Report from so-called Grand Rapids, Michigan, where antifascist groups held a successful mobilization against the Proud Boys.
Proud Boys in Michigan failed to materialize after promoting a purported vigil for victims of “Antifa, BLM, and Racist Mob Violence.” A call to action in the form of a digital flyer began circulation in early June stating Proud Boys would be organizing the event at the indigenous Ah-Nab-Awen Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, encouraging a mobilization of various organizations and community members to counter the self-described Western Chauvinist organization.
Good job Grand Rapids. Proud boys came to our city, saw us, and left. Nazi punks fuck off pic.twitter.com/M8v4bLV4GV
— Ryab (@ryab_overholt) July 10, 2021
The event was supposed to begin at noon on Saturday July 10th, though a local indigenous group called Bimose Ode, Socialist Alternative Grand Rapids, and various other groups and counter-protesters arrived earlier in the morning to occupy the park before the Proud Boy event could start. Over the course of the day, somewhere around 100 counter-protestors made their way to the park to hold space and confront any Proud Boys who may show up. Underwhelming many people’s expectations, only two would-be Proud Boys appeared, one carrying a United States flag and the other wearing a Proud Boys t-shirt. They were confronted and left without incident.
More counter protestors showing up as of 11:50. Id say anywhere from 35-50 people have assembled.
— Jay Shatara WWMT (@JShataraTV) July 10, 2021
Around 1 p.m. after organizers were confident there wouldn’t be further provocation, impromptu speeches were given condemning the desecration of indigenous lands by white supremacists, rejecting the police state, and encouraging communities to come together against the various forms of oppression they face. The speeches were met with cheers from the counter-protesters while curious community members approached as they walked through the park. Counter-protesters remained in the park for an hour after the speeches, socializing with each other, admiring the labor fountain, and ensuring the Proud Boys had been effectively dismissed.
While the police were prepared for a fight with bike cops deployed, multiple squad cars and at least one bearcat on standby, they mostly did “routine” surveillance and otherwise chose to remain distant and hands-off.
After removing the threat of Proud Boys the energy at the Ah-Nab-Awen Park was victorious and encouraging. It was a beautiful day to stand in solidarity with comrades across the state, to support one another, and to reject white chauvinism.