Getting The Band Back Together: RCA Joins TORCH Network

Published on Nov 30, 2016

We are pleased to announce Rose City Antifa joined the TORCH Network, a national solidarity network of anti-fascist groups founded in 2013. For those unfamiliar with the history of our organization, Rose City Antifa (RCA) was created in 2007 and the same year joined the Anti-Racist Action (ARA) Network which was founded in 1988. When ARA was dissolved in 2013 and reformed as TORCH. RCA decided to go autonomous. However with the Trump election and a massive upsurge in fascist violence, we feel it is vital to once again coordinate antifascist resistance through a national network. The role of the TORCH network is thus best understood as an effort towards reinvigorating the network of anti-fascists that has been so important to stemming the tide of racist violence in this country. To better understand the vision of the current organization it is worth investigating the history of ARA and how a group of multi-racial skinheads in 1987 Minnesota known as “The Baldies” were able to lay the groundwork for contemporary anti-fascism in America by shutting down the Klan and Neo Nazis.

“[T]he Baldies actions went a long way to limiting the presence and organizing efforts of nazis in the Twin Cities areas, the Baldies realized that a successful drive against the nazis would mean having to form a broader group that appealed to kids other than just Skins. It would also have to have a larger, more diverse geographic area to stay ahead of the Fascists’ national organizing efforts. While this was going on, the west was experiencing it’s own surge in Antifascist activity. ARA chapters sprung up in Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Vancouver, even out into Front Range, Colorado. All these chapters were represented (and joined by Midwestern comrades) at the first network gathering, which was held in Portland, Oregon. (This gathering took place at the same time as the civil trial of White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger and his son John. The Metzgers were eventually found liable for their role in the murder of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant beaten to death by Portland boneheads in 1988.)

ARA took the “no platform” policy of Europe’s AFA (Anti-Fascist Action) in order to create as broad an appeal as possible among antifascists who might not see eye to eye on all things politically. The Minneapolis chapter inspired many chapters of ARA, where anarchists and feminists had tried to broaden the mandate of the early skinhead fighting crews. The Love and Rage Anarchist Federation also played a large role in the development of ARA as a political organization. Cues and strategies were borrowed from various other groups and movements and implemented in ARA’s policy of “expose, oppose, and confront,” as well as it’s commitment to Antifascist education and culture building.”

In light of Trump’s election, solidarity is important now more than ever. However, as anti-fascist organizing takes a greater role in leftist politics we feel that unity, not just in name but in terms of political agreement, is crucial to our success. Organizations like TORCH - which aims to bring the variety of anti-fascist strategies and tactics into a cohesive and supportive network - are integral to this project. Indeed as a growing number of individuals begin to claim the mantle of anti-fascism, it’s important that we not lose sight of the legacy of anti-racist organizing in the United States. Anti-fascism, in this case the work put into making our streets safe from Nazis, the Klan, and other racist groups may not be exclusive from electoral strategies aimed at keeping racists out of office, but it must not be confused with it either.

The legacy of antiracist organizing in the United States is a legacy of exposing, opposing, and confronting racist and fascist organizing whenever it takes place. Trump’s election has certainly led to a resurgence of the “anti-fascist” movement, yet much of it has centered on Trump himself, rather that the swelling ranks of dedicated white supremacist organizations. While the threat Trump poses to marginalized communities can not be overstated, ultimately what is needed is grassroots mobilizations around principles of community self-defense to keep our communities safe. In this regard, while  organizing demonstrations of support and solidarity are part of reminding communities they are safe, when they are not followed with the effort of actually making communities safer they tend to ring hollow.

It is not enough to claim to be anti-fascist, just like we know it’s not enough to say “I am anti-racist”. To adopt the label of the anti-fascist means to take on the legacies of the Partisans in Spain and Italy; the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) Network in the UK and Germany; the ARA in the United States. To do anti-fascist works means to commit to the tools of direct action, education, and mutual aid in getting the job done. We have chosen to use this announcement as an opportunity to share some of the history of the movement, out of the belief that folks that are being drawn to anti-fascism without much direction may benefit from learning more about the history of anti-racism internationally as they start this work. No Pasaran!