“Bigots say get back, we say fight back!” On June 9, a spirited gathering of pro-choice and anti-fascist activists shouted down members of Vancouver, Wa-based Patriot Prayer who were attempting to hold a “defund Planned Parenthood” rally in Kent, Wa.
The united front coalition formally included ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism); Party for Socialism and Liberation; Freedom Socialist Party; Radical Women; Veterans for Peace #92; Seattle Clinic Defense; International Socialist Organization; Workers World Party; Gay Community News and Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity. Other groups that participated in the action in a coordinated fashion included Tacoma Clinic Defense, The Janes (Everett clinic defense group) and the General Defense Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Patriot Prayer is a so-called alt-right group based in Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon. The group, led by Joey Gibson, has ties to violent extremists including the Proud Boys. At previous attempts to show up in the Seattle area, they have been continuously outnumbered and outshouted by progressives, starting with their attempt one year ago to hold an “anti-Sharia law” protest at City Hall; a rally in August 2017 the day after the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville; a “prayer vigil” at University of Washington and on May 20, an “open carry” march in downtown Seattle. On June 3 in Portland, Patriot Prayer and their Proud Boy buddies held a very violent action which was countered by large numbers of anti-fascists.
On June 9 in Kent, about 25 anti-choice religious fanatics and their openly fascist allies gathered in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic, which was closed for the weekend, meaning no clients were intimidated or hindered by the reactionaries. According to the Kent Reporter, “Anticipating a big turnout and bracing for any unrest at Saturday’s rally, the Kent Police Civil Disturbance Unit tapped into the regional Valley Civil Disturbance Unit (VCDU), which consists of officers from Tukwila, Auburn, Federal Way, Renton and Port of Seattle police departments. SWAT and bicycle police officers from several agencies also were called in for the demonstration.”
Police presence was heavy and attempted to intimidate anti-fascists, with use of video cameras, officers stationed on the top of a nearby store, as well as drones. Cops used batons and pepper spray to move a group of pro-choice demonstrators away from the corner on the Planned Parenthood side of the street, reserving the sidewalk in front of the clinic for the bigots. Street medics treated several counter protesters including a Liberation News reporter; one demonstrator went home further self-treatment. Police also mysteriously disappeared from the west end of the pro-choice demonstration just as three fascists attempted to breach a security line. A pro-choice security person was briefly detained by police and then let go.
Pro-choice and anti-fascists kept up their chants and pickets for more than three hours until the fascists left in small groups under police escort.