Social and traditional media has been foaming at the mouth since the announcement that the 82nd Avenue of the Roses Parade was canceled, at the behest of its organizing group, The 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association. But in the midst of the controversy, Rose City Antifa would like to make some facts clear:
One anonymous and absurd email making unclear threats of disruption, disavowed by the primary activist group planning to protest a group participating in the parade, was the only source of the “threat of violence” cited as reason for cancelling the entire parade.
Nevertheless, the Multnomah GOP, far right groups, and other disturbingly violent individuals online who support those organizations, have made countless threats and accusations blaming “activists” and “antifa” for the parade’s cancellation.
This overblown hysteria from the right is part of a rising wave. These elements of the extreme right claim to be supporting “free speech,” when in reality their main goal is directing violence and hate speech towards antifascist protesters and activists. They arrive at their rallies armed. They come prepared and willing to fight. And when they go unopposed they often turn to attack comunities of color and other minorities. They promote the most violent individuals amongst them, and cultivate hateful ideologies in the effort to “do battle” with everyday citizens, who they want to blame for the downfall of the country.
In fact, the numerous and diverse activists broadly known under the name “antifa” have only ever sought and stood for one thing: zero tolerance of white supremacists and fascist organizing in our communities. It is exactly these white supremacists that the far right is now rallying around in their hysteria against antifa. They believe that this violent hardcore is their strength, when it is an ugly rot within.
Never in history have the supporters of any elected president found it necessary to hold near-weekly rallies to “support” him. One might call people like Joey Gibson, the Youtube video personality who apparently organizes these rallies as a full time job, a simple shill. But there is a much more nefarious purpose. These rallies allow white supremacist and militia groups like the KKK, the National Socialist Movement, Identity Europa, the Proud Boys, the Bible Believers, the Oath Keepers, the III%, and the American Freedom motorcycle gang a place to rally, to organize, and to spread their violent rhetoric by word and deed. Many who attend these rallies are simply Trump supporters. But hiding amongst them are the worst kinds of violent racists, allowed to organize freely and lash out violently at those activists who will not accept their hatred in their communities. We have seen white supremacists gather in Lake Oswego, in Salem, in Berkeley, and now here in Portland.
Those activists who most stridently oppose white supremacists are easy scapegoats, because they are willing to undertake what others will not, to keep these white supremacists out of their communities. Their resolve has succeeded in driving violent racists out of many communities. It is predictable that such work is demonized and aggressively misrepresented by many parties.
Contrary to drummed up fears of “antifa” by opportunistic racists seeking to use the GOP as a shield, generic conservatives have never been a focus of anti-fascist organizing. Yet at the same time the GOP and the far right is clearly willing to tolerate violent white supremacist extremists at their rallies, in their parades, and on their stages, so long as it scores them political points. The mainstream media, all too often, is willing to buy into the right’s opportunism – gaining not a little in doing so themselves. And so they all rally around the fallacious call for “free speech,” even as those claiming to defend it lash out with weapons, organized hate, and plans for violent political uprising. Here, is a short and bitter taste of just the kind of person that the Multnomah GOP invites into its midsts, taken from relevant social media postings:
We have seen this sort of violence as a result of political opportunism before, and we will see it again. Activists will continue to fight it.
If you invite white supremacists into our communities, expect not to be welcome yourself.
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