Washington, DC, September 22 — Today, over 300 anti-racists confronted a dozen Nazi/Klan white supremacists. Only their 500-strong police escort saved them from severe beatings that would have discouraged them from future events. Protesters nevertheless drowned out their racist filth with militant anti-racist chants.
These racists rode into Lincoln Park on the anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This apparently deliberate attack on anti-racism echoed the 2006 KKK rally at Harper’s Ferry, the site of John Brown’s raid against slavery. Ironically, they arrived on a bus with a black driver and labeled Haymarket (the location of the 1886 protests that gave rise to May Day, the international working-class holiday).
PLP members distributed over 100 CHALLENGES and talked to anti-racist marchers about communism, free speech and the role of the police and capitalist state in perpetuating racism. Most agreed with a sign that declared “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech.” White supremacists use such rallies to recruit members to carry out violent attacks on blacks, Arabs or Latinos, but the militant opposition of multi-racial groups like this crowd make racists think twice about joining such racist gangs and slows their growth.
The crowd drowned out the Nazis’ feeble efforts to speak over their bullhorn. Then mounted park police, supported by regular DC police and motorcycle cops, led the Nazi parade down East Capitol Street. The anti-racist crowd would have none of that, and by consensus formed a human barricade across the street. We stopped the mounted cops, forcing the Nazis to stand in the horse manure behind them.
The top brass of the DC police began threatening arrests, and just before the arrests began, the protesters dissolved the barricade and re-formed it a block away. A PL’er gave a bold communist speech via the human mike (the crowd signifies agreement by repeating the speech) in the middle of the confrontation. The barricade scenario happened again, but this time, a brave young black man declared that he would not move, that he had lived in this neighborhood since he was three, and that no Nazi would march down his street.
PL’ers called on the protesters to come back from their next barricade and support this bold fighter, and they did. At this point, the mounted police used their horses as battering rams against the crowd of furious anti-Nazi protestors. The Nazis were able to continue marching, but protesters continued to harass them all the way to the Capitol building, drowning out their message with chants of “Death, death, death to the Nazis; Power, power, power to the workers!” The Nazis rallied briefly behind a phalanx of fully-equipped riot police serving as their personal bodyguards and then scurried off to their bus and left town.
Stopping the most extreme racists is critical in an atmosphere of intensifying racism and oppression in the U.S. and around the world. Any hint that extreme racism can function openly and boldly will encourage meeker racists to step up and bolster the ranks of the white supremacists. The result of such a process can only be racist murder and intimidation. We must strike first, and hard.
Despite the overall boldness of the rally, we missed the opportunity to stop the march and beat the Nazis senseless. This time we did not have a sufficient plan and were unprepared to attack (and risk arrests.) However, this was a learning experience for many of our newer comrades and our friends from the Occupy movement, who turned out in large numbers. PLP has an impressive history of bold physical confrontations with Nazis and the Klan. In fact, Klan leader Bill Wilkerson publicly declared in the 1980s that PLP was the main barrier they faced in building their movement. We will study the history of the ruling-class support for these Nazis and PL’s staunch opposition. Next time, we will be ready and the Nazis will be lucky to escape with their lives.
More War, More Racism
We should recall that the organized white supremacist movement in the U.S. in the 1930s included hundreds of thousands and was supported by the ruling class. When the U.S. ruling class wanted to win workers to fight fascism in the 1940s, they reduced their support for such racist groups to build a façade of anti-racism. Fighting Hitler at that time had become extremely profitable for U.S. bosses.
However, before World War II, Hitler had received support from U.S. companies such as Ford, GM and IBM in building his tanks, trucks and technologies — a fact omitted from history textbooks.
Today a veneer of anti-racism is part of the ideas pushed by U.S. bosses. But the deeper they lead us into wars around the world, the more racist terror they unleash both in the U.S. and worldwide. Arab workers locked up without trials after 9/11 and immigrant workers rounded up on the job and deported away from citizen children can attest to that.
As the economic crisis deepens we may see even more blatant racist attacks from both the state and gutter racists like the neo-Nazis, Klan and Minutemen. We must not let them get away with it. We have a world to win.