Countering the #AlternativeFacts, Lies, & Goddamn Lies of the #MiloAtCal #BerkeleyProtests, & the Next Steps
2. No Free Speech For Fascists!
3. What Really Happened with the “Violent” Antifa?
4. More On My Participation That Night
5. Countering Some More Goddamn Lies and Wrapping Up
6. Moving Forward: The Next Steps
Let me start by saying this: After nearly a decade of activism in the Bay Area that includes a countless number marches, rallies, occupations and shutdowns where the state deployed riot cops to brutally suppress protesters, to see AntiFa using Black Bloc tactics show up at UC Berkeley and immediately start blasting the UCPD with fireworks forcing them to retreat, tearing down the barricades and stopping Actual Fucking Nazi Milo Yanagofuckyourself from speaking was not only a thing of beauty, but also sweet, sweet vindication. Furthermore, seeing the right wing fascist trolls who have been comfortably cheering on police violence against peaceful protesters for years from their computers in their basement cave dwellings finally have to show up in meatspace to bodily defend their abhorrent views; to see them fail so spectacularly and get their asses kicked to the curb, well, that was just icing on the cake.
Over a week has passed since that night, and there have been a lot of takes on how the protest transpired. There have been a few reportbacks that have been radical cheerleading, but mostly have ranged from liberal handwringing to rightwing condemnation to batshit insane conspiracy theories from “respectable” political pundits. Whatever critiques one may have about the tactics or what have you, it is of primary importance that this event was shut down, and the protest was an overwhelming victory for the Left. This excerpt from Left Voice concisely explains why:
The alternative scenario in which fascists are able to openly organize and demonstrate results in the opposite set of results. The right is empowered, the left is disheartened, and bystanders — including, importantly, vulnerable oppressed groups — become convinced that the far-left does not offer them a dependable protection against fascists. This would be a disaster.”
But first, a little bit about myself:
Yeah, that’s me, and this image of me went all around the word on the AP wire under the heading “Berkeley Protests Turn Violent” after Berkeley police responded to a Dec 6th 2014~”Black Lives Matter” demonstration by indiscriminately clubbing and tear gassing those peacefully assembled. As I’ve said, I’ve been an activist in the Bay Area for nearly a decade, was heavily involved at Occupy Oakland and even more so at Occupy Cal at UC Berkeley, and I can provide a distinctive insight to the protest that happened on campus Feb 1st, by having an extensive “inside baseball” perspective on the event (which, yes, I witnessed firsthand), to the local political atmosphere surrounding it and leading up to it, and explain what makes this particular action against Milo and the Alt-Right not only uniquely Berkeley, but why it couldn’t (before now) be easily replicated on other campuses around the country, or even four miles away in Oakland.
Oh, and not for nothing, five years ago at Occupy Cal, I singlehandedly chased a Breitbart “reporter” scumfuck off campus, so you could say I’m something of a seasoned veteran in this field.
No Free Speech for Fascists!
So in the past week+ there have been a lot of people jerking themselves off to sleep every night splitting hairs as to what defines a white nationalist versus a white supremacist, what separates a far-right Republican from a Fascist, are Berkeley College Republicans who sympathize with Nazis actually Nazi-Sympathizers, and is it OK to punch a Nazi in the face, etc, etc.
It should be pretty clear where I stand on these points, but a greater perspective regarding “free speech” has been mostly ignored.
Leftists have never had “free speech” in this country.
How can I say such a thing? First off, we must more clearly define what is or isn’t “the Left”.
No Democrats since at least 1993 have been left of center as the party has moved farther and farther right in the past 25 years. I would argue that this chart, if updated, would place Bernie Sanders back to the center as his “socialist” ideals were more based on “Hope and Change” style platitudes than actual policy positions, and his endorsing of far-right Hillary Clinton would also knock him a few spaces right.
It’s unfortunate that I have to explain that the Democrats and their supporters are not “the Left”, but there has been an astonishing dearth of understanding of basic civics in this country, as well as a whitewashing of labor history. So with the basic concept of “Workers should control the means of production” as a starting point of Leftism, let’s review how well this whole concept of “Free Speech” has worked out for actual Leftists in the past 100 years.
- 1917-1918 – Anti-War Activists. Leftists who spoke out against the capitalist bloodbath known as World War One were imprisoned en masse. Socialist IWW leader Eugene Debs famously ran his presidential campaign from prison.
- 1919 – The Palmer Raids. Thousands of communists, socialists and anarchists were rounded up, imprisoned on spurious charges and deported.
- 1921 – The Battle of Blair Mountain. After decades of coal miners and their families being massacred by private security forces and the state for trying to form a union, they gathered for their most militant showing to date to fight for their labor rights. In response the coal companies and the US army were deployed to again slaughter the workers, with tactics including aerial bombardment. 100 workers killed, ~1000 arrested.
- 1937 – The Flint Sit-Down Strike. Auto workers seeking a 5% pay increase and the right to talk to each other during their lunch break held a strike. It was met with the usual state repression of tear gas, bullets and bayonets. The strikers won, formed into the United Auto Workers (UAW) whose leadership promptly forbade sit-down strikes as a legal tactic within the union.
- 1939-1945 – Because Nazis and Fascists were given a platform to speak and not crushed in their infancy, this whole thing called World War Two happened.
- 1947 – The Taft-Hartley Bill is passed. This effectively made General Strikes illegal in the USA, crippling US Labor Unions’ bargaining power by eliminating their primary weapon versus the capitalist bosses: Labor Solidarity between all workers to withhold their labor until demands are met.
- 1950s – The Red Scare & McCarthyism – Workers suspected of being a Communist/Socialist/Leftist or having any sympathies towards those ideologies were blacklisted from employment without any due process. US Labor Unions purged Leftists from their ranks.
- ~1965-1975 – The Anti-War movements mobilized millions across the USA to protest the war in Vietnam. At UC Berkeley, a helicopter dumped tear gas on demonstrators gathered on Sproul plaza; at another rally the National Guard fired on student protesters, permanently wounding several and killing one.
- Also during this time, the US government began an initiative called COINTELPRO. Its purpose was to deploy agents to infiltrate anti-war organizations and the New Left; to spread disinformation, to sow discord and strife within the memberships, and to assassinate leaders like Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party.
- ~1984 – The Anti-Apartheid Movement at UC Berkeley. One of the largest sustained protests in the USA against the fascist white minority regime in South Africa was won at UC Berkeley through a series of radical direct actions and building occupations (which included extensive property damage). The UC Berkeley administration, on the side of the racist South African government, sent in the UCPD to beat students, causing many severe injures including broken limbs, but ultimately lost against the popular Anti-Apartheid movement.
- 1990s-2000s – Shit happened. You should probably look it up sometime if you get a chance.
- 2011-2012 – The Occupy Movement. Founded by anarchists, the umbrella anti-capitalist movement combined leftists of all stripes rallying hundreds of thousands across the USA was repressed by the state in two waves: First the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinated with Democratic mayors to brutally break up the peaceful occupations of the commons, arresting 1000s; Second, the state sent in COINTELPRO style infiltrators to Occupy meetings across the country to sabotage and sow discord.
- Also 2011-2012 – Occupy Cal at UC Berkeley and Occupy UC Davis. Students joining Occupy on those campuses linked arms to peacefully defend their symbolic tents. UCPD savagely beat those students with batons and hosed them with pepper-spray. A former UC Chancellor (who, by the way, I also later chased off campus single-handedly) infamous claimed that students peacefully linking arms were “Not non-violent.”
- 2014 – Janet Napolitano, head of the DHS under Obama, who was a key figure in deporting more immigrants than any other administration in history, is selected to become the new President of the University of California system. Undocumented students and their allies begin a series of escalating acts of civil disobedience in response, with many getting arrested. The same Stalinist faction of the UAW 2865 (that represents 13,000 graduate student-workers of UC) that infiltrated and ratfucked Occupy Cal on behalf of the state (COINTELPRO style) did the same to the #No2Napolitano movement, and the radical undocumented student movement soon withered away to nothing.
- 2017 – Lawmakers are trying to pass a series of anti-protesting laws, including the right to legally murder activists in the street by running them over. Days before Milo Yanagofuckyourself was set to preach hate at UC Berkeley, at a tour stop at the University in Seattle, an IWW protester was shot by one of his supporters. Police let him go.
So it should be brutally clear that in this country, which is neither a Liberal Democracy nor a Constitutional Republic but an Oligarchy, Leftists have never had anything remotely like “Free Speech”, and the Far Right State has held a total monopoly on systemic violence to suppress speech that runs contrary to their plutocratic ideologies.
With that perspective, are you really going to whine about a shitstain Nazi troll’s hate rally being forcibly cancelled, or that a few of his supporters got #KnockedTheFuckOut?
What Really Happened with the “Violent” Antifa?
The day after Milo Yanagofuckyourself got shut down at UC Berkeley, the first wave of highly selective on-the-ground Youtube clips came out from the Breitbart & College Republican crowd. Together they formed a “damning” narrative of “Look at all of these violent anarchist thugs attacking us peace-loving Nazis! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!”
I took a look at these video clips, reliving what I had witnessed firsthand less than 24 hours before. My initial skeptical thought was, “Huh, these videos seem to be starting 30 seconds too late,” IE there were a series of Nazi edited videos that conveniently left out the part where the College Alt-Right provoked the Antifa by trying to sucker punch one of them and run, but was caught, and got their asses kicked and strangely enough, these edited clips didn’t show the first part.
“Wait a minute Ergoat. Are you suggesting that supporters of Breitbart news, the scumfuck fascist organization that made its name by releasing highly edited videos to baselessly smear institutions such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood with outright lies, went ahead and edited videos to smear Antifa as violent instigators and make their “Proud Boys” look like victims who were attacked totally unprovoked?”
|Found this randomly. No idea what the $0.50 means...|
Look, their very presence in showing up to support an Actual Fucking Nazi was a in as of itself a provocation that warranted the most severe response. If the Alt-Right College Fascists were attacked for simply being in Sproul that night, I’d happily report that. But that’s NOT WHAT HAPPENED. Every Milo supporter who wanted to walk away without incident left the protest 100% unscathed.
Around the time when the generator fire burned out and the UCPD began again giving dispersal orders, the Antifa began leaving Sproul towards Bancroft and Telegraph. Seemingly out of nowhere, a six-foot-three 275lb guy in a red football jersey charged into the rearguard of the Black Bloc swinging his fists. Notably, he was going after some 100lb females. The rearguard was caught unaware, but they quickly regrouped and pummeled him to the pavement.
Next, the Antifa was still milling out of Sproul when some college GOP asshat bravely tried to suckerpunch a passerby and duck behind a barricade. The Black Bloc tore down those barricades and beat the shit out of him. There were a handful of nearly identical incidents, including that Fascist Princess who got maced in the face.
And onto the infamous March of the #ProudBoys: A group of about 20 College Alt-Right got a couple of nostrils full of that GOP blow, and so emboldened, decided to take the streets from Lower Sproul and march up Bancroft to confront the Black Bloc. They made it about 10 yards, and the cocaine rush abruptly left their bloodstream as the cold sobering reality hit them: they were a bunch of dumb fuckboys who had never gotten into a street fight as they approached a group of anarchists who at that moment outnumbered them 2:1. They quickly got onto the sidewalks, and started whistling nonchalantly: “College Republicans? No, definitely not us.”
But not all of their group got their updated memo of cowardice in the face of the enemy and new tactical approach therein, as two people on motorcycles revved up and charged through the rear of the crowd of Antifa gathered at Bancroft and Telegraph, and another bigger dude single-handedly broke ranks from the #ProudBoys and stormed into the group of 40, arms flailing, yelling “I hate Mexicans!” and he got #KnockedTheFuckOut. Cocaine is a helluva drug.
While this Nazi scumfuck was laid out in the middle of the street unconscious, what I assume was a Berkeley student bystander in a Cal hoodie ran in to help him out, Good Samaritan style, and got a skateboard to the back of his head for his troubles. It was an unfortunate incident of collateral damage (and the only one I saw) but it was understandable and justified, since there were many prior incidents of random people were jumping into the bloc attacking.
But Cal Hoodie wasn’t having it. He put about ten feet between himself and the 40 or so Antifa still gathered around the unconscious Nazi and started yelling and aggressively posturing at them. Basic shit like “Is this what you call ‘Free Speech’? I was just trying to help the guy.” I put myself between himself and the bloc and tried calming him down. I explained he didn’t see the first part of the incident with the motorcycles attempting vehicular homicide and the lone Nazi charging the group punching. Cal Hoodie blinked a couple of times and said, “Oh. Well. I didn’t see that first part. Thank you for explaining it to me.” Hey, no problem buddy. You’re also welcome for that ass-kicking I just saved you from.
Point being: de-escalation as a tactic, justly applied, works as well.
Finally, there was this incident.
The despicable level of concern trolling “respected” reporter Lee Fang engaged in, without vetting, bothering to getting additional sources, or remaining objective and unbiased is utter fucking garbage journalism and, dare I say it, “Fake News”.
A handful of the #ProudBoys who remained on the sidewalk started talking shit to the Antifa, and again, someone tried to suckerpunch, only this time there was no barricades to hide behind. That the person in a fancy suit who got hit squarely in the nose was allegedly a “Syrian Muslim” is absolutely irrelevant. He chose what side he was on that night, wanted to play with Nazi boys who thought they could play rough and quickly learned they were out of their league: he got his clock cleaned, and was slowly led away by one of his GOP friends, crying. End of story.
“But Ergoat,” you ask, “where is all of the video evidence to support your claims over the Breitbart scumfucks?”
Well there is a good and rather obvious explanation why Black Bloc tactics don’t include having an Official Videographer in the ranks.
More On My Participation That Night
So where was I during the #MiloAtCal shutdown? No, I’m not going to claim I was on the frontlines, like so many of those courageous souls tearing down the barricades. But I wasn’t exactly shoveling shit in Louisiana either.
After the brilliant firework bombardment that forced the UCPD to ingloriously retreat, one of my favorite things that I witnessed that night went like this: a 100lbs soaking wet Antifa bravely rushed past the downed barricades, and took a baseball bat to the windows of the building where the speech was to be held, but they didn’t have the strength to break the reinforced windows. Another anarchist a foot and a half taller gently tapped the first’s shoulder, said something I can only imagine was “Excuse me comrade, may I have a try?” and promptly smashed through that fucker.
I kept an eye on the cops, and yelled out warnings when I saw a few of them on the balcony overlooking Sproul armed with tear gas and pepper-ball guns. That’s when I donned my gasmask… and quickly realized I was the only one of the crowd who came so prepared. I received a lot of “That guy came ready!” and “Right on!”s from the students. I chose to keep on my gas mask on longer than was necessary, as a visual reminder to the mostly first time protesters who were and are rapidly becoming radicalized in real time: This is only the beginning. Be prepared. This includes buying a fucking gas mask. They’re only $15.
The Cal students assembled, even after seeing the fireworks, the damaged property, and the flaming remains of the generator, didn’t flee in terror from those scary black bloc anarchists, but cheered them on, later dancing and celebrating with them. After being under the spell of Obama’s “Hope and Change” charismatic fascism-lite, people are waking from their eight-year stupors and getting radicalized. They are no longer seeing the Democratic Party as allies, but as the enablers and gatekeepers that they are.
Thankfully, instead of a long and pointless standoff versus the next wave of UCPD forming up after the Nazi hate rally was cancelled, the Antifa moved out onto Telegraph. That’s when I began my self-assigned duty of moving a block ahead of the crowd, and began directing oncoming traffic away from the demonstration in the streets, for everyone’s safety.
While on the job for an hour, sometimes I had help, other times I was by myself, turning cars off Telegraph. There were only a couple of incidents, notably one where a group of rednecks in a large 4x4 truck threatened to plow over me and into the protesters (and get away with it). The driver had a real lunatic glint in his eye, and I prepared to do what was necessary to stop vehicular homicide. Luckily, the march came south and surrounded his truck as I informed them of the situation. The truck then turned around.
After that, there were about five of us on the ad-hoc People’s Revolutionary Traffic Safety Committee (PRTSC). While in the middle of the street, we shared stories of what we saw that night, and of Berkeley protests of yore. Then my second favorite moment of the night happened: a couple of Berkeley bike cops rode up, and it was clear that they were assigned to control traffic. Seeing that we had that covered, they instead just waited across the street. One of my new comrades taunted them by yelling “We’re doing your job better than you!” to which I chimed in, “Hey, it’s almost like we don’t even need cops…” and a collective light bulb flashed on over the heads of the PRTSC.
Countering Some More Goddamn Lies and Wrapping Up
Ranging from funny to pathetic were the “thinkpieces” from the Fake-Left decrying anarchists and black bloc tactics at the “Berkeley Riots”. Most come from a place of “radical” liberal professor butthurt, that their dissertation on ~“What Lenin would have done in response to Milo Yanagofuckyourself, and why Anarchists are scary and bad” didn’t rally the masses. Other liberals, lacking pearls to clutch, feverishly fingered their WWBD bracelets (What Would Bernie Do?).
I recorded hours of corporate media the night of and the day after the demonstration. The only station to even bother trying to get protesters’ perspectives was the local ABC affiliate (and Good Morning America, of all shows); local NBC news, on live TV called the protestors “Ant-Ifa” and “The Black Box” (I’m not even making that up); 8 hours of MSNBC programming didn’t mention it once; most of the others just showed a quick riot porn segment devoid of context; Fox News cried “Where was the police response???”
To that last point: Both the UCPD and the Berkeley Police Department have large active civil lawsuits against them for excessive force used during previous protests. Despite all of the state fuckery in trying to dismiss or delay, the lawsuit stemming from the UCPD beating Occupy Cal protesters is still in the courts, over FIVE YEARS LATER. A town like Berkeley can only accept so much tarnish on its liberal, “The Home of the Free Speech Movement ™” image, and it was definitely would have been even more of a public relations disaster to unleash the riot pigs to defend Nazis. It was a calculated political move not to use more pig violence that night.
The right-wing online blogosphere is convinced that the protesters were in fact being bankrolled by the sinister liberal plutocrat George Soros. This is actually 100% true, and I would like to take this opportunity to again thank Big Daddy G-Sor (what we in the paid-protesting biz affectionately call him), and ask him to please keep those checks coming.
And then former US Labor Secretary and current UCB professor Robert Reich went on the news and made an ass out of himself by declaring that the black bloc anarchists were actually all Breitbart employees deployed in a 5-dimensional chess move to garner sympathy for Milo Yanagofuckyourself and the Alt-Right.
OK… I’ve seen the black bloc in action many times over the years. Sometimes the tactic is effective and even surgical, sometimes it is a few kids looking to get street cred by smashing some windows, sometimes it’s cops/paid provocateurs smashing windows trying to entrap protesters, sometimes it’s cops smashing up a working class neighborhood to discredit anarchists the night before a huge May Day demonstration, sometimes it’s cops who later draw guns on the demonstration when they were exposed.
Having seen a rather large cross section of anarchists and black bloc tactics over the years, I can say with certainly they weren’t cops at the UC Berkeley “riot” on Feb 1st, and no, they definitely weren’t fucking Breitbart employees. Jeezus fucking christ on a stick…
(“But Ergoat,” you say, “you point out that the black bloc has been infiltrated by cops and provocateurs before, repeatedly. Doesn’t that prove that it’s too dangerous of a tactic to deploy?” Of course not. Cops infiltrate our boring as shit meetings and General Assemblies too; I don’t suggest abandoning those tactics of organizing either.)
Moving Forward: The Next Steps
I’ve covered it before extensively, and touched on it in this article; the way in how Occupy Oakland and Occupy Cal dissolved was a complete shitshow of betrayals, and permanent distrust (which I maintain was in large part manufactured by the state and bad actors infiltrating the movements) and we can’t build a sustainable movement in 2017 without addressing this in a significant, open, and transparent fashion.
The evidence has been felt in the streets since 2012 in every movement post-Occupy that has prematurely fizzled out. It’s as if at the end of Occupy Oakland, an unidentified person(s) took a big shit in our activist pool, and we never cleaned it up or found out who the phantom shitters were. And every time we all jumped back into the pool for the next movement, and starting swimming around for organizing something like shutting down the Port of Oakland in solidarity with Gaza, activists swam peaceful, for a while. And then they noticed the turd in the pool. “Oh, gross, that’s still here?” and they get out of the pool. Then we all closed our eyes, hoped for the best, and jumped in the Oakland activist pool again for Black Lives Matter. We swam a couple laps, but there it was, bobbing in our lane, and we had to abandon the movement for reasons that had nothing to do with the tactics of the moment.
No one would be happier than me if on the 0.0001% chance that it wasn’t a turd in the pool, but a chocolate candy bar all along! …but let’s be realistic about this comrades, and let’s do the distasteful and unpleasant task of finally cleaning up the dirty pool. (Everyone calm down: I’m not talking about a purge or something but an open dialogue.)
So besides some sort of long-awaited reckoning after an East Bay Activist Community Truth and Reconciliation conference, what’s to be done about this Trump administration and the emboldened Fascist movement?
There’s been some buzz about a General Strike set for February 17th 2017. Unfortunately, not enough buzz. This is mostly due to the fact that many of our “Leftist allies” lately would rather write lengthy thinkpieces about “Why General Strikes are Impossible and Why Anarchists are Bad” (despite one being organized in a week, by anarchists, during Occupy Oakland that saw 100K participants) than spending their time trying to actually organize work stoppages.
So my idea that I freely pass on, in hope that it gains some critical mass as a strategy?
Co-opt the fuck out of every upcoming liberal Anti-Trump rally and radicalize them. Turnabout is fair play motherfuckers!
There are a lot of creative, fun ways this can be done. I leave the details to you and your collectives
(…well, wait a sec. Be smart. Do your research. Come armed with facts. If you are going to be at, for instance, the Science March, know how 350 dot Org figurehead Bill McKibben has sold out to the Rockefellers and co-opted the once radical environmental movement into liberal fuckshit. If the AFL-CIO is going to leader a Labor Union march against the GOP, know the details of how their leader Dick Trump-ka supports the Dakota Access Pipeline, betraying our comrades facing continuous near-lethal state repression at #NoDAPL. Etc. No room for dumb radicals.)
And some final words from a comrade who passed away suddenly yesterday:
This article is dedicated to the memory of one of my first Occupy Wall Street Twitter friends, @LiamPhuckall, who was always a badass Nazi-punching straight-shooter in our social media interactions, and I’m sad I never got a chance to meet him IRL. By all accounts he was (by choice, because that was his style) an unsung hero of Hurricane Sandy and Occupy Sandy that risked it all to help his community. My condolences to his friends and family. #RIPLiam