By David Sole
New York City was the scene of fascist gangs violently attacking protesters on October 12. It was widely reported that demonstrators outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club on Manhattan’s upper east side were brutally assaulted by several dozen members of the ultra-rightwing Proud Boys group after they attended a meeting featuring Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. The Southern Poverty Law Center also identified members of several skinhead groups who joined the Proud Boys’ attack.
As the Proud Boys spilled into the streets to attack counter-protesters, their leader, McInnes, brandished a sword. He had announced that the sword celebrated the 1960 murder of Japanese Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma during a televised debate in Japan by fascists. McInnes was not arrested for brandishing this weapon.
Proud Boys members were caught on camera beating people while shouting anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant epithets. The fascist gang stayed around long enough to take a group photo. New York City police stood by while the attacks proceeded, only intervening to arrest three anti-fascists after the incident.
The following day, October 13, Proud Boys marched and beat progressive activists in Portland, Oregon. Just a few months ago, a militant crowd in Oakland, California, marched to the site where Proud Boys had announced a meeting of their group. The meeting was set for July 23, only one day after a white assailant had killed Nia Wilson and wounded her sister at a train station in Oakland. The victims were African-American and the assault was described as the act of a white supremacist.
Earlier, on June 23, several Proud Boys showed up in Detroit, Michigan, at a demonstration against the Trump administration’s separation of children from their undocumented parents. The Proud Boys walked up and down along the picket line of 150 people, taunting and baiting protesters. Demonstration security teams closely followed the fascists. It was thought that the Proud Boys were looking to provoke a fight that would have given the police reason to break up the large anti-Trump protest.
Behind the fascist violence
The pre-election and post-election rhetoric of President Donald Trump has clearly emboldened racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and outright fascist elements.
Trump’s defense of the fascists who beat progressive protesters and killed anti-fascist Heather Heyer on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, has given these reactionary thugs a green light to organize ever-bolder attacks.
Most liberals have faulted the New York City police department for its failure to curb the fascist attacks, but this is not an aberration. The same disregard for the rights of progressives and the masses of poor and working people can be seen over and over again. In fact, the police are the agents of the state apparatus and the state is the tool of the ultra-rich ruling class.
Fascist organizations have always served the interests of the ruling elite, whether it be in 1930s Germany or today in the United States. Sometimes the fascists are given hidden support and sometimes the support is more open — but in either case it is meant to keep a “rabid dog” in reserve in order to attack and intimidate a potentially revolutionary movement which might threaten the rule of the bankers and corporate bosses.
Progressive and revolutionary organizations should not rely on the police forces, whether they are local, state or federal. Organizers of progressive demonstrations must look to forming united fronts with other progressive forces and take more seriously the formation of capable defense teams that can effectively guard meetings, picket lines and rallies against surprise attacks by fascist gangs.