Socialist Worker

Grief and anger after anti-racist killed in US—Trump has blood on his hands

President Donald Trump’s racism has fuelled the far right violence on the streets, writes Alistair Farrow

Issue No. 2567

An anti-racist was killed and 19 people injured in the US last Saturday after Nazi James Fields drove his car into crowds of protesters.

Heather D Heyer died after being hit by Fields while on a counter-demonstration against white nationalists and fascists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The far right came to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, a Confederate general.

The city council had voted for its removal.

Response

In response to the attack almost 700 vigils were called by anti-racists across the US.

People also came out in solidarity in Britain on Monday night (see below).

Hundreds attended a protest that marched on Trump Tower in New York.

“Around 300 people attended our protest against the violent and unforgivable acts,” Danilla Rumold from Albuquerque, New Mexico, told Socialist Worker.

“There were all races, ages and colours present.”

Some 100 people came out in Sacramento, California.

Sabrizio Sasso from the Sacramento Central Labor Council said, “We stand in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville and the rest of the country who are suffering right now.”

A photo appears to show Fields at the “Unite the right” event with members of Vanguard America, a Nazi organisation.

A rambling screed on its website predicts that “White Americans will have a new nation and that nation’s ideology will be fascism”.

Condemn

A former teacher of Fields told reporters that he had submitted work glorifying the role of the Nazi SS in the Second World War.

Racist, sexist US president Donald Trump failed to condemn the attack until 48 hours after it happened, initially pointing to violence “on many sides”. By delaying he has alienated himself from the majority of the Republican Party.

Trump’s virulently racist election campaign gave confidence to racists and Nazis across the US. Now he is caught between maintaining his base through racist rhetoric and appeasing his party—satisfying neither.

Three members of Trump’s business advisory panel have stepped down in protest. Meanwhile, ex Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said Trump should “take a good look in the mirror and remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency”.

James Fields (left) on the Unite the Right march with Vanguard America

James Fields (left) on the Unite the Right march with Vanguard America


Nazis

Saturday’s march was a national mobilisation for the US far right. The spread of groups calling for members to attend was very broad, from Nazis to softer elements (see below).

The Nazi website Daily Stormer urged its followers, “Daily Stormer Book Clubs should do everything they can to get their people out to this event.”

The Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) called for “all NSM members to be in Charlottesville”.

Saturday’s protest followed months of protests by the far right in response to Confederate statues and symbols being taken down in cities across the South. In July the Ku Klux Klan marched in Charlottesville, but were outnumbered by hundreds of counter protesters.

Similar, smaller protests have taken place in New Orleans, St Louis, and elsewhere.

As the far right gain confidence from Trump, anti-racists have shown that it is possible to organise against them. That’s more important now than ever.

Join the Stand Up To Trump protest at the US embassy in central London Saturday, 19 August. Starts at 12 noon, Grosvenor Square, W1A 2LQ. Go to bit.ly/2wMkLVI for details

Part of the vigil in London

Part of the vigil in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Solidarity vigils take place across Britain

Anti-racists and anti-fascists held vigils in solidarity with the victims of the far right violence in the US.

Around 130 people joined a vigil outside the US embassy in central London, called at short notice by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) on Monday evening.

UAF also held vigils in Cardiff, Cambridge, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh the same night.

More vigils were set to take place in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

The common message of the vigils was that a mass anti-fascist movement can stop the Nazis. Speaking in London Joint UAF secretary Weyman Bennet said, “The reason the Nazis attacked that demo was because that’s the way to stop them.”


Behind the far right’s rise

The attack and mobilisation in Charlottesville marks a dangerous high point in the development of Nazi and far right organisations in the US.

The demonstration was significantly called under the slogan “Unite the right”.

After Trump’s election last year Andrew Anglin from the fascist Daily Stormer website wrote, “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor.”

A wide spread of groups—from open Nazis to softer racists—fall loosely under the banner of the “alt right”. The Southern Poverty Law Centre lists 917 “hate groups” in the US.

Saturday’s mobilisation was organised by Jason Kessler of Unity and Security for America.

As the far right gains confidence and the mobilisations get bigger, the hard Nazi core has begun to emerge. On Saturday’s protest softer racist groups fell away, leaving that core remaining.

One reporter went round the far right demonstration asking people if they identified as “national socialist”, a significant number nodded in reply.

In response to Trump’s election many Nazi organisations, such as the National Socialist Movement, have changed their images and logos as the prospect of mainstream appeal becomes a reality.

Part of anti-fascists’ job is to expose Nazis for what they are and not allow them to gain the respectability that Trump’s election and rhetoric offers them.


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