Wednesday on Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley:

Refuse Fascism, Students Confront Fascist Provocateurs... and the Urgency of Struggling for November 4

September 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

The Berkeley Patriots, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other fascists had planned today, September 27, as the wrap-up of a four-day blitzkrieg of pro-Trump white supremacist, alt-right, fascist speakers whose aim was to legitimize and normalize fascism in the name of “free speech,” while attempting to terrorize and intimidate the campus community and beyond.

The fascist “free speech” week got cancelled, but alt-right Nazis, white supremacists, and fascist thugs had still descended on campus. Today the Patriot Prayer group announced they would be on campus, and they were met with a determined protest. About 20 people, Refuse Fascism, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and others, did a speak-out on the steps of Sproul Plaza in the face of about 50 howling “alt-right” fascists.  

Four activists with Refuse Fascism, including two UC Berkeley (“Cal”) alumni, took these fascists on, drawing the connection between the thugs who have been terrorizing Berkeley and the fascist regime in the White House that is terrorizing immigrants, Muslims, LGBT, women, all humanity, and the planet. They talked about why Berkeley is being targeted by these fascist forces and denounced the role of the university and police in collaborating with them. And they argued that this fascism must be rooted out from the top—that the Trump/Pence regime must go—and announced plans for November 4.

One of the Cal alumni talked about Berkeley’s proud legacy of fighting oppression, including how she slept on Sproul Plaza during the anti-South African apartheid struggle. Another activist with Refuse Fascism talked about the importance of students being critical thinkers and learning the lessons of the history of fascism so as not to repeat that history.

After yammering on and on about “free speech” the fascists did everything they could to try and disrupt the speak-out, standing right in front of the protesters, holding up American flags, chanting “USA, USA,” even singing “We Shall Overcome.” Refuse Fascism and others responded with “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” and held the steps of Sproul Plaza for an hour, with probably 100 people looking on until riot cops pushed most everyone out of the Plaza.

It was sickening to watch the fascists operate. While some were trying to disrupt and shout down the protest, others were being nicey-nicey, talking to students one-on-one as if they were just there to share ideas, hiding the horrors their movement threatens billions with, normalizing fascist discourse. 

I heard one of the Patriot Prayer leaders talking with several Black students, trying to cover up and normalize his fascist shit with talk about how he doesn’t believe “make America great again,” but making America “better and better,” how “we’ve all got to come together,” and at one point saying, “I agree they’re pumping drugs into [ghettos] so the system is rigged, but it’s not because it’s racist.” And this double-talk and pretense of “free speech” was confusing some of the students I talked with. All the while, Infowars and other fascist outlets were filming, collecting information on the students and protesters, organizing, and inciting their audience against the students and campuses.

But then their shit jumps out. One fascist hurled a misogynist, homophobic slur about an opponent’s “man-gina.” 

A bit later, a number of fascists tried to worm and bully their way into the semi-walled-off space in front of the Golden Bear Café near the Plaza to disrupt and insult a gathering of some 100 or more Black students who were celebrating “Black Wednesday.” 

In an ugly display of threatening white supremacy and racism, Kyle Chapman, one of the leading alt-right goons who has attacked protesters in Berkeley, tried to push his way into this space where he clearly wasn’t welcome, while live-streaming his action. But he was righteously blocked off by a multi-national wall of some 40 or 50 students—some holding signs with the Cal slogan “This Is Bear Territory,” only with “Bear” crossed out and replaced by “Indian.”

Chapman demanded entry, saying he’s not moving, this was America and there was no territory where “people”—i.e., white people—couldn’t go. He tried to compare the students blocking his racist ass to white settlers who refused to let Native Americans go where they wanted, and complained to one media outlet that right-wing thought was being “violently suppressed.” But people weren’t having it, and were right up in Chapman’s face chanting “Black lives matter, Black lives matter,” one holding a sign “Hatred—There’s Nothing to Debate!” And Chapman was forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Black students were facing off with other white supremacist provocateurs on another side of the area. Black students chanted, “Black people! Black people! Black people!” and at one point a booming “Fuck Trump!”

In talking to some of the students, I found they had a clear understanding that these Nazis were white supremacists who, as one Black student put it, “don’t want us here.” But that student didn’t see the bigger picture of the fascist character and direction of the Trump/Pence regime—and its potentially genocidal implications for Black people and others. Chapman’s action was white supremacist to be sure, but it was much more than that: it was one example of the reality that these fascists are determined to “barge into,” break down, and  attempt to reshape every corner of this society—under their horrific, nightmarish domination. So it remains a crucial challenge to engage and struggle with students over these issues, and win them to urgently take up the battle to organize and build for November 4 and driving out this whole fascist regime. 



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