It’s been a busy month here at The International Defence Fund. For one, donations to the Defence Fund spiked noticeably right around the time of the inauguration or a certain political leader. Maybe it was coincidence or maybe it was a huge number of people waking up to an awful political reality and wanted to make sure the people that will be on the front lines have the support and protection they deserve. Hard to say which.
This also meant that the Decisions Crew (who discuss and make all decisions regarding the Defence Fund) doubled in size and we now have well over 300 Decisions Crew members in fifteen different countries working together to call the shots.
Finally, we recently had to discuss and decide on not one, not two, but three requests for help simultaneously! Two were fairly straightforward:
(V., at the opening of his trial last week)
V. is an antifascist and FC Partyzan supporter in Belarus currently on trial for allegedly attacking a group of racist hoodlums in his town. It was a no-brainer for us to send him some money to help pay his legal fees.
(as Michael Dewitz found out, when you show up at a university to seig heil Jewish students and parade around with your felt-marker swastika armband, you’re going to get surrounded by hundreds of angry antifa students for three hours. Then you might need to go shopping for a new jacket, after you get out of the hospital.)
Then there was the matter of two concerned citizens in Gainseville. After hearing that 34-year-old local neo-nazi dipshit Michael Dewitz’s three-hour harassment of Jewish university students was coming to an end, they allegedly relieved Dewitz of his swastika-armband-adorned jacket – possibly out of concern that he would suffer from heat exhaustion, having just been surrounded by hundreds of angry students in the hot Florida sun for three hours. You’d think the two gentlemen would be praised for their quick thinking and concern for Dewitz’s health but no! Instead, the authorities charged them with assault and theft.
In this case, there was a crowdfunding page established to help with the legal fees incurred by these two Good Samaritans but we couldn’t confirm any link to the two individuals and failed to make contact with the crowdfunding organizers. We did, however, get in touch with the defense lawyers for our two Florida friends and so paid a chunk of their legal bills directly.
Finally, the request for help that appeared to be the most cut-and-dry turned out to be the most complicated:
(NEVER LET THEM HAVE THE CAMPUS: antifa confronting Milo @ UW in Seattle in January)
When alt right bigot, misogynist, and transphobe Milo Yiannopoulus spoke at the UW campus in Seattle in January, lots of people on-and-off-campus took issue with his brand of fascist harassment campaigns being provided a platform. In the ensuing confrontation, a well-respected IWW member of the General Defense Committee was shot in the stomach by a radicalized right-wing extremist. Of course, the police believed the extremist’s claim of self-defence and did not investigate or charge him with anything. Meanwhile, our Wobbly friend remains in hospital, after nearly succumbing to his bullet wound.
Now clearly, help to pay the medical expenses in such a scenario is exactly why the Defence Fund was created. But what we didn’t count on was the success of our friend’s fellow Wobs in raising money for him themselves. Within 24 hours, $20,000USD had been donated; as of this writing, they’ve raised $60,000USD to help with his medical bills.
While this was undeniably wonderful, it left us debating whether he really needed the pittance we could provide him or whether it would be better to save our resources to help other antifa who do not have quite as many generous friends to back them up.
In the end, we donated $100USD – a token amount to be sure, but one that we hope expresses the spirit of support and solidarity we made it in, while allowing us to hold back resources that will probably be needed to help other antifa that are not as fortunate as our Wobbly friend.