This past summer proved to be the busiest three months for the Defence Fund since its inception. In June & July alone we received requests to help eighteen different anti-fascists/anti-racists in Belarus, Poland, and the U.S. and donated over $1000 to them – the most ever donated by the Defence Fund in one quarter. You can read about all of them on our blog.
Aside from the bad news of more people than ever before needing help, there was two bits of good news, though! Firstly, and thanks largely to our decision to print & sell anti-fascist/anti-racist stickers as a fundraiser, we raised more money for the Defence Fund this quarter than ever before. Unfortunately, it was still a bit less than what we gave out in support of anti-fascists/anti-racists in the same time period, but was still very encouraging. We hope that soon we are able to raise enough money to cover the amount of money we’ve given out in support, with maybe a little bit saved up for the next call for help we get (you can help us get there!).
The other good news is about what happened from mid-July to the end of August: not terribly much. After mid-July we did not receive any requests for support until the tail-end of August, which is probably the longest period of time we’ve gone without getting a request since the Defence Fund was established.
Since most of our requests happen as a result of opposition to racist events, this drop in requests for help may be coinciding with a decline in public activity by racists. It did seem that there were fewer racist rallies and marches going on in the last half of the summer. If that is true, it could be because bigots are now focusing their efforts on political gains they’re making through the electoral system (e.g. Brexit in the UK or Trump’s candidacy in the U.S.). Or it could be because they’re tired of fewer and fewer of them crawling out from under their rocks only to be smashed by more and more antifa. Here’s hoping it’s the latter!
For eight years, Corey Menafee would go to his job in food services at Calhoun College and be faced with some of the ugliest historical reminders of the slavery and genocide his ancestors were subjected to.
Calhoun College – run by Yale – is named after pro-slavery advocate John Calhoun. Students and staff alike ran a principled campaign to convince Yale to change the name of the college. In April of this year, Yale chose to ignore their pleas.
And so, every day that Corey punched in and began his shift, he’d face historical portrayals of the “happy” slaves in the cotton fields, etc. Until one day this July, when he finally decided that enough was enough and took care of one particularly egregious stained-glass window.
“I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he told the New Haven Independent. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”
No one should be forced to face racist propaganda as a working condition. Corey should have been applauded for doing what needed to be done. Instead, he lost his job and was charged with felony offences.
Yale is beginning to understand that the optics of their response to Corey’s anti-racist direct action is not good for them, but Corey’s employment and legal situation both remain uncertain. We wanted to do our part to make sure that neither Corey nor his family suffers because of his brave actions, so we’ve contributed to his defence. You should do that same!
17-year-old Abdul Juma is a black Muslim living with is family in San Diego. At a party marking the end of the school year, a pack of five homophobes starting harassing a trans student from Abdul’s high school. Abdul did the right thing and stuck up for his schoolmate, who he didn’t even know personally. A fight broke out, knives were drawn, and Abdul’s finger was severed. When police arrived, they of course let the homophobic cowards go free and charged Abdul.
Abdul’s family was able to post bail, but now instead of graduating high school and moving forward with his life, he is now facing felony charges and combined legal/medical bills of nearly $40,000.
Standing up to bullies and defending trans people is something that should be applaued, not prosecuted. We were happy to donate some money to help pay for Abdul’s lawyer and his medical bills. You should kick in some cash, too.
By now most of you will have heard about the neo-nazi rally scheduled for June 26th in Sacramento that was foricbly prevented when hundreds of anti-fascists and anti-racists took the rally point from the bigots and then ran them out of Sacramento.
The bad news for the good guys was that nazis aren’t above stabbing people and nine antifa were hospitalized – mostly with stab wounds. Hospital visits are tremendously expensive in the U.S., so we were happy to be able to contribute to the fund set up to help defray some of these costs.
If you’d like to help out our friends in Sacramento or would like updates on how they’re doing, please click here.
Roman is an anti-fascist in Brest, Belarus who was arrested in the spring of 2015 on suspicion of fighting neo-nazis two years before. Last fall, Roman was sentenced to an outrageous eight years in a penal colony for this “crime.” Adding insult to injury, the court also ordered Roman to pay 3500EUR in damages to the racist swine he beat to a pulp.
The good news is that Roman’s sentence was reduced to two years back in December, but the bad news is that Roman’s family was still responsible for paying the restitution – an amount equivalent to about eleven months’ average wages in Belarus.
This request raised some concerns with the Defence Fund’s decisions crew (50+ people & groups around the world who have donated at least 15EUR to the Fund). Several people objected to the idea of us essentially turning over money to give to neo-nazis while others pointed out that the situation was totally unfair but not helping only meant that Roman’s family would suffer further.
We were unable to come to a consensus about the request and had to make the decision via a majority vote. That vote was to send Roman’s family some money to help pay the restitution costs, which we have now done.
If you would like to support Roman’s family or send Roman a letter, please click here for more details.
June 2016 has been the busiest month The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has experienced so far. In just this past month, we helped seven different anti-fascists/anti-racists in three different countries, donating more than we donated in the first five months of the Defence Fund’s existence combined!
There is undoubtedly an urgent need for a standing fund to defend anti-fascists and anti-racists but if things continue at this pace we will run out of money to help in four months. We would strongly encourage everyone that believes in the struggle against hatred and bigotry to donate whatever you can to the Defence Fund. We’d like to specifically ask you to consider donating $5/month to the Defence Fund – we believe that’s all it would take to sustain the Defence Fund at current levels, if enough people/groups committed to doing this.
Can antifa around the world count on you to do your part?
Patryk is a Polish anti-fascist that has been living in London for the last ten years or so. He is a well-known and well-respected antifa in both Poland and the UK. Unfortunately, he’s also the victim of a complete travesty of justice that occurred when nazi scum in his hometown convinced friends of their to press completely fabricated charges against Patryk.
Patryk’s trial was a complete sham and while everyone else the boneheads pressed charges against were found not guilty, Patryk actually received a three-year sentence!
Understandably, Patryk fled to the UK where he has lived and been active in the antifa scene ever since. But on May 2016 British police arrested him on a European warrant.
Patryk’s currently fighting to stay in the UK, where his partner and eight-year-old son also live. We were happy to kick in some money to help him fight the extradition and we sincerely hope that he gets to remain free in the UK.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the southwestern United States. In Albuquerque, New Mexico. two minors and two adults were arrested for their part in a raucous protest against a Herr Drumpf rally. Then a few days later, a young woman in Glendale, Arizona was arrested for allegedly introducing a baseball bat to the head of a street preacher who decided the good lord wanted him to parade in front of the woman’s high school, shouting racist, homophobic, misogynist slurs through a bullhorn while carrying a sign that said “You Deserve To Be Raped!”
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was happy to send some money to all five of these anti-fascists, who now face various charges.
If you’d like to help the ABQ people, you can donate to them here.
If you’d like to help our friend in Glendale, you can donate to her here.
If you think the Defence Fund did the right thing, you can help replenish our standing fund by donating here.
We didn’t know what to expect when we established The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund in June 2015 but we were tired of anti-fascists and anti-racists getting hurt, imprisoned, having their property destroyed, and even being killed and not being able to help them. Over the last year, we’ve received donations from all over the world; set up a global committee of more than forty anti-fascists who decide how to use our resources; and, most importantly, we’ve helped out four dozen anti-racists in ten countries. Here is our first annual report:
By The Numbers
(all figures in U.S. dollars)
- 48 anti-fascists & anti-racists in ten different countries received help from the Defence Fund, totaling more than $1700:
- Twenty in the U.S.
- Sixteen in Sweden
- Four in Germany
- Two in France
- One each in Australia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, and Spain
- 80% of the contributions covered legal defence, court costs, fines, and prisoner support;
10% covered medical bills and injury recovery;
5% covered damage to property;
5% helped to pay funeral expenses.
- 45 people in seven countries are currently on the Defence Fund’s decisions crew – the people who discuss and make decisions about proposals and requests. Any individual or group that donates at least $20 to the Fund is invited to join the decisions crew.
What We’ve Learned
Over the past year the need for this Defence Fund has been made absolutely clear. Based on the cases we looked at, it takes about $4500 on-average to repair the damage done to the lives of an anti-fascist/anti-racist when they’ve been arrested, physically injured, or had their property destroyed because of their work against hatred. Most are able to raise around 70% of that on their own or with the help of their friends & allies, leaving an typical shortfall of about $1350 to come up with. If its first year is any indication, the Defence Fund would need to raise $27,000 annually just to cover that gap. This might sound unrealistic, but don’t forget that in just a few days people all over the world donated over $30,000 to help out their friends in Anaheim who were arrested and/or injured in a confrontation with the KKK!
There are some real advantages to supporting the Defence Fund. Unlike anonymous crowdfunding pages raising money for specific incidents, the Defence Fund is made available to any anti-fascist or anti-racist in trouble; has a proven track record and a clear, democratic decision-making structure in place; and has been endorsed by three different anti-fascist/anti-racist networks. Money is ready to go and usually goes to the people who need it within two weeks. The Fund reports on every contribution it makes to anti-fascists in need on its blog in addition to posting quarterly and annual reports about its activities, accessible to anyone.
How You Can Help
The Fund relies completely on donations from people who support the struggle against hate. Obviously, we’d like every anti-fascist and anti-racist in the world to give what they can to the Fund.
- The best way is to pledge a monthly recurring donation via our Patreon account. If 225 supporters pledged just $10/month there, we would be able to donate $27,000 every year to antifa in trouble. Even $1/month adds up!
- We’re also happy to accept one-time donations of any amount via our crowdfunding page (where you can also see some of the rewards we are offering supporters) and directly through Paypal. We offer some pretty nice rewards for donations!
- If you’d like to donate to the Fund but don’t want to use those options, you can email us and we can discuss other ways to do it: firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you’re unable to donate yourself or raise money for the Fund in your community, you can still help us spread the word. Share the link to our crowdfunding page; share posts from our blog; print out and distribute flyers about the Fund!
We are looking forward to our second year of supporting anti-fascists and anti-racists around the world, with your help and participation!
(as we are also publishing an annual report, this report will only cover the activities of The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund from March-May 2016).
The final quarter of the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund proved to be its busiest so far! It started off with a request to help seven anti-racists who had successfully shut down a KKK rally in Anaheim, California and were stabbed and arrested as a result. This particular request was interesting for a few reasons: by the time we were discussing the request, there were already two anonymous crowdfunding pages up and running, which together managed to raise over $50,000 in a few days. Controversy later erupted when one of the seven anti-racists was himself accused of making racist comments on social media in the past.
In the end, we decided to make a donation to the crowdfunding page that was being administered by two groups whose names we recognized and forego contributing to the other crowdfunding page, which was set up anonymously to allegedly support the person who had been accused of making racist comments.
This situation really emphasized for us the importance of the Defence Fund. Instead of anti-racists hoping that they have tech-savvy friends that can set up crowdfunding pages for them, the Defence Fund has money ready-to-go when people need it the most – to make bail, to pay for legal defence, to pay medical bills, etc. Unlike anonymous crowdfunding pages where donors can’t verify the page has an actual connection to the people it’s purporting to raise money for, the Defence Fund has a year-long, verifiable record of helping dozens of anti-fascists and anti-racists around the world and is endorsed by three well-known anti-fascist networks. Finally, the Defence Fund’s standing decisions committee of 44 anti-fascists and anti-racists have the flexibility to discuss and decide on matters that make requests more complex (like the alleged racism of one of the potential recipients, as in this case).
Aside from Anaheim, the Defence Fund also contributed to a fund to help Jason Hammond transition back into the world after his release from prison, where he had served out a sentence for the Tinley Park action in 2012. Welcome back, Jason! We were also happy to help pay a court fine for M, an antifascist in Marseille who was arrested for being part of the antifa crew that successfully disrupted a front national meeting last year. Meanwhile in Copenhagen, we contributed to the legal defence of Peter, who was arrested for taking part in a confrontation of Pegida DK. Finally, we contributed to the legal defence of several antifa in the U.S. who were arrested on trumped-up charges when they attempted to disrupt and shut down a KKK rally in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
In other news, the UK’s Anti Fascist Network became the third anti-fascist network to endorse the Defence Fund. The Anti Fascist Network is the largest, fastest-growing, and most active anti-fascist network in the UK, with its member chapters involved in every major anti-fascist mobilization there in recent months. We also received a lovely thank-you letter from the Klinika collective in Prague, who we helped rebuild after neo-nazis firebombed their community/refugee support centre and attacked and injured several people.
Helping anti-racists harmed in five different actions in three countries in just three months – yeah, we’ve been busy!