San Francisco and Berkeley—broad masses in powerful repudiation of fascist thug rallies

August 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Many thousands marched in San Francisco and Berkeley on August 26 and 27 against fascist rallies. In the wake of Charlottesville and the important mass rejection of the fascists in Boston last weekend, these protests reflected the growing broad outrage at the Trump/Pence regime and their foot soldiers on the ground.

Even going into the weekend, it was very clear that thousands of people were mobilizing against the “Patriot Prayer” rally in San Francisco, and the “No to Marxism in America” rally in Berkeley. In San Francisco, the “Patriot Prayer” rally was called by a group of flag-waving Christian fascists bringing their hatred of LGBT people and women right to San Francisco. Their leader talks about Christian love and “Free Speech,” but works directly with open neo-Nazis. Some city officials denounced the rally and linked it to white supremacy and Charlottesville. There were several dozen different actions and counter-protests planned—these ranged from hundreds of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious forces mobilizing on Friday night for a religious service, to a City of San Francisco sponsored concert and rally planned for the same time as the “Patriots Prayer,” to groups who organized to confront the fascists as they rallied. Refuse Fascism was in the mix, relating to all of this, going among the different events and bringing the word of "November 4—It Begins" to the people resisting. In Berkeley, there were similar mobilizations and calls. In the face of all of this, including some obstacles thrown in their path by city officials (the fascists never received a permit in Berkeley, and in SF, the Mayor called for the National Park Service to withdraw the permit they were granted) the fascist organizers in both SF and Berkeley cancelled their rallies at the last minute (though still attempting to maneuver to claim some kind of victory in their political defeat, and as usual lying about and slandering the forces who were opposing them.)

So it was very important that many thousands of people rallied, marched and protested in opposition to the cancelled fascist rallies. There was of course a need to make sure that the fascists actually did not hold their rallies (they didn’t—though in each city they did come sneaking around the rally sites in small numbers); more important, it was crucial that masses of people made a powerful political statement. In San Francisco, a speaker from Refuse Fascism led thousands in a pledge to take to the streets on November 4 and not leave until the regime is gone.  Another group of many thousands marched from the Castro District after a spirited rally to the Civic Center where there was a major concert and rally. Popular chants along the way were “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” and “No Ban, No Wall, the Trump Regime Has Got to Fall”. Everywhere people were marching, Refuse Fascism organizers were there, getting out thousands of the Refuse Fascism Call for November 4, gathering names, and talking to people and making connections for November 4.

In Berkeley, which had been the scene of three major fascist rallies this past spring, way too many people had been paralyzed by the argument that these fascists have the right to come and assault people under the guise of “free speech,” and refused to counter-protest. This weekend was very different. The fascists in Berkeley were rallying under the banner of “No to Marxism”—Refuse Fascism put out a flyer which said “Once again the fascists are targeting Berkeley, this time claiming, ‘Berkeley is a ground zero for the Marxist Movement.’ By going after Marxism, they are taking a line right out of Hitler’s playbook. Whether you are a Marxist, an anarchist, a Green, a Democrat, or ANYONE WHO REFUSES TO ACCEPT A FASCIST AMERICA, you need to be there.” Revolution Books was in the field with a flyer “Yes! To the New Communism”, calling for people to come to a discussion at the store on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Many different people came out in protest of the basic thrust of the fascist rally—600 religious people gathered in a nearby park and marched to the scene. At one point a truck with a sound system parked in front of Berkeley City Hall and a series of religious leaders spoke, including a woman rabbi who passionately denounced white supremacy. Many UC Berkeley students were in the mix, along with a whole range of activists of many different kinds.

The size and breadth of the crowd is important. And the resistance represented some changes in the thinking of people as they face what is happening in society, struggle over how to understand it and feel compelled to act. People spoke to how glad they were that thousands came out, and how we cannot let these fascists rally unopposed; some mocked the view that the fascist regime will just go away if we ignore them, which some in power are saying. The Mayor of Berkeley other city officials had called for people to stay away from confrontations with the fascists, but at the same time did support those who wanted to speak out and called on people to do so.

Thousands of copies of the Call for Nov. 4 were distributed including by people just joining in with Refuse Fascism. A wide range of people took this plan very seriously - many were struck by the boldness and seriousness of the plan, and promised to be there Nov. 4, and signed up to take part.


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