From Belarus To Ukraine, Antifascists Stand Together!

Alexey Bolenkov (with mic) and Artur Kondratovych

Last month we told you about some of the difficulties of being an antifascist in Belarus these days. But you know what might be even more difficult than that? Being a Belrusian antifascist living in Ukraine.

For example, there’s Alexey Bolenkov and Artur Kondratovych – two Belrusian antifascists and anarchists who have been living in Ukraine for several years now, doing really solid organizing work in the community there. Ukranian authorities have been keen to rid themselves of people challenging them on issues such as police brutality, the plight of refugees, and the creeping fascist presence there and have actively deported several people for their completely-legal participation in peaceful demonstrations. Such is the context in which they have attempted to illegally deport Alexey and Artur.

Our two friends have challenged this illegal extradition on the courts and have every sign of winning there. But this is costing a lot of money and they need help to fight for their rights – a situation made more difficult by Alexey recently losing his job as a result of all the publicity.

On top of that, the case has attracted a lot of public attention, particularly from no fewer than four separate fascist gangs operating in Ukraine. These gangs have coordinated their efforts, physically attacking Alexey’s and Artur’s supporters and, in one especially bold move, attacking Alexey himself outside of the courthouse prior to a hearing, in full view of Ukranian police and court security.

It’s fair to say that Alexey and Artur are in a tight spot and need support from antifascists to help see them through it. That’s what the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was established and that’s why we were happy to be able to come to their aid!

Bad Times In Belarus

You’ll probably remember the uprisings in Belarus last year, when autocrat Alexander Lukashenko very plainly falsified election results to maintain his 25-year grip on power there. Four of the 5000+ people who took to the streets in protest – antifascists Vitaliy Shishlov, Tamaz Pipiya, Timur Pipiya, and Denis Boltut – were convicted in July of this year on charges stemming from their participation in the protests, based largely on coerced confessions that were extracted under beatings and torture by regime goons. All four were given prison sentences of between five and six years.

ABC Belarus reached out to us about their cases and asked us to help provide support to pay for the legal costs involved with the four cases, as well as to provide some funds to help support the families of the four convicted antifascists. After a short discussion, we quickly came to a consensus that we needed to show international solidarity by providing real material aid to help them. We were happy to be in a position to do so.

Glad Colston’s Gone

The statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston is transported to a more-suitable location.

For 125 years a statue honouring a mass murderer loomed over Bristol’s city centre. Edward Colston made his fortune in the trade of kidnapping human beings and selling them into slavery. It’s estimated that he profited from the enslavement of about 84,000 Africans – 19,000 of whom died in abject misery in the holds of Colston’s slave ships.

For decades, the good people of Bristol – many of whom descended from the very people kidnapped and sold as chattel by Colston – pleaded with the authorities to remove this monument to human avarice and tribute to genocide, all to no avail.

That changed about a year ago. Fueled by the righteous anger at the systemic murder of black people by police, a crowd of thousands gathered in the heart of Bristol, tore the obscenity in question from its plinth, dragged Colston’s effigy through the streets, and dumped him in the habour.

Of course the powers-that-be read this as an affront to their authority and began a witch hunt to prosecute those responsible. Out of literally thousands of people who participated in the action, four have been singled and and charged with offences.

Fortunately, the team behind Glad Colston’s Gone has started a support campaign to ensure that the four accused have all the resources they need to mount an effective legal defence and beat the charges, including setting up a legal defence crowdfunder. Thanks to the support of its contributors, The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has made a significant contribution to their legal defence and we would implore all those who believe monuments to slavers belong in the bottom of the sea to follow suit.

San Diego Standoff

Antifascists show up to defend San Diego from armed, violent white supremacists, January 9, 2021

You would have thought that, three days after a violent insurrection at the nation’s capitol that resulted in five deaths, America would have had an awakening about the dangers of allowing fascists to publicly organize and gather. Maybe the officers of San Diego Police Department would have looked at the people who beat a cop to death and injured 140 other cops on Capitol Hill just three days before, then looked at the people holding a white supremacist rally in Pacific Beach (at least five of whom were the same people), and adjusted their response accordingly.

But no. No, instead what happened was several of the would-be insurrectionists + their Proud Boy pals + members of a white supremacist gang recently facing an FBI investigation for violent attacks showed up on the beach on January 9th to face off against a courageous group of antifascists. Guess which side received 100% police collaboration & protection? Some clues:

-at one point, a gang of Proud Boys chased a military veteran into an alley and severely beat him.

-moments later, a swastika-tattooed white supremacist sucker punched an Asian man, then pulled out a hunting knife and threatened to stab people coming to the man’s aid.

This man sucker-punched an Asian man in the face in full view of the police, then pulled out the hunting knife you see in his right hand to threaten other people with. He was reportedly disarmed – not by police – but by local skaters.

So of course, like we’ve seen them do time and time again, the police did react – by targeting & attacking the anti-fascist counterprotestors while letting the violent white supremacist extremists do whatever they want. The cops fired pepper spray & shot projectiles at anti-fasicsts and journalists alike while fascists joined in, stepping out from behind police lines to throw munitions at the antifascist counterprotestors. When the police eventually declared an unlawful assembly, they were careful to only declare it for the area occupied by antifascists, allowing the fascists assembled to move on and attack locals.

Oh, the cops did arrest people – two antifascists, JW & TC, both of whom now have to come up with the money to hire legal teams to defend themselves in court. Both have had crowdfunders set up here and here to help them with this. Of course, we were very pleased to be in a position to make significant contributions to both, which we were only in a position to do because of the contributions of anti-fascists all over the world to the Defence Fund. Maybe you’d like to make a contribution? If you sign up to become a monthly contributor this month, we’ll enter you a lil’ antifa prize package giveaway contest!

The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund: 2020-2021 Annual Report

The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund is six! Since 2015, we have provided emergency support to antifascists the world over, whenever they’ve faced dire circumstances resulting from their work thwarting bigotry and fascism. We are the only international anti-fascist solidarity project we’re aware of that’s dedicated exclusively to supporting antifa in emergencies. To-date we have provided over $140,000USD in emergency aid to more than 600 antifascists in 22 different countries.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve been able to provide very significant levels of support to 125 antifascists in six different countries (Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, France, Germany, and the U.S.). We provided emergency support to antifascists 15 times since June 2020 – a 40% drop over the same period in 2018-2019 that we believe is entirely attributable to COVID-19 restrictions on things like public gatherings. That said, the $48,000USD of financial support we provided marked a 66% increase from the previous year and the most money we’ve ever contributed for emergency aid to antifascists since the Defence Fund began.

Emergency support provided to antifascists by the Defence Fund ($USD).

As usual, the majority (76.7%) of the funds disbursed went towards legal defence, court costs, fines, and prisoner support; 8.9% of contributions covered medical bills, injury recovery and living costs while antifascists recovered from injuries sustained in attacks against them;  7.8% of contributions covered emergency relocation; and 6.6% was used to repair serious damage to buildings after fascist attacks and to improve physical security/defences.

All decisions about how the Defence Fund is used and operates are made by the Decisions Crew – a body of antifascists from around the world who have made contributions of at least $20USD to the Defence Fund. The decisions are made via consensus wherever possible and by majority vote in circumstances where consensus is not forthcoming. In our first year, there were all of 45 Decisions Crew members. As of today, over 1200 antifascists from 25 countries have been invited to join the Decisions Crew.

Normally in our annual reports, we like to highlight particular cases we dealt with over the previous 12 months that we felt were significant or special in some way. This past October, New York antifascist David Campbell was released from prison after being forced to accept a non-cooperating plea deal on charges that were largely fabricated. David was good enough to create this message for us:

Looking forward to the twelve months ahead, we anticipate a a drop in contributions to the Defence Fund. Since Donald Trump is no longer occupying the most powerful position in the world and since he has lost most of the channels he used to rail against antifascists, the cause of antifascism may not seem as urgent to some who we could normally count on for support. Compounding this expected reduction in contributions, we also foresee a marked increase in requests for support as more regions move out of COVID-mandated lockdowns and antifascists have to contend with a resurgent fascist movement which wasted no time infiltrating and co-opting the COVID conspiracy movement.

We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done with The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund and we firmly believe it has proven itself as one of the most effective ways to support antifascism. We strongly encourage anyone opposed to bigotry and fascism to make a contribution to the Defence Fund today and become actively involved in our project of international antifascist solidarity!

Police Story

Scottie Tripn under arrest by the LAPD, January 6, 2021

We’d be understating the point if we told you that the LAPD has had a race relations problem over the last several decades. There’s a reason Black Flag wrote “Police Story” about them waaay back in 1981 and NWA would write “Fuck Tha Police” about them seven years later.

So don’t be surprised if we tell you that in 2021 ain’t a damn thing changed. Witness the po-po’s actions on January 6th. While MAGA chuds in DC attempted to overthrow the government, their LA counterparts came downtown to attack people there. Well-known LA musician, veteran, and Black Lives Matter supporter Scottie Tripn came down to make sure people weren’t hurt by the fascist losers.

Not long after he arrived there was an alleged interaction between him and one of the Piss Boys.  These two photos – of Scottie getting bear maced & how “captain america” looked afterwards tell the tale:

How it started.
How it’s going.

Witnesses report that after defending himself ably from the cosplaying shitsack that bear maced him, Scottie was then jumped by more fascists, then dragged off and beaten with nightsticks by the LAPD. Now Scottie faces serious charges and has mounting legal and medical bills from this attack.

The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was able to make a significant contribution to Scottie’s crowdfunder and we encourage y’all to follow suit, just as we encourage you to kick in to the Defence Fund itself so we can continue to stand with the anti-fascists that stand up in the streets for their communities.

Refugees Welcome; Fascists Fuck Off!

Plattform für eine menschliche Asylpolitik & other Wien antifascists take to the streets, March 20, 2021

One of the best ways to know that your crew is doing effective anti-fascist work is when the fascists come after you. We know this first hand after Brietbart singled us out for (an unsuccessful) deplatforming attack a few years ago! So Austria’s Plattform für eine menschliche Asylpolitik have been paid the highest of compliments by one of that country’s most vile politicians, the FPÖ’s Herbert Kickl, when he filed a “copyright infringement” lawsuit against them.

Because they published a photo of him on their website mobilize for a protest against him, under the slogan “Never again!”

A photo they took from his facebook page.

Yes, that’s how little Kickl had to work with to get The Platform. But that was enough to force them to mount a legal defence – one they estimated would cost approximately 10,000€.

The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was pleased to be able to help them get to the amount they need to defend themselves in court; just as we’ll be even more pleased when they win in court and Kickl is forced to faced the consequences of wasting the court’s time and resources on such a frivolous and vexatious matter. As the judge will no doubt put it in her ruling.

If you’d like to read more background on the lawsuit against The Platform and their legal defence (or would like to personally contribute), here it is.

If you’d like to make sure the Defence Fund is always ready to defend anti-fascists the world over against any charges, no matter how frivolous, please contribute here.

Fascist Cancel Culture

March 2021: 50 Generation Identitaire fascists attack the anarchist book shop La Plume Noire in Lyon, France.

“Cancel culture is out of control!” the right wing pundits shriek. “Hasbro is making a gender-neutral potato toy! We can’t buy the more-racist Dr. Seuss books for our children anymore! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???”

Nothing outrages a bigot more than people demanding that they treat the people they believe to be their inferiors with basic respect and common courtesy. Whether it’s Jordan Peterson decrying the violation of his sacred free speech rights by trans students who wanted him to do the bare minimum of politeness by refering to them by the pronouns that conform to their identity; to the decision by major league baseball to move their All-Star game to a state that doesn’t try to suppress the votes of black people – nothing gets far-right bigots and extremists more apoplectic than their bigotry being “cancelled” when people call them out on it.

This is, of course, just the latest rebranding of a tired old trope in far-right circles. For historical reference:

But something the far-right doesn’t like you to think about is that they have their own form of “cancel culture.”

All too often, fascist “cancel culture,” = violence. Take for example what happened to the Lyon, France anarchist book shop La Plume Noire last month: 50 fascists from France’s Generation Identitaire swarmed the shop in a planned attack, smashing out its windows, breaking down a door & display, and trying to attack the volunteers working there that day (video shot by neighbours appears to show les fachos beating a hasty retreat when the shop’s volunteers responded with a volley of pepper spray.)

Unfortunately, the damage done to the book shop was significant and enough to force them to close down while they try to put the money together for repairs:

It’s important to note that this is not an isolated incident. In 2017 trans comic artist Sophie LaBelle was forced to cancel a book launch when the book shop hosting it received thousands of death threats and bomb threats.
That same year, a Princeton professor was forced to cancel a lecture tour about her research on the Black Lives Matter movement after she received over 50 threats to murder her and her family.
A year later, Proud Boys in San Diego, California mobbed a UC San Diego campus book shop, threatening to beat the staff and burn it down. That night they returned and set fire to it.
In 2019, a theatre in Southampton, UK was forced to cancel performances of a play about a gay couple when two of the actors were assaulted on their way to the theatre.
Fascists wail and moan “cancel culture!” when their ability to publicly express their bigotry is curtailed but will not hesitate to threaten, assault, burn, and smash to shut up people asserting their right to simply exist.

Like most of you, we at The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund won’t stand for it. Like the old labor saying goes, “an injury to one is an injury to all!” We are proud to have been in a position to provide significant financial support to La Plume Noire to repair the damage done by fascists to their book shop. We encourage you to do the same, just as we encourage you to join us by contributing to the world’s only standing defence fund mandated to provide emergency aid to anti-fascists around the world when fascists try to cancel their existence.

When Is Action Anti-Fascist Action?

Pictured: Portland Police Bureau’s idea of “media liaison.” (photo credit: Dave Killen/The Oregonian)

One of the difficulties of running a defence fund for anti-fascists is deciding what does or does not constitute anti-fascist action or, when an anti-fascist runs into trouble, if it was their anti-fascism that put them in that trouble. This is something The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has wrestled with, on a case-by-case basis, over the last few years. Earlier this month, they were called again to do so when presented with a request to send some support to Cory Elia, a freelance journalist in Oregon.

Elia had gone to a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland last June to cover it as a journalist and livestream it. While livestreaming, Elia identified one of the riot cops by name and said riot cop appeared to not take kindly to that. Elia was soon tackled by the police and arrested but not before his equipment was either smashed or seized, never to be returned. Two other journalists were treated similarly that night and a few weeks later one of them teamed up with Elia to launch a lawsuit against the Portland Police Bureau.

Perhaps you see the dilemma here for the Defence Fund’s Decisions Crew – if a journalist is attending a protest that is in many ways anti-fascist in nature, are they acting as an anti-fascist, as a journalist, or as both? This question led to an extensive discussion, which did not lead to a consensus among Decisions Crew members on the answer. After a vote, a majority of Decisions Crew members decided that in Elia’s case he was not acting as an anti-fascist at the time of the incident and therefore the request to support him fell outside of the Defence Fund’s mandate, which is to support anti-fascists in times of trouble that arises from their work as anti-fascists.

The hundreds of Decisions Crew members would probably reach consensus very quickly on supporting all people harmed by fascism and bigotry if the Defence Fund had an infinite pool of money and resources to draw from. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case and so we are careful to ensure that our support matches up with our mandate; in this case that match was not as clear-cut as a majority of Decisions Crew members needed it to be.

King James

James being taken into custody after fascists told police to arrest him.

We know by now that fascists will do just about anything to further their agenda of bigotry and genocide, including (and we hope you’re sitting down for this one) lying to police in order to get anti-fascists arrested!

Such was the case for our man James in Portland. This past November, after fascist goons threatened to shoot up a Black Lives Matter event, James  attended to defend people from attack.  For his efforts, James got a short stay in the hospital after a far-right person bit him (!) + charges against him when four of the bad guys made up a story about him threatening them. 

The good news: he beat the charges and was exonerated.  The bad news: the fascists tracked him to his home and began an intense campaign of harassment and death threats.  They vandalized his truck multiple times, causing thousands of dollars in damage.  Things got so bad he was forced to break his lease and re-locate elsewhere, which cost him more moeny.  Add all this to his hospital bill + legal costs to beat his case = James needed some support.  

The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was well-pleased to make a contribution to James that took care of a significant chunk of these costs. James was evidently also pleased, telling us, “That’s incredible. You guys just saved my arse in the biggest way imaginable.”

The Defence Fund is honoured to be out there saving antifascists’ arses but we need your help to save future antifa arse! Make a contribution to the Defence Fund today!