A coalition of Seattle anti-fascist groups held a press conference at City Hall on Dec. 10 to address complaints of police repression. At a recent community anti-fascist rally opposing the Washington state Three Percenters, the Seattle Police Department prevented the activists and community members from approaching the event location, instead corralling them onto a nearby corner, surrounded by barricades. These tactics, reminiscent of the “free speech zones” used in the capitol, were an imposition on the rights of the anti-fascist activists and community members.
Far-right groups have repeatedly used Seattle as a location for their provocative events, often open-carrying assault weapons and shouting bigoted and offensive slogans. In previous events Seattle anti-fascists have occupied the area directly facing City Hall to oppose them, but on this occasion the SPD erected barricades to block this area prior to the start of the event. When asked, they made unqualified references to “bottles being thrown” at past events, a standard allegation used by SPD to justify cracking down on protests.
Speakers representing socialist, legal and labor organizations spoke out at the press conference against both the fascists and against the SPD’s attempt to interfere with the community response. Organizations represented within the coalition include the International Socialist Organization, Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women, Clinic Defense, the National Lawyers Guild, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the ANSWER coalition and others.
Freedom Socialist Party member Annaliza Torres shared a statement which connected the SPD actions at this event to past ones, showing their real allegiances, such as when police peppersprayed counter-protesters at an anti-Muslim rally last year. She stressed the pattern of behavior was repeated and consistently exposed antifascists to violence at the hands of fascists, if not the police themselves. Torres also connected police actions to the free speech rights of antifascist counter-protesters, saying they were “kept a block away, barricaded and surrounded by dozens of officers,” while the Three Percenters “were allowed
to roam freely and made several attempts to instigate altercations.”
Neil Fox, representing the Seattle chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, referenced past revelations of police officers also being members of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, and asked “Is the hostility of the Seattle Police toward anti-fascist protesters in any way based in the infiltration of our police force by fascists?”
This is a reasonable question, and we know that ties between the police and fascists go back a long time, summed up by the popular anti-fascist protest chant “The cops and the Klan go hand in hand.”
PSL member Liam Hopkins shared a statement of solidarity, saying, “Fascist groups call for violence against the most marginalized members of our community, and we believe the only way to end the threat these groups pose is via collective self defense.”
The working people of Seattle have no interest in fascism or the bigotry on offer by far-right groups, and will continue to come together to oppose them. Together we affirm that the Three Percenters and all other far-right, fascist hate groups are not welcome in our city.