Hundreds of anti-fascists confronted a coalition of far-right extremist bullies in Seattle on Aug. 18. The fascist event was part of the the “National March Against Far-left Violence” that was scheduled to take place in several cities one week after “Unite the Right II” in Washington, D.C.
In Seattle, the far-right event was only confirmed two weeks prior. A local coalition came together quickly, which included ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and LIberation, Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women, Seattle Democratic Socialist of America, International Socialist Organization, Seattle Clinic Defense, Socialist Alternative, Veterans for Peace #92 and others. The coalition called for a “unified, militant and orderly” counterprotest at City Hall wit the theme of “Unite against fascism: Remember those lost to far-right violence.” Demonstrators held a beautiful banner that honored Heather Heyer, Nia Wilson, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, all killed by far-right violence.
Patriot Prayer, Proud Boys and Three Percenters
As can be seen from the rout in Washington, D.C. at Unite the Right II, the fascist, white supremacist right is in significant disarray. That said, the wing of the fascist right that currently seems to be gaining the most attention and followers is the NorthWest based “Christian” Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, a “Western chauvinist” gang. These groups were critical of the call for Unite the Right II, and did not mobilize for it.
Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys differentiate themselves from the “traditional” fascist and white supremacists because they have people of color within their ranks. This does not make them any less racist or pro-fascist–they are anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, misogynist, anti-LGBTQ, pro-cop, and are building a front with racist, anti-Semitic “Three Percenter” groups who were in attendance at the Aug. 18 rally and march. They also loudly proclaim their affinity for fascist dictatorships such as Pinochet’s in Chile. At a recent action in Portland the Proud Boys posed in matching t-shirts reading “Pinochet did nothing wrong” with a meme about “helicopter rides” on the back of the shirts–a reference to the Pinochet regime’s disappearing of communists by throwing them out of helicopters after the 1973 coup.
In the past few months, Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys have attempted to terrorize the streets of Portland, Oregon with several marches that have led to violent attacks on counterprotesters and bystanders. Last year, Jeremy Joseph Christian, who had attended Patriot Prayer rallies in Portland threatened two Black teen girls on the Max train and then killed two good Samaritans, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, who stepped in to defend the young women, injuring one other defender. On August 12, Patriot Prayer made a surprise appearance at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Seattle and overwhelmed the clinic defense team that shows up to counter a monthly anti-abortion vigil. Earlier this year they rallied at the University of Washington, held an “open carry” march in Seattle in May and rallied outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kent, Wa. in June.
Ignore Patriot Prayer?
As was the case with Unite the Right II in Washington, D.C., some people said that the best way to handle these fascist groups is to ignore them. However, as was also the case in D.C. on Aug. 12, the anti-fascist majority made it clear that these violent, armed bigots are not welcome on our streets! Outnumbering the fascists at least two to one, the counterprotest drowned out the Patriot Prayer rally, a fact even acknowledged by the capitalist media outlet KOMO News. The reactionaries then started their march, basically going around the block. They marched east on Cherry and then went south on 5th Ave, turning west on James, where they were blocked by police as they attempted to march into the counterprotest. The anti-fascists held firm, chanting loudly until the fascists turned around and marched back up the hill to the jeers of the crowd.
The fascists then marched south on 5th again, eventually turning west again and going downhill to 3rd Ave, then traveling north to Cherry where they turned east to return to City Hall. Counterprotesters continued to stand firm. After several false starts, the fascists finally departed the scene as protesters chanted “Go home Nazis, go home!” The police predictably served as an escort and protection service for the bigots throughout the day.
Anti-fascist protesters vowed to turn out in large numbers for the next clinic defense on Sept. 8 to protect the Planned Parenthood patients and outnumber the fascists.