things got so bad he was forced to break his lease and re-locate elsewhere, which cost him more moeny. Add all this to his hospital bill + legal costs to beat his case = James needed some support.
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was well-pleased to make a contribution to James that took care of a significant chunk of these costs. James was evidently also pleased, telling us, “That’s incredible. You guys just saved my arse in the biggest way imaginable.”
In 2007, Jock Palfreeman was an Australian national backpacking through Europe. In Sofia, Jock witnessed a gang of nazi hooligans attacking two Roma boys and stepped in to defend the two. Jock was quickly forced to defend himself and survived the attack, but one of the nazis did not and Jock was charged with his murder. In the sham trial that followed (where the state witheld video evidence that would have proven his claims of self-defence and exonerated him., Jock was wrongly convicted of the crime and sentenced 20 years in jail.
While unjustly imprisoned, Jock continued to maintain his innocence. He also learned Bulgarian and founded the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Assocation, the country’s first human rights advocacy for prisoners.
In 2019, Jock was suddenly released from prison after serving 12 years. The Bulgarian authorities seized his passport and refused to let him leave the country, then subjected him to a court appeal of his release. Jock beat that unconstitutional attempt to re-convict him on charges the evidence shows he was innocent of.
Not content to admit defeat, the Bulgarian authorities are now trying to expel and ban him from not just Bulgaria, but the EU altogether, based on Jock’s 2009 sham murder conviction. Once again, Jock is forced to defend himself – this time in an EU court. We stood with Jock while he served his prison sentence; we helped him get back on his feet when he was released; and now the Defence Fund is helping him hire the best legal defence team available to fight the expulsion attempt.
If there’s one things fascists like, it’s controlling and dominating women. Misogyny has always been a key component of fascism. So it comes as no surprise to hear that members of the Germany’s fascist AfD party joined religious zealots in a 2019 Berlin march against the right of women to control their own bodies. Likewise, it comes as no surprise that hundreds of anti-fascists and feminists took to the streets to shut them the fuck down, which they accomplished handily!
Finally & if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll also not be surprised that the Berlin police sided with the fascists and laid charges against 100 of the feminist counter-demonstrators. Those 100 people – who stopped neo-nazis from marching in Berlin – have had charges hanging over their heads for nearly two years now.
They’ve set up a crowdfunder to raise money for their legal defence against these charges and the Defence Fund was very happy to help them reach their fundraising goal!
Show us an anti-choice religious extremist and we’ll show you a fascist close by. Show us some fascists and we’ll be able to point you to bigots hiding behind their god(s) to justify their misogyny right there, too. Show us feminists standing up against misogyny and patriarchy and we’ll show you antifascists standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them. To be an anti-fascist = to be a feminist. To be a feminist = to be an anti-fascist.
A lot has happened after the attempted insurrection in Washington, DC on January 6th to show exactly who the legal system is concerned with and who they’re not concerned with.
NOT CONCERNED WITH: people who attempted to stop the verification of the 2020 election vote and overthrow the government by storming the capitol, forcing elected officials to flee for their lives. People like Adam Johnson, pistol packin’ Christopher Alberts, Joshua Pruitt, or would-be vacationer Jenny Louise Cudd – all of whom have been charged for the events of January 6th – have since been released on bail. The message is clear: a murderous right-wing mob can try to overthrow the government, beating a cop to death in the process, and they’ll be back out on the streets pending trial.
Then there’s our man Dan Baker, who the FBI picked up and charged after he expressed concerns for a repeat of the January 6 attacks happening at the Florida state capitol. Dan is a former Airborne soldier and former volunteer with the YPG in Rojava, where he fought Daesh/ISIS alongside US forces. He’s also a street medic who was one of the first on the scene to treat people injured in shootings in Seattle this summer. He’s done outreach and support work for homeless people around the country. He put himself in harm’s way to stop the fascists in Daesh from murdering people. If anyone deserves our accolades and support, it’s Dan. Yet, thanks to an FBI attempt to railroad an anti-fascist, Dan currently sits in jail, WITHOUT BAIL BEING GRANTED, waiting on his trial date.
This is why the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund sent Dan’s supporters funds to help make sure he’s taken care of and has a place to return to when he beats the charges. We think you should do the same by sending some help via Venmo/Paypal @echampagneart or Cashapp $echampagneart. No money to donate but you have a printer? Download this flyer about Dan and get it out there!
Leipzig, Germany has a neo-nazi problem. The International Violent Hate Crimes Research Project documented enough violent attacks by neo-nazis and the far right in that small city in 2020 to mark it as one of worst cities in Europe for right wing extremist violence. Obviously, this is a grave public safety emergency that most people would think the police would devote themselves to tackling.
Instead, what do the police do? They launch a series of raids of people’s homes and round up a group of anti-fascists – the very people who are actually defending the people of Leipzig from this wave of fascist violence! It’s almost as if the police are on the side of the fascists or something! (If you’ve been reading this blog or following the Defence Fund for any length of time, we’re certain that you are shocked – SHOCKED! – at such an allegation.)
Now the LKA police have dreamed up an imaginary elite antifa terror squad that have been allegedly roaming Leipzig and attacking innocent right wing extremists. The kkkops pinning this mythical scheme on a 25-year-old woman as the “ringleader/puppet master.” Now Lina finds herself having to fight for her very freedom as the state attempts to lock her up because she opposes fascism.
One thing we’ve seen time and time again at protests in 2020 is how appreciated and respected volunteer street medics are to the protestors they’re caring for and on, several occasions, saving the lives of. Another thing we’ve seen time and time again at protests in 2020 is how much cops hate volunteer street medics and how often they’ll single them out for violence and abuse. It’s so bad, in fact, that Human Rights Watch has written a report about U.S. police attacking volunteer street medics, often while they’re in the middle of performing life-saving first aid.
We don’t know if that’s what happened when W. – a familiar sight at various protests in the Pacific North West as a volunteer street medic – was hit in the head with a flashbang grenade in Olympia earlier this month. But we do know who is likely to bring flashbangs to a protest and we do know who likes to try to take off people’s heads with them. We also know that this particular flashbang did some serious damage to W., leaving him with burns on his head and a completely obliterated eardrum.
W. now needs to raise several thousand dollars for reconstructive ear surgery to restore his hearing. We were not about to let him have to scrape the funds together on his own so The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was happy to show our gratitude to street medics like him by making a significant donation to his crowdfunder. Our friend literally volunteers his time and skill set by putting himself in the line of fire to save people who have been badly hurt – we all need to show W. and street medics like him that we have their backs when things go the other way for them.
It should then come as no surprise that those fighting for racial justice by in the streets take threats they receive very seriously. So when people made threats to shoot up and drive cars through a Black Lives Matter protest in Colorado Springs, Co. in August, some BLM protestors came armed.
So you can imagine Sherrie’s surprise a month later when, after attending the protest and making sure everyone was safe, she was sitting at home with her three kids only to have a SWAT team storm her home, hold her children at gunpoint, and take her away in handcuffs, charging her with “riot” and weapons offences that she is plainly innocent of.
Being an antifascist can be scary at times. We literally put ourselves in harm’s way when confronting fascists & their kkkop pals. Every time we go out in the streets, we hope that nothing terrible happens to us or to our comrades.
Happily, David has done his time and is being released from prison this week! However, he’s coming home to a world dramatically transformed by COVID-19, which, when added to the barriers of being a paroled felon, are going to make it super-challenging for him to get back on his feet.