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.
The Iuventais a rescue ship that’s been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since 2016. During those four years it save saved the lives of over 14,000 refugees risking their lives to find safe haven by traversing the deadliest border in the world.
Italy has taken the position that saving refugees from drowning is a criminal act and has seized the Iuventa and launched an absurd investigation into the crew for “people smuggling.” The Iuventa 10now face criminal prosecution in Italy on charges that could lead to 20-year prison sentences if convicted.
We can think of fewer actions that more closely embody the values of anti-fascism than to literally save the lives of thousands of refugees. We are honoured that we were able to make a donation tothe legal defence of these 10 antifa sailors and we encourage everyone who believes that the value of human lives transcends borders to do the same.
While the Defence Fund’s Decisions Crew was discussing this case, the post-election situation in Belarus transformed into a full-scale rebellion against that country’s autocrat. The state’s response has been mass arrests, kidnappings, and brutal violence. Anarchist Black Cross Belarus made a call for support for the legal defence of those detained/arrested and The Defence Fund was one of the first organizations to respond with a large contribution.
Wien’s finest, protecting & serving fascists by shutting down anti-fascists while allowing fascists to publicly march in the streets.
The gif of the incident tells the entire story – a fascist goon in Wien chooses a much smaller anti-fascist as his target at an anti-fascist rally and aggressively goes after them, not anticipating that the antifa would effectively defend themselves with a decent left hook! Anyone can see who the aggressor is here and who was defending themselves. But of course that wasn’t good enough for the police, who charged the anti-fascist for failing to leave the scene before being attacked! And it apparently wasn’t good enough for the courts, either, who convicted our friend!
If you’ve been following our activities, this shouldn’t come as any surprise – the police and the courts seem to think their role is to prosecute anti-fascists while enabling fascist violence – that is when the police aren’t directly involved in attacking antifa themselves. Does that sound hyperbolic to you? Take a look at this list of police attempts to harm anti-fascists we published two years ago. Or ask yourself: when is the last time you heard of the police tear-gassing or pepper-spraying or firing rubber bullets at or beating fascists like the KKK or the Proud Boys, etc.?
So our friend in Wien – who now is faced with paying heavy fines and legal costs for the “crime” of defending themselves against a fascist clearly bent on attacking them – isn’t the first anti-fascist criminalized by a legal system hell-bent on facilitating fascist violence and they won’t be the last. But we’re here to support our friends whenever they are attacked – by fascists without badges or by fascists with badges – for as long as we have funds available to do so. Please make sure we’re always around to do this work and stand in solidarity with anti-fascists criminalized by the courts by making a contribution today.
We’re all quite certain the prosecutor’s intent was to have our friend plead down to a lesser sentence, pay a simple fine, and be done with it. What they didn’t account for our our friend’s determination to not allow the German state to criminalize antifascism and solidarity with the Kurdish people and the revolution they are fighting for in Rojava. So instead of accepting a plea deal, he demanded a trial, and we helped to make sure he had all the legal resources he needed to mount an effective case in court.
How effective a case? We got the news yesterday: the judge threw out all the charges against our friend and acquitted him!
Because our friend had all the legal resources he needed to make his case, he’s walked free and the attempts by the state to make support for antifascism and the Rojava revolution a crime have failed. Because we were able to provide him with a chunk of the necessary funds, he had those legal resources to fight his case and win.
So if you have ever contributed to the Defence Fund, please know that this victory is also your victory.
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund began five years ago, a year after we started the Antifa International social media collective. As we did our thing on social media, we noticed more and more that antifascists were winding up in emergency situations because of their work fighting hatred and bigotry and would then have to rely on themselves and their friends scrambling to come up with the resources required to help them out of those situations. We thought that, with our increasing connections to antifascists the world over, we could do better. We thought that setting up a standing fund to defend and support antifascists in times of crisis would be an excellent way to demonstrate real solidarity. So we established The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund and set to work raising money for it and reaching out to antifascists internationally.
About a month later we made our first contribution, which went to the legal defence of Valentin – an antifascist and SV Werder Bremen supporter arrested after he defended himself and others from an attack by neo-nazis after a football match in Bremen, Germany. After a few weeks of fundraising, we were proud to be able to contribute a whopping €45 (about $49USD).
Five years on, we’ve donated over €76,000 ($83,000USD) to help out more than 500 antifascists in 22 different countries! Every decision we make is reached democratically by the Defence Fund’s Decisions Crew – a body of 863 antifascists (and counting!) from around the world. Every time we provide support to an antifascist, we blog about it, so our decisions are as transparent as possible.
Year Five: 2019-2020
Some of the anti-fascists we helped support during times of crisis over the last twelve months.
Over the last 12 months, The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund came to the rescue of anti-fascists confronted with difficult & potentially life-altering or deadly circumstances 25 times – a 47% increase over 2018-2019. Here is an overview for you:
We donated $23,400USD to 90 anti-fascists; the largest amount we’ve ever donated in our five years. The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund: Donations To Anti-Fascists
2019-2020 also marked a 48% increase in the number of anti-fascists we supported from the previous twelve months, when we helped out 61 people.
The support we provided went to antifa in 13 countries:
Map of countries where anti-fascists receiving support from The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund over the last 12 months were located
28 in Norway
20 in the United States
11 in Russia
10 in Ireland
7 in Germany
4 in Canada
2 each in Greece, Poland, and Sweden
One each in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, and the UK
71% of contributions covered legal defence, court costs, fines, and prisoner support; 16% of contributions covered medical bills, injury recovery and living costs while antifa dealt with injuries sustained in attacks against them; 13% of contributions covered emergency relocation.
The kinds of emergencies we helped anti-fascists contend with over the last 12 months.
The Defence Fund‘s Decisions Crew (the body that discusses and decides on what support to give requests or proposals received) grew 20% to include 872 antifa from 18 different countries, making the Decisions Crew the largest organization of anti-fascists in the world (to our knowledge!).
What it looks like in Gothenburg, Sweden, when the people turn out to counter a nazi march.
Gothenburg is not the kind of city that would normally spring to mind when you hear the phrase “street battles with fascists,” but over the last few years as Sweden’s so-called Nordic Resistance Movement tried to gain a foothold there, that’s been the reality. The nazis there have bombed the city’s bookstores and refugee camps but also tried to publicly own the streets with marches and rallies. The good people of Gothenburg were not having it and 20,000 of them ran the NRM off the streets in 2017. A year later, the fascists tried to attack the city’s May Day march and were stopped dead in their tracks. Then last year the NRM tried to hold a rally on May Day in neighbouring Kungälv but again were shown by thousands the error of their ways.
This all sounds like good news, of course, but we haven’t told you about the police yet.
Just like police everywhere, Gothenburg’s focused their policing efforts during these events not on the genocidal terror gang that had run a bombing campaign in the city, but on the anti-fascists opposed to them. And just like everywhere, this meant that anti-fascists were faced with the choice of allowing murderous thugs free reign in their city or risking arrest to confront them.
So when FSB agents arrested ten young anti-fascists in 2017 and accused them of operating a secret terrorist organization called “The Network,” it was obvious that the only terror being perpetrated was by the Russian state against its own people, yet again.
After nearly three years of detention, the systematic denial of both the legal and human rights of the arrestees, and unbelievable forced “confessions” extracted under well-documented torture, the FSB has accomplished its goal of ruining the lives of ten young men and throwing their families into chaos and uncertainty. Seven of the ten have already received prison sentences of between six and eighteen years. Meanwhile, fascist gangs roam Russia’s streets, committing brazen assaults and murders with total impunity, while police and the FSB turn a blind eye or assist them.
As anti-fascists, we don’t turn our backs on our fellow anti-fascists when they’re facing repression no matter where they are. We do whatever we can to support them. So The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has sent a significant contribution to the team providing support to Andrey, Igor, Arman, Viktor, Ilya, Mikhail, Yuliy, Maxim, Vasiliy, and Dmitriy and their families.
What is the crime? The Lünenberg prosecutor has apparently decided that any and all displays of support for the Rojava revolution or the Kurdish people must actually be displays of support for the banned PKK organization, and is prosecuting our friend accordingly.
We are fairly certain that the prosecutor cynically assumed our friend would take a plea deal, pay a fine, and be done with it. But our friend has refused to do so and is going on trial to fight the state’s attempt to criminalize anti-fascism and solidarity with the Kurdish people and the revolution they are fighting for in Rojava.
We weren’t about to let our friend stand alone in this fight and have sent him a contribution to help pay for the legal costs involved in the struggle. Because if the German state succeeds in banning an anti-fascist symbol synonymous with solidarity with the Kurdish people and the Rojava revolution, what will they ban next?