US anti-racists are organising against the Nazis and far right who have been bolstered by Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn them.
Thousands of people have joined vigils for anti-racist Heather Heyer across the US. Heyer died after Nazi James Fields drove into protesters opposing a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.
At the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, thousands gathered to pay their respects to Heyer on Wednesday.
More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the same day under the banner “Philadelphia is Charlottesville”. And as Trump returned to Trump Tower in New York on Monday, over a thousand came out to greet him.
Nicole from Boston Feminists for Liberation joined a 300-strong vigil in Boston on Tuesday evening. “We honoured Heather's memory and stood out in solidarity with all antifascists, leftists, and activists who stood up to the white supremacists,” she told Socialist Worker.
But the far right are also mobilising in the wake of Charlottesville.
After rowing back on blaming violence “on many sides”, on Wednesday Trump doubled down. He said, “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.
“No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”
The Nazis know that they have got a friend in the White House.
The lack of a more “respectable” parliamentary wing among US fascist groups means that they have been isolated. They use openly antisemitic rhetoric when their European counterparts, such as the French Front National, are more cautious.
US Nazis see Trump as a more respectable face to legitimise their racism and violence in the mainstream.
But Trump was forced to fire key adviser, the racist Steve Bannon yesterday, Friday. Over the last week he has come under increasing pressure from the Republican Party leadership and has seen business leaders abandon White House committees.
A racist demonstration this Saturday called under the slogan “Boston Free Speech Rally” is expected to meet fierce resistance. Boston mayor Marty Walsh had initially opposed the demo, but the city council voted for it to go ahead.
Nicole said, “We made sure that people knew the fascists were coming here and that we needed to be prepared.
“We are expecting thousands of principled Bostonians on the streets this weekend.”
Other organisations, such as the local Black Lives Matter chapter, are also mobilising and expect as many as 20,000 people to come out against the far right.
One speaker due to attend the racist rally, Joe Biggs from Austin, Texas, said, “If 10,000 lefties murder me, then so be it.”
The Charlottesville protest—and its fallout—have polarised people in the US.
The liberal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come under fire for defending the Nazi demonstration’s organisers in court on the basis of their freedom of speech. Tens of thousands have rejected the liberalism that the ACLU’s decision is based on, coming out to directly confront racists and fascists.
In Seattle a far right demonstration was met by hundreds of anti-racists last Sunday. The protest, called by the Patriot Prayer group under the banner of “Christian Values” could only muster dozens of racists.
Across the US there are some 700 Confederate statues. The Nazi mobilisation in Charlottesville was nominally to protest the city council’s decision to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E Lee.
The statue is still standing.
But anti-racists aren’t waiting for politicians to decide to take statues down. Protesters tore down a Confederate soldiers monument in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday. Seven people were arrested for their participation in the demonstration.
The raw anger unleashed by the Nazi rampage in Charlottesville has the potential to feed into the movement to topple Trump.