April 8, 2021
From It's Going Down
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Welcome fellow antifascists!

We’ve got a lot to go over this week. There’s been a lot of talk about the seemingly poorly organized “White Lives Matter” rallies happening this Sunday, and we’ve got updates, both on the side of the far-Right and antifascist and anti-racist rallies called in opposition. We’ve also got news on last week’s anti-Klan mobilization in Indiana, anti-racists stealing a Confederate monument and turning it into a toilet, legal threats to Unicorn Riot, the GOP’s continued march to the far-Right, and the growth of Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network, which is building a bridge between far-Right street fighters and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in!

News

KKK Flyers Orange County in Support of “White Lives Matter” Rally; Protests Draw Online Support from Proud Boys; Antifascists Call for Opposition

As we previously reported, their remains a low-level of chatter around potential “White Lives Matter” rallies being called for on Sunday, April 11th. White supremacists using the Telegram app began planning these rallies two weeks ago, which were brought to light by the Institute for Research on Human Rights in an article that lays out the names of the city-specific channels and how many members are active in each channel. Jordan Greene now reports that members of the pro-Trump street gang, the Proud Boys, are writing in these online forums that they want to support the demonstrations. Despite their roots in paleconservatism and their strong connections to white nationalism, the Proud Boys have gone to great lengths to (poorly) distance themselves from being perceived as racist. Their support of and participation in planning efforts on Telegram effectively take their poorly fitting “I-swear-I’m-not-a-racist” mask all the way off. Alternet reports:

In a channel set up for the DC-Maryland-Virginia region, two self-identified Proud Boys users eagerly talked up the rally. Others in the chat openly identified as white nationalists through their words, usernames or catchphrases in their Telegram bios. “I am a Fascist,” wrote a user named “James Dagny,” who also shared a documentary about American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell in the chat. A user named “Blaine” chose the Nazi slogan “Blood & Soil” for their bio. Someone whose username celebrates the gas used by the Nazis to murder Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust, wrote, “I’m in.”

The SPLC has written about the use of the White Lives Matter (WLM) slogan by a variety of white nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations in the past several years. According to the report:

Since 2015, WLM flyers, reading “It’s Not Racist to Love Your People” and carrying the hashtag #whitelivesmatter, have been posted on bathroom walls, light posts and bus stops from Utah to Connecticut. Some incorporate language about black-on-white crime, a reminder of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens website that is obsessed with the same topic and inspired the racist 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., by Dylann Roof.

Other racist groups that have joined the movement include the Golden State Skins, a racist skinhead group that says it distributed WLM flyers around Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 6, 2015.

Melissa Dennis, a California woman who is a contact for the Noble Breed Kindred racist group, has designed and sold WLM T-shirts and stickers to raise funds for other racist groups. She joined a “flyer drop” where activists distributed WLM propaganda on Jan. 9, 2016, as part of what was billed as a national anti-Muslim event. (On the same day, Billy Roper, a well-known racist leader, pasted up flyers in Harrison, Ark.) Dennis also sold WLM T-shirts at a June 25, 2016, Aryan Nationalist Alliance meeting in Salem, Ohio, according to a web posting.

As of this reporting, it appears that many of the potential White Live Matter rallies are poorly organized. In some cities, the announcement of White Lives Matter events has also been coupled with flyering by KKK groups, such as in Orange County, California. According to the Los Angeles Times

Huntington Beach residents received an unwelcome surprise on Easter morning: Fliers featuring Ku Klux Klan propaganda peppered a block of 18th Street in downtown.

“White Lives Do Matter,” one flier said above an image of the Klan’s emblem. “Say no to cultural genocide.”

A resident filed a report with the Huntington Beach Police Department about 7 a.m. Sunday, Lt. Brian Smith said. But it wasn’t just the words and images that alarmed locals — it’s what the pamphlets were promoting: a “White Lives Matter” rally scheduled in Huntington Beach for April 11.

Despite the fact that some of these events may not take place, given the history of violence from the Proud Boys and other groups, we want to encourage folks who are going to a counter-demonstration to stay safe and remain vigilant. Do not show up alone, stay in groups, and protect each other. Also, if it appears that “White Lives Matter” is a bust in your area, what better time to hand out flyers, drop a banner, and slap up some anti-racist and antifascist stickers in your area!

Currently there are public calls to mobilize against these demonstrations in several cities, see more info here.

Anti-racist Group Gives the “Lost Cause” a Courtesy Flush

An anti-racist group calling itself “White Lies Matter” took credit for stealing a Confederate monument priced at $500,000 from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group which has worked to popularize the “Lost Cause” myth, place up Confederate statues throughout the US, and promote the “Southern cause” as centered around “State’s rights” and not slavery.

According to AL.com:

[A] group calling itself White Lies Matter say they stole the chair from the Old Live Oak Cemetery and are demanding that the UDC hang a large banner at 1 p.m. on Friday — the anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender in the Civil War — and leave it there for 24 hours.

The banner bears a quote from Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army activist wanted by the FBI for the 1973 murder of a New Jersey state trooper: “The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.”

Members of White Lies Matter stated that if the banner was not placed up, they would turn the chair into a toilet. According to a post from a reporter at the Washington Post, anti-racist activists stayed true to their word, and claimed to have used a Confederate flag to wipe.

KKK No Shows in Auburn, Indiana as Antifascists and Anti-Racists Mobilize Across the Region

Hundreds of antifascists and anti-racists rallied in Auburn, Indiana after KKK flyers were distributed around the region stating that the white supremacist group was going to hold a rally. Around 200 people gathered outside of the local courthouse in opposition, the local Food Not Bombs collected food for a food drive, and speakers addressed the crowd. News outlets and some liberals made a big deal out of a small number of counter-protesters carrying arms in self-defense on the outskirts of the demonstration. Local news reports that several trucks carrying Confederate flags drove by the demonstration, but did not engage the crowd.

One antifascist account wrote online:

In Auburn, Indiana, the KKK held a “white unity meet and greet,” hidden away on private property. But antifascists from all over the Midwest came to support the community in standing up against racist terror. Comrades met, bonds formed, fires lit. Always Antifascist!

Unicorn Riot Subpoenaed by Energy Transfer after Covering Protests Against Dakota Access Pipeline

Last week our comrades at Unicorn Riot were subpoenaed by big energy giant Energy Transfer, who are responsible for the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Unicorn Riot is one of many organizations who are being targeted by Energy Transfer, for their involvement in covering water protectors and the protests that occurred in response to the installation of the DAPL pipeline through sacred indigenous lands and burial sites. This type of attack on smaller, autonomous media organizations by major corporations is meant to stifle these groups by draining their time, energy, and resources.

Energy’s Transfer reported 2019 revenue is $5 billion. Unicorn Riot and other organizations reporting on and defending water protectors are working on a budget that is substantially less. According to The Intercept, Energy Transfer’s subpoena states:

Energy Transfer claimed it sustained $300 million in damages, a total that could translate into triple the penalties — nearly $1 billion — under the federal law called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.

Energy Transfer is not just asking for footage of Unicorn Riot’s reporting, but also names of it’s reporters and donors. This is a massive attack on Unicorn Riot’s first amendment protections and a threat to grassroots journalism everywhere. The Intercept details this attack stating:

Through a series of expensive conspiracy lawsuits against a disparate range of actors, the pipeline company has sought to paint the Standing Rock movement as the product of a vast misinformation-driven conspiracy to damage Energy Transfer.

Now, as part of that effort, Energy Transfer is demanding Unicorn Riot turn over virtually any documents, video footage, audio, article drafts, and communications related to the firm and its pipeline. The subpoena also sought information about the nonprofit’s organizational structure, social media accounts, and names of employees, volunteers, and supporters. Niko Georgiades, who was among the Unicorn Riot reporters covering Standing Rock, was separately subpoenaed.

We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds and vigorously support the efforts of our comrades at Unicorn Riot and other organizations putting their lives and livelihoods on the line to cover grassroots and autonomous movements.

GOP Continues to Move Further and Further to far-Right Following Trump’s Defeat

The American Independent did a breakdown of GOP groups and individuals across the country who have doubled down in their far-Right stance since Trump has left office. They indicate that though some hoped that after Trump’s departure from the White House, perhaps the GOP would get back to conservative business as usual sans conspiracy theories about election and voter fraud or language that panders to QAnon followers, that does not seem to be the case.

In Arizona, Kelli Ward (twice-failed Senate candidate) led efforts to censure Cindy McCain, former Senator Jeff Flake, and Governor Doug Ducey for speaking out against disgraced former President Donald Trump following the January 6 White Riot. The American Independent reports:

Arizona Republicans have wholeheartedly embraced multiple election conspiracies. Even after the state’s electors had cast their ballots for President Joe Biden, who flipped the formerly Republican state into the Democratic column, Ward tweeted, “This election is far from over.”

In Florida, Gov. Rick DeSantis has pushed for fining social media companies in response to the removal of Donald Trump’s profiles following the White Riot. In addition:

As of early March, according to the website of Treasure Coast Newspapers, at least 10 of the official websites of county-level Republican organizations in Florida still had Trump listed as the current president, including that of the GOP in Miami-Dade County.

In Hawaii, Vice Chairman of the Hawaiian Republican Party Edwin Boyette has tweeted out support and sympathies toward QAnon followers:

“We should make it abundantly clear — the people who subscribed to the Q fiction, were largely motivated by a sincere and deep love for America. Patriotism and love of County (sic) should never be ridiculed,” Boyette wrote.

Representative Dallas Heard of Oregon has deep connections to armed anti-government militia groups including Citizens Against Tyranny, an antimask/COVID-19 denying militia. Heard has also visited the militia leader Ammon Bundy, head of the People’s Rights network, a collection of anti-vaxxers, COVID conspiracy theorists, and anti-maskers.

Allen West, Chairman of the Texas Republican Party has openly suggested that Texas secede from the United States when it was clear that Biden’s election win would not be overturned. West also has connections to Oath Keeper’s militia leader Stuart Rhodes. West has spoken at anti-immigration events and blamed “the Chinese” for Biden’s win, contributing to the spread of racist conspiracy theories.

Finally, the Wyoming Republican Party voted in February to censure Liz Cheney, despite her conservative voting record because she spoke out in support of former President Trump’s impeachment.

As the GOP loses support outside of its shrinking base, it continues to double-down on Trumpism by promoting white identity politics and conspiracy theories, while putting faith in attacking and suppressing voting rights in an effort to ensure continued electoral victories while building bridges into the openly fascist and authoritarian grassroots Right.

Virginia State Police Lied to State Representatives About Their Use of Clearview AI’s Face Recognition Technology

According to the Virginia-Pilot, members of Virginia State Police force have been using the highly controversial and unethical Clearview AI face recognition technology in their investigations, despite having reported not doing so. State Police told The Virginian-Pilot last year that they were not using the technology. The Pilot requested a records release which should have shown emails between State Police and Clearview AI. “The agency turned no such emails.”

However:

And in February of this year, a lawmaker said the governor’s top public safety adviser told her State Police were not using Clearview and never had. Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, said Brian Moran, the secretary of public safety and homeland security, gave her that assurance Feb. 9.

But it wasn’t true. On Friday, after another question from The Pilot, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller confirmed four investigators had used Clearview with free trial accounts for five months, from September 2019 through February 2020. Two other investigators signed up for accounts but never used them.

Geller was not forthcoming about just how many investigations were facilitated by the use of Clearview AI’s technology. Last Monday, Aird expressed shock and concern over the persistent and continued denial of the agency’s use of the facial recognition program, indicating more concerns about what else the agency and it’s members might be hiding. Aird also introduced legislation to ban the use of facial recognition programs by law enforcement agencies, however, this would not include Virginia State Police. She indicated that she was hoping to amend the legislation to include Virginia State Police before the bill goes to the Governor Ralph Northam’s desk to either be signed or vetoed or returned with proposed amendments.

The program’s free trial is incredibly easy to download as long as the person registering it is using an email connected to a law enforcement agency. Clearview AI has aggressively marketed their program to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and according to a New York Times investigation, has been used by 6000 agencies between January 2019 and January 2020. Another alarming fact about this and other facial recognition technology is the lack of unilateral legislation protecting communities and preventing it’s use by law enforcement, essentially requiring each individual local or state government to piecemeal legislation together and only once it’s been discovered that agencies are using it and harm has been done.

Organizations like Media Justice, Access Now, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been on the forefront of the fight against big surveillance technology. Cities and states like Oakland, San Francisco and the state of Illinois have fought vigorously to keep surveillance tech out of their spaces but the fight continues. The technology is being developed and implemented faster than legislation and ordinances can be drafted and signed into law. Our coverage of this fight continues.

London Cop Convicted of Terrorism Charges Following Antifascist’s Iron March Leaks

A Metropolitan Police officer from North London has been convicted for his membership in the neo-Nazi organization National Action, making him the first British officer convicted of a terrorism-related offense. Benjamin Hannam, 22, was identified thanks to an antifascist data hack of the Iron March forum in late 2019.

Hannam denied his involvement in order to secure his job as a probation officer with the Metropolitan Police in 2018, but just a few years prior he was very active on Iron March, posting one photo of himself vandalizing a storm drain with the National Action logo, and another that depicted him wearing a Nazi uniform and drawn-on Hitler mustache. One post featured an image of Hannam boxxing with other member of the group, proving that he met and trained with other dangerous neo-Nazis in person. Authorities say that he also attended group meetings and helped recruit new members.

Hannam also plead guilty to “possessing a prohibited image of a child.” He has been suspended from the department pending his April 23rd sentencing hearing.

Hate Crime Charges Recommended for Relative of Local Police Officer Who Threatened Black Students

Snohomish County Sherrif’s detective have concluded an investigation into a Lake Stevens resident who posted a racist death threat to the Facebook page of a Marysville student. In January, the man posted a Snapchat image of a white-skinned hand gripping a pistol with the caption, “Killing minorities soon.” According to the NAACP of Snohomish County, the person responsible for the original Snapchat post also made violent threats against Black students at the school just one month prior, and still remains in the class where the incident occurred. According to The Herald, the sheriff’s department took on the investigation “because the suspect is a close relative of a city police officer.”

Ammon Bundy Case Goes to Mediation, Supporters Protest Outside of Magistrate Judge’s Home

The state of Idaho will be entering mediation this month with Ammon Bundy, leader of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation in 2016. Bundy was arrested several times since the beginning of the pandemic, beginning on August 25th 2020. when he led anti-mask protests at the Idaho State Capitol and disrupted the Idaho legislature’s hearings. He was arrested again at the capitol building for criminal trespass the following day. Bundy was recently arrested again on March 15th for missing trial due to the fact that he refused to wear a mask inside the courthouse.

Mediation is set to begin on April 26th, according to an order by Magistrate Judge David Manweiler issued at a status conference on Friday. Magistrate Judge Gregory Kalbfleisch will oversee the process. The Idaho Statesman noted that Bundy walked out of the status conference early.

It is equally absurd and unsurprising that the government continues to handle this Sovereign Citizen insurgent with kid gloves. Ammon Bundy, his father Clive, and his brother Ryan were found not guilty of conspiracy following the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016. They won another surprise victory in 2018 when charges of assault, firearms offenses, obstruction, and anti-government threats were dismissed following an armed conflict over cattle grazing fees at their Nevada ranch in 2014.

On Saturday, a group of Bundy’s supporters, including Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, gathered to protest the charges outside of Judge Manweiler’s home in Boise. The prosecution has stated that they are unsure whether Bundy will comply with mediation, and this protest at the judge’s home does not bode well for the future. Bundy has also built up a hardcore network of support in the post-COVID world, forming the People’s Rights network. According to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights:

Seizing on COVID-19 anxiety, Ammon Bundy and his allies have cultivated a dangerous new network of militia members, anti-maskers, conspiracists, preppers, anti-vaxxers, and others into an army of followers—Ammon’s army.

Instead of a more traditional “anti-government” narrative, People’s Rights leaders have expressed a desire for governmental power to be used to protect the “righteous” against “wicked” liberals, antifa, Black Lives Matter activists, and others. Several People’s Rights leaders are running for elected office—to become the government. Absent that sort of intervention, leaders have proposed a type of armed enclave-style “neighborhood” nationalism, where “righteous” neighbors stand against the “wicked.” People’s Rights leaders have often defined the “wicked” using far-right conspiracism, racism, antisemitism, anti-indigenous, and anti-transgender sentiment.

Initially, much of the core of what became People’s Rights grew out of ties developed during the Bundy family’s armed confrontations with the federal government and/or their subsequent court cases.  Some of these core activists became engaged in these networks around the time of Cliven Bundy’s 2014 Bunkerville standoff, including Nevada state leader Joshua Martinez, Utah Area 9 assistant Shawna Cox, Utah Area 10 assistant Raul Hevia, and Washington State Area 2 assistant Tammy Hill.

Others were involved in Ammon’s takeover of the Oregon wildlife refuge. Utah Area 9 assistant Shawna Cox, Idaho Area 2 assistants Sean and Sandra Anderson, and Utah figure Brand Thornton were all directly involved in the Malheur takeover. Oregon state leader BJ Soper organized in connection to the occupation through the Pacific Patriot Network.

Others either directly mobilized or became engaged online on behalf of LaVoy Finicum, killed by police during the standoff, or during post-Malheur Bundy family trials.

Contrasting the legal system’s treatment of Bundy and his associates with their treatment of anti-capitalist, environmentalist, and anti-colonial revolutionaries, BIPOC in particular, proves that the justice system operates entirely differently for different people. Bundy and his family members, all white men, faced no consequences for taking up arms against the federal government after illegally grazing cattle on BLM land for two decades. In contrast, Philadelphia police bombed an entire city block in 1985 in retaliation against the Black radical organization MOVE, killing 11 people, including 5 children, and leaving 250 people without homes. While antifascist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist organizers face intense levels of state repression and violence, Bundy has continued to embolden and organize others in the far-Right militia movement.

White Riot Updates

Jack Whitton Jr. Arrested for Assaulting Officer on J6

Jack Jade Whitton Jr. of Locust Grove, GA was arrested on Thursday for his participation in the January 6th riot. According to reporting by AJC, Whitton was at the front of the crowd clashing with police at the West Terrace entrance of the building. Video footage shows him using a crutch as a weapon to break up the police line, and attacking an officer who had fallen to the ground. Whitton is charged with assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon.

Stewart Rhodes and Stone’s Oath Keeper Security Guards In Communication During Capitol Siege

According to the Washington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his deputy exchanged 19 phone calls with the militia members tasked with serving as Roger Stone’s security during the early hours of the January 6th coup attempt in Washington D.C. A new indictment names Roberto Minuta and Joshua James among twelve Oath Keeps charged with conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for their roles in the riot, linking them to Rhodes and an individual referred to as “Person 10,” who is believed to have been appointed by Rhodes to lead the group’s operations. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison. While Rhodes himself has not been charged, he recently stated at a rally thay he thought he may be arrested soon “for made-up crimes.”

The indictment did not mention the contents of the phone calls, but did note their timing and duration. Prosecutors noted that Rhodes send orders to regional Oath Keepers leaders via Signal group chats, and that he spoke to Kelly Meggs of Florida just minutes before Meggs helped lead a group in breaking in to the east side of the Capitol. The Washington Post article contains several more examples of coordination between Rhodes, Person 10, and the individuals named in the indictment. The full document can be read here.

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