The black school bus with mesh screens over the windows looked right out of Mad Max: Fury Road as it drove up to counter-protestors who had just successfully confronted fascists at a Unite The Right-style rally in Portland, OR. In it were members of “American Guard” – a nazi bonehead splinter group – and they came well-armed. The first one off the bus pulled a knife and tried to stab the first anti-fascist he saw, but luckily tripped, dropping his knife. A second nazi came right behind him, with a pistol on his belt and a claw hammer in his hand, aiming a blow to the skull of the antifa the first nazi had failed to stab.
That’s when Alex stepped in. Thinking quickly, Alex grabbed the hammer and tore it from the nazi’s hands, then managed to throw it before the nazis panicked and slammed the bus door shut to make their getaway. Alex’s actions likely prevented an antifascist from being bludgeoned to death that day.
But Alex’s fiercest opponents weren’t the armed, violent nazis who had driven into Portland that day to try to murder anti-fascists; they were the police & prosecutors who, while declining to charge any of the nazis, slapped Alex with multiple felony charges, claiming they were justified because Alex “assaulted someone with a hammer” (maybe Andy Ngo was running the prosecution office that day?) For saving someone’s life by intervening to disarm an attacker, Alex was now facing a minimum of five years behind bars and needed a skilled lawyer to defend him. A crowdfunder was soon launched and The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund, along with many others, pitched in to make sure he could hire the best lawyer possible.
Fast forward two years later and Alex is in a courtroom packed with supporters for his trial, watching as his lawyers COMPLETELY DEMOLISH the District Attorney’s case.
Had the DA’s office contacted any of the nazis that were on the bus? No they had not.
Was the DA able to establish that Alex injured anyone? No. In fact, one of their own witnesses stated that he was “uninjured and unafraid” of Alex after a brief interaction.
Can the prosecutor explain why they are demanding a prison sentence and a $10,000 fine? No.
Will the prosecutor describe the facts of their case to the Judge? No, they defer to Alex’s attorney to do that!
In the end, with the prosecution’s case in shambles, the judge wisely ruled Alex to be guilty of only the mildest of his many charges and decided that no jail and a $1k fine or community services -“whichever (Alex) prefers” to be the appropriate sentence. That might not sound like a complete vindication but it could well be enough for the DA to defer from appealing the case.
Have no doubt that things could have gone very differently and turned out much, much worse for Alex had he not had the funds to hire a competent lawyer. The list of antifascist prisoners is full of people who weren’t as lucky as Alex was in terms of having quality legal representation. We are happy things turned out as well as they did for Alex and that we were able to play a role in them turning out as they did. Just like Yvette Felarca, or two antifa moms in SC, our three friends in Austin, TX, our friends in Corvallis, OR., an antifascist in Lünenberg, Germany, and – just last month- seven antifascists in Lyon, France we were able to help pay for legal defence that kept anti-fascists free and in their communities so they can continue the fight against hate!
As Alex wrote to us after we sent him some help, “I am aware of what a huge gift this is from you. Thank you so much for believing in me. I know there are others out there like me who need help, too. Thank you, truly, for what you’ve done.“
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