Militant Journalism

Activists protest white supremacist Spencer at Michigan State U.

Protest against the Richard Spencer led National Policy Institute in Washington, DC on November 19, 2016, Photo by Susan Melkisethian (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Protest against Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute in Washington, DC, November 19, 2016. Photo: Susan Melkisethian (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On March 5, antifascist protesters gathered at Michigan State University in East Lansing to protest the speaking engagement of noted white supremacist and fascist Richard Spencer.

The venue, the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education, had been secured through a lawsuit against the university filed by attorney Kyle Bristow. Bristow, until recently, was a member of the white supremacist and fascist organization Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas. Since being thoroughly exposed in local media as a fascist, he has distanced himself from FMI.

The gathering began around noon with roughly 100 protesters, and the size of the rally grew over the course of the day. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, MSU Young Democratic Socialists of America, Solidarity and Defense, Refuse Fascism, Great Lakes Antifa, Students for Justice in Palestine MSU, Michigan Peoples Defense Network and Anti-Racist Action were all present and representing, as well as many MSU students.

It is possible that the date of March 5 was chosen because it is the first day of MSU’s spring break, in hopes of minimizing the numbers of  counter-demonstrators. However, the fascists had no such luck. As anti-fascist protesters gathered outside the pavilion, our numbers swelled to an estimated 500. The police forces numbered about 100, including dozens of officers in riot gear, a number of bike police, three officers on horseback, and two armored trucks.

As the clock neared Spencer’s scheduled speaking time of 4:30pm, his supporters began to file in. They were far fewer in number than the protesters or the cops, and  antifascist protesters were able to deter many of these people from entering. Sources say that in the end, Spencer spoke to a group of only a dozen people, although the university gave Spencer a
total of 360 tickets to distribute.

Neo-Nazi organization Traditionalist Worker Party attempted to lead the procession directly into the building, walking shoulder to shoulder with the police. Antifascist protesters physically prevented that. The police then corralled protesters onto both sides of the street, pushing protesters and using their bikes as battering rams. With the protesters thus removed from the street, officers were free to escort Spencer’s speech attendees into the building, but not without the protests of the antifascist forces. “The cops and the Klan go hand in hand,” “No justice, no peace, f*** these racist police,” and “Richard Spencer, you a punk, that’s why we rollin’ with fists up” were popular chants. Police arrested 24  people  in the course of the
action, and at the time of this writing, several are still awaiting arraignment.

With this demonstration, anti-fascists affirmed that the workers and students of the community have the right to deny a public platform to speakers organizing for genocide. Richard Spencer has since cancelled his college speaking tour, specifically citing the vigorous opposition of the antifascist forces as a reason for his cancellation. We are under no illusions that the fight is over, and we will continue to confront fascists wherever they show their faces. ¡No pasarán!

Related Articles

Back to top button