Make Berkeley a Fascist Free Zone!

May 19, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a Refuse Fascism organizer in the Bay Area, first posted at

The following is the speech I gave the Berkeley City Council on May 16. I got three minutes of time during the public comment period and was able to give about two thirds of it. We also distributed about 200 copies of it:

Make Berkeley a Fascist Free Zone!

Over the last few months, Berkeley has been targeted by a series of intellectual operatives for the Trump regime, Milo Yiannopoulos, who likes to pose with “white power” hand signs and was banned from Twitter for inciting racist and misogynist campaigns of harassment; David Horowitz who says Black people should be grateful for slavery; and most recently Ann Coulter who says immigration is leading to white genocide. And along with that, twice in April, hundreds of ready-to-brawl “alt-right” white supremacists, neo-Nazis, bikers and militia have rallied across the street from here. When Sunsara Taylor came to speak at Cal a week and a half ago on: Why it is right, and righteous, to drive fascists off campus, out of Berkeley, and out of power, a number of “alt right” people came to disrupt the event, and just two days ago at Revolution Books in Berkeley, 5 members of the “Proud Boys” white supremacist organization came to deface the store and disrupt an event.

Wake up Berkeley! There is a fascist regime in the white house, and pro-Trump fascist thugs are targeting Berkeley exactly because of its radical legacy, multiculturalism and progressive values. If they can make Berkeley bow down, it will greatly strengthen their ability to make the whole country accept new norms and bend to their will.

A few days ago in Charlottesville Virginia, in an act of KKK style intimidation, a bunch of these same “alt right” types held a torchlight rally to protest the dismantling of a Confederate statue. The next day, hundreds of people rallied to oppose this and the mayor said, in an interview in the New York Times today, “We have to speak out against this immediately. We have to repudiate it.”

What is Berkeley going to do in the face of this same fascist assault? Ignoring them won’t make them go away. In fact Milo Yiannopoulos is planning to be back at UC Berkeley in the Fall. These people are claiming the mantle of the free speech movement and claiming their free speech rights are being suppressed. This is nonsense. First of all, the Free Speech Movement was NOT about the “right” of fascists and racists to say whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want. It was about the right of students to be part of the fight against racism, to be part of the civil rights struggles at that time. And far from being persecuted or suppressed by the state for their ideas, the ideas of fascists like Milo and Ann Coulter are being imposed by the most powerful state in the history of humanity. Every day, the Trump/Pence regime is slamming ahead to implement precisely the kind of genocidal racism, women-hating cruelty, war-mongering ambitions, planet-destroying lies, and anti-immigrant ethnic-cleansing these “intellectual” hit-people promote. For them to claim “free speech” is truly laughable, while they support a fascist president that relentlessly attacks the press, and any judges that rule against his Muslim ban, that called for locking up and even assassinating his political opponent and incited violence against protesters at his rallies, and most recently that literally fired the head of the FBI that was investigating him. If Trump and his followers are not stopped, there will be no free speech allowed, no criticism or questioning of the fascist dictator.

Berkeley HAS to take a stand against this. Fascism is in power, and growing in the streets. We have to do what the German people did not do when fascism was on the rise in the early 1930s. And how can “sanctuary city” really mean anything if white supremacists can run amok, and the people and institutions are silent? We are working on a resolution for the Berkeley city council to take a stand, and like the mayor of Charlottesville said, to repudiate the fascist targeting of Berkeley. And we invite everyone here to be part of the campaign to create a fascist free Berkeley. In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America!

A number of people applauded after I spoke and a bunch asked for flyers afterwards. There was a large crowd that was there for a resolution to withdraw the city of Berkeley from a militaristic police training program called Urban Shield. So it was a friendly crowd.

After I spoke, an assistant to one of the council members followed me out and was very enthusiastic about working on a resolution. She is also in discussion with other council members and organizations about a big concert and a march, which she described as being in response to the targeting of Berkeley by these forces, and she wanted to involve us and liked the idea of an anti-Trump/anti-fascist march and concert. She thinks it’s B.S. that people like Milo and Ann Coulter are invoking “free speech,” because, as she put it, free speech doesn’t entitle you to a platform. Also, she thinks it’s important for a resolution to explicitly support people protesting fascism.

I also talked to a number of other very interested people. One Cal grad student, who didn’t come to the Sunsara Taylor event but watched half online and really liked it, raised the question of what would be an enforcement mechanism of a fascist-free Berkeley resolution, and whether the state would be involved (because he didn’t think it should). A Cal staffer that heard my speech and said he agreed, because what these fascists are spewing is “hate speech, which impacts people psychologically and emotionally, even if not physically. He also heard about the controversy around the Sunsara event, but didn’t go. I talked to a Cal student who was part of the Milo protest who was initially expressing her concern that protests be non-violent, but then when I presented the larger picture and stakes, challenged her false equation of the anti-fascists with the fascists, including in relation to the violence question, but also challenged her to act (non-violently) to stop fascism, she really agreed. A middle aged Berkeley guy who has seen Refuse Fascism at protests a number of times, read through the whole flyer on the spot, and said he’s been agonizing about what to do to actually prevent these fascists from coming to Berkeley. We talked about what it means to politically defeat them and for Berkeley to really become Berkeley again, and the interrelation between the battle for Berkeley and the fight to drive out the regime in power, which he said he found illuminating. He’s interested in getting involved with Refuse Fascism.

We are now working to finalize a draft of this resolution and get it to a number of people. We have to work with people in a collective way (to draw forward and represent the will of the best of Berkeley), but also make sure the statement maintains the core stance against the fascist targeting of Berkeley. And we are aiming to take this battle not just to the city council, but to all of Berkeley, and the whole society. The resolution is one vehicle to do that, which could very well become a major national flashpoint of the fight to stop the fascist remaking of this society.



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