11 March 2016
Defend Anti-Fascist Protesters!
Klan Provocation Stopped
An integrated crowd of dozens of anti-fascists, including anarchists and supporters of Progressive Labor Party (PLP), stopped the Ku Klux Klan’s “White Lives Matter” anti-immigrant provocation in Anaheim, California’s Pearson Park on February 27. From the start, the race terrorists were out for blood. A protester explained in a February 27 interview on YouTube that when protesters approached the Klansmen, the KKK pulled out weapons. One Klansman stabbed at anti-fascists with a pointed flagpole flying an American flag. Protesters defended themselves and drove off the Klan, but not before the KKKers had stabbed three protesters, sending them to the hospital.
The police, who had been “observing” from the far side of the park, came to escort Klansmen away and crack down on the protesters. Six Klansmen and seven protesters were arrested. The lawyer for three arrested protesters later reported that the cops broke the arm of one of his clients, noting that, in contrast, the police “are very polite and civil to these KKK guys, who have stabbed three people” (Los Angeles Times, 29 February). The arrested KKKers were quickly released on the pretense that they had acted in self-defense. Not so the anti-fascists, who were jailed for three days and threatened with bogus felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon—and elder abuse, because one of the Klan thugs was over 65 years old! One protester remains in jail on what police claim is an unrelated matter.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is pursuing an investigation to determine what charges to file against the anti-fascists. The Anaheim Police Department put a wanted poster on its Facebook page of a black man alleged to have kicked one of the fascists. The poster evokes the antebellum notices used in hunting down runaway slaves and is an incitement to racist vigilantism, listing the names and cities of residence of the arrested anti-KKK activists. It’s clear whose side the cops and the D.A. are on. The labor movement, the left and all the KKK’s intended victims must demand: Hands off the anti-fascist protesters!
In what might as well be a brief for the prosecution, Brian Levin, an ex-cop who runs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, has been widely quoted vilifying the protesters. Levin, who says he attended the Klan rally to do research, boasts of single-handedly rescuing the “Grand Dragon” and grotesquely paints the race terrorists as victims. Just one day after the Klan attempted to rally in Anaheim, white supremacists in the L.A. County backwater of Lake Los Angeles attacked a group of Latinos with knives while screaming “Heil Hitler” and waving the Confederate flag. Nonetheless, the press has seized on Levin’s statements to smear the Anaheim anti-fascist protesters for supposedly promoting hate and violence.
In the same spirit, Anaheim’s Republican mayor Tom Tait, Democratic Party politicians, community groups and churches held a “peace walk” and candlelight vigil in Pearson Park on February 29. Condemning violence (by the protesters) and preaching tolerance (for the Klan), the rally represented an attempt to promote passivity in the face of Klan terror. A fascist watching the vigil clearly understood the message as he flaunted his “white power” and swastika tattoos. The same day, a Los Angeles Times editorial insisted that the fascists have a right to police protection and intoned, “We all have the right to ignore the antics of a fringe hate group.”
For working people and the oppressed to ignore white supremacist terror will allow the fascist threat to fester and grow, with more deadly consequences. The fascist vermin are race terrorists committed to exterminating blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals and other minorities. The true face of racist terror was shown in the massacre of nine black people in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last June. Following that slaughter, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which the gang that tried to rally in Anaheim is associated with, spearheaded a campaign against the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol.
Today, the forces of the capitalist state are the main agents of violent repression against working people and the oppressed, though of course, the police have always been deeply intertwined with white supremacists. The Klan is waiting in the wings to be deployed as shock troops of capitalist reaction against the unions and oppressed when struggle breaks out. Klan and neo-Nazi groups have grown rapidly in the last year, emboldened by daily cop terror, massive deportations of immigrants and the anti-Muslim tirades of demagogues like Donald Trump.
Anaheim used to be overwhelmingly white with a population that included many from the South. Known as “Klanaheim,” the city retained many of the white-supremacist practices of the Jim Crow South. In the early 1920s, four of five City Council members and nine of ten police officers were Klan members. Klansmen patrolled the streets in robes and masks. Die-hard anti-Catholics, the Klan burned a large cross in front of St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church. In 1924, 30,000 people attended a KKK rally at what is now Pearson Park.
The population of Anaheim today is more than half Latino, including many unionized hotel and food workers. But race terror remains. Last year, the KKK flooded nearby communities with inflammatory fliers on Martin Luther King Day, and in 2003, an eight-foot cross was burned outside the home of a black man in Anaheim Hills. In November of that year, the fascists’ hatred for the organized working class was demonstrated when Nazi skinheads wielding baseball bats attacked a United Food and Commercial Workers union picket line in Laguna Niguel, Orange County. This attack underscores the common interests between the labor movement and oppressed minorities.
It’s good that the Anaheim protesters stopped the KKK rally on February 27. But, however courageous, small groups of protesters do not have the social weight to crush the fascist menace and often become targets of police and state repression. In contrast to the perspective of PLP and anti-fascist activists who reject mobilizing the organized labor movement, what is desperately needed are mass united-front actions centered on the power of the unions. In past years, the Spartacist League and our affiliated legal and social defense organization, the Partisan Defense Committee, have initiated united-front labor/black mobilizations to stop the fascists—in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York City and other cities. In addition to beating back the race terrorists, in the course of such mobilizations we strive to make the working class conscious of its own power and its historic mission to eradicate the capitalist system. Capitalist misery breeds fascism; only socialist revolution, under the leadership of a revolutionary workers party, can ultimately rid humanity of this scourge.
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1085, 11 March 2016)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.