Richmond VA. takes to the street in support of Rojava, October 12, 2019.
By now, much of the world is well-aware of what’s happening in Rojava right now. That tiny sliver of northern Syria – home to one of the most radical experiments in direct-democracy on the planet – has fought to defend its revolution for the last five years from the genocidal fascists in Daesh (aka ISIS). Just when the battle looked to be over and the brave fighters in the YPG, YPJ, and various international brigades could claim victory, Turkey’s autocratic despots hatched a back-room deal with Trump, wherein he would withdraw U.S. military support for the defenders of the Rojava revolution, allowing Turkey & its fascist paramilitary allies to invade the territory and begin the systematic displacement and genocide of the Kurdish people living there, along with their non-Kurdish neighbours.
It’s hard to know what do to in the face of the most powerful military forces around. A call for an international day of solidarity with Rojava went out for October 12th; demonstrations in support of Rojava were held around the world, including in Richmond, VA.
The Richmond event started off very well, with a lively crowd taking over the hip Carytown neighborhood for an hour. But then Richmond police decided their free speech rights were no longer valid and without warning, attacked the crowd, violently arrested two protestors. Now, for showing solidarity with people facing extermination by fascist military regimes, they’ve been charged with various “unlawful actions,” like “wearing a mask” and “assaulting a police officer” (which we are VERY CERTAIN DID NOT HAPPEN!).
Richmond IWW has set up a crowdfunder to pay for the lawyers these two people now need to get these bullshit charges thrown and they asked us to help pay for those lawyers. A lively discussion ensued among the 750+ members of the Defence Fund’s Decisions Crew. Some felt that this action was too far removed from anti-fascist work; others disagreed. In the end, we were unable to reach consensus and had to resort to a vote, which clearly showed that the majority of Decisions Crew members supported helping our friends in Richmond. We did that this morning.
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund remains the only standing fund out there dedicated to provide emergency support to anti-fascists when they need it the most. If you want to show some real solidarity with the people putting themselves on the line to confront and resist hatred and bigotry the world over, you should make a contribution to the Defence Fund today!
Some of the people & situations we helped out with in October alone! From the top left: Jock Palfreeman is initially released on parole in Sofia; LGBTQ+ activists in Lublin, Poland take to the streets and face violence by organized mobs of homophobes; unarmed antifa in Newnan, GA. peacefully protesting a nazi march through town have assault rifles pointed at them by the kkkops; antifa at the Brenner Pass protest Austria’s xenophobic migration policies.
Hey there, how was your fall? Was it as busy as ours? Here’s our busy ours was: we helped defend & support 47 anti-fascists in seven different countries over the past three months! Let’s recap what went down, shall we?
- When alt-right clod Luke Lenzner picked a fight with the wrong mixed-race couple in Portland, he got a big ol’ black eye for his efforts and the couple got slapped with assault charges. Which were later dropped entirely, but not before we sent them some money to hire a lawyer to defend them!
- Also in Portland: our man Alex stopped a white supremacist gang from attacking people in that city with a claw hammer by taking the hammer away from the goon trying to smash people in the head with it, showing that anti-fascism is truly self-defence! Unfortunately, Alex has to now prove that in the courts, as he was the one charged with a crime from that incident. We helped to make sure that he’s got a quality lawyer with him when he goes to court. Alex wrote to us to say “I am aware of what a huge gift this is from you. Thank you so much for believing in me.Thank you, truly, for what you’ve done.” THANK YOU FOR DEFENDING PDX, ALEX!
- In Germany, the very first case the Defence Fund ever helped out with has finally come to a conclusion four years later. The six other German antifa ultras that successfully defended themselves against an attack by fascist scum in 2015 ended their legal proceedings with no jail time for the good guys but a hefty €17500 in legal costs. Thankfully, we’ve received a few more donations since we first helped out one of the accused and were able to make a more generous contribution to paying off that legal bill this time. FORZA SV WERDER BREMEN ANTIFA!
- Speaking of antifa ultras, a member of Brigada Ultrá Clapton faces a trial for their part in a 2016 open borders demonstration at the Bremmer Pass, which sits on the Austria/Italy border. Three years later and the trial still hasn’t happened, but the bills from the defence lawyer have, so we did what we could to help take care of those.
- Another blast from the past came to us via Newnan, Georgia. That’s the town where last year at least 400 kkkops responded to a peaceful, unarmed counter-protest of a full-on nazi march through town by pointing assault rifles at the anti-fascists, tackling and assaulting anyone that spoke up or refused to put their lives at risk by de-masking. Last year, we helped with the legal defence of one of the antifa that tried to de-escalate the situation; here we are more than a year later and one of the other anti-fascists, who was charged & convicted of wearing a mask in public (Georgia has an anti-Spider-Man law or something?), is challenging their conviction and taking it as far as possible through the legal system. That’s a fight we can get behind, so we did.
- Poland has been a flashpoint for violence against LGBTQ+ civil rights activists. The governing political party is openly homophobic and the mayor of Lublin banned a Pride march this fall. Queer people were not having it and went ahead with the march anyway, which led to attacks by mobs of far-right homophobes who blocked the march route and assaulted Pride marchers. When two of our friends left the march, they were pursued by a pack of screaming homophobes who were threatening to kill them in the street. When the homophobes charged, our friends gave them a blast of pepper spray and fought them off. So of course the homophobes ran to the nearest police to play victim and now our friends are up on charges! We’ve ensured that both our friends have competent legal representation to defend them against these fictitious charges and are looking forward to the good news of their acquittal when the whole mess goes to trial.
- Jock Palfreeman is an Australian national who, while backpacking through Sofia, Bulgaria in 2007, witnessed a mob of bigots attacking two young Roma boys. Jock stepped in to intervene and was set upon by the mob. In the ensuing altercation, one of the attackers died of a stab wound, Jock was charged with the stabbing, and a sham trial led to a 20-year prison sentence for him. Last month and after serving 11 years in prison, Jock was suddenly and unexpectedly granted parole. But before anyone could pop champagne corks, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov intervened, seizing Jock’s passport, placing him essentially under house arrest, and demanding that the supreme court review the parole decision, . This move was unprecedented, appears to have no basis in Bulgarian law, has been condemned as political interference in the judicial system, and was likely motivated by pressure by Bulgarian extreme-right groups. While Jock holds up in a safe house in Sofia awaiting the Bulgarian supreme court to decide his fate, we were able to provide an amount to make sure he’s taken care of.
- Speaking of taking care of people with experience in the prison system, we were very sad to hear that our friend David was headed into Rikers for the crime of having his leg broken by the NYPD during a protest at a 2018 Mike Cernovich event in NYC (we helped David pay his rent while he healed up back then). The fucking pig completely fabricated charges against David (maybe to help cover up his outright brutality and excessive force?) and when video evidence made the kkkop’s lies plain to see, the Manhattan DA changed the charges to “gang assault,” which you can be convicted of without laying a finger on anyone. Faced with 3.5 years in jail, David took an 18-month non-cooperating plea deal and is now locked up until 2021. We hate to see this happen to such a good person and it’s frustrating that all we could do was put enough money in his commissary to keep him comfortable for a few months, but we do what we can.
- Halloween in Denver was a little more eventful thanks to the anti-semitic trolls that crawled out from under their rocks and devoted the day to terrorizing and threatening as many Jewish people as they could. Fortunately, anti-fascists in Denver were not having that and did what they could to disrupt the anti-semites’ plans. Unfortunately, the cops were called and (wait for it) sided with the anti-semites out threatening Jewish people! Now three anti-fascists are facing charges and we helped out to get them proper legal representation.
- Two days later and 4660 miles away from Denver, anti-fascists in Oslo were very successful at finding out the secret location of a super-secret nazi meeting and then surrounding the location and basically ruining the nazis’ day! This pissed off both the nazis and the Oslo cops, who were completely out-maneuvered and caught flat-footed by the antifa that day. Cops hate being embarrassed so they reacted by attacking the anti-fascists and then putting 28 of them up on charges and petty fines, which cumulatively were not so petty – 300,000 Norwegian krone ($32,000USD) to be exact. We answered the call of AFA Bergen & AFA Oslo to help pay those fines off as best as we could, given our limited funds.
If you’ve read this far, you must be exhausted and also probably able to understand how exhausted we are handling the amount of requests for emergency support we’ve received over the last twelve weeks. But that’s why The Defence Fund exists – to help anti-fascists in the emergencies that go hand-in-hand with defending their communities from bigotry and hatred.
The other thing that is exhausted from all this activity is our bank account. The Defence Fund relies 100% on donations from people who believe that anti-fascism is a social duty and that solidarity is our most effective weapon, but at the rate requests for help are coming in, it will not be long before our funds are depleted. You could do something about this, of course, by making a contribution to the Defence Fund right now!