While much of the progressive movement focused on Dayton, Ohio, where the Ku Klux Klan was vastly outnumbered by anti-racists, on May 25 in the Seattle area, anti-racist and anti-fascist organizers stood in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who was the featured speaker at a local event.
Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, has been the focus point of a disgustingly racist and Islamophobic campaign. She has spoken out against U.S. support for Israel, against U.S. war on Venezuela, for Muslim civil rights and against abortion bans. She was the featured speaker at a well-attended fundraising event in Bellevue, Washington, hosted by Washington Council on American-Islamic Relations.
While hundreds of local Muslims and their political allies were excited to hear from Omar and participate in this special event during the month of Ramadan, the forces of hatred and bigotry called a counter-protest outside the event at the Meydenbauer Center.
However, the “Patriots of Western Washington” and other fascist, anti-Muslim organizations were countered by members of the newly formed coalition, Community & Labor Against Fascism, on the streets of downtown Bellevue. The fascist forces attempted to stand right by the main entrance to the venue; CLAF activists quickly moved in to hold the territory, holding signs reading “We stand with our Muslim Neighbors” and “We support Ilhan Omar-a brave woman.” Event-goers waiting for the doors to open waved, smiled and took photos with their phones.
CLAF continued to militantly and non-violently defend the area closest to the main entrance, even when police allowed hostile right-wingers to move out of what had become their “zone” and wade into the crowd of anti-fascists. As a result, police were forced to move the fascists back into their area and away from the anti-fascists and the event entrance. As CLAF activists sang “We Shall Not Be Moved,” an organizer with the Ilhan Omar event came out and thanked the anti-fascist demonstrators for their support.
A statement by CLAF on the coalition Facebook page reads in part:
As announced, far right demonstrators came with MAGA hats, American flags, and signs full of racist vitriol to protest the courageous congresswoman. They used verbal threats and xenophobic and anti-Muslim insults and attempted to provoke our side into confrontations and altercations. As we left, they attempted to block our exit. But we left the area in an organized fashion to ensure everyone in attendance was able to get home safely.
Community & Labor Against Fascism is proud to have been present at the Meydenbauer Center to show our support for Rep. Omar and everyone targeted by racists, bigots, and xenophobes. Many of the individuals who came to the far-right counter rally, including the notorious Proud Boys, have a track record of promoting white nationalism, misogyny, and violent attacks on anti-fascist protesters. We will continue to organize community actions against these bullies and bigots, and we encourage all our friends and neighbors to join us! Together, we will show that solidarity and unity in action are our strongest weapons!