Four Fascist Attacks on Revolution Books Berkeley in Two Days:

“You Will Not Shut Down Revolution Books! Berkeley Will Be a Fascist Free Zone!”

September 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Fascist forces attacked and threatened Revolution Books Berkeley four different times in two days, Sunday and Monday, September 24-25, attempting to storm and threaten the bookstore. They did not succeed.

It began on Sunday, after a protest led by Refuse Fascism and other groups against fascist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’s appearance at Sproul Plaza on the nearby UC Berkeley campus. Over the past several weeks, fascist forces with direct connections to the Trump/Pence regime had been organizing to deluge the campus with white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic hate-mongers under the banner of “free speech.” The speaking engagements were cancelled, but Milo and hundreds of pro-Trump alt-right Nazis from across California and beyond rallied on campus to plant their pole, organize their forces and terrorize students and the surrounding community.

After Milo’s appearance at UC Berkeley, about 40 “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) red hat fascists descended on Revolution Books. They filled the 10-15 foot wide hallway in the mall the bookstore is part of, blocking the entrance to the bookstore and trying to force their way in. A dozen or so bookstore supporters – most of whom had been protesting Milo – were there. Some stood outside blocking the fascists. Others were inside locking and holding the doors shut. These Nazis pounded on the windows, threatened Revolution Books supporters and staff with death, called them “commie scum,” and warned "[W]e know where you are, we’re going to get you."

Some of these “USA, USA, USA” chanting MAGA fascists had been part of the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that led to the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of dozens of other counter-protesters. On Sunday they screamed that Revolution Books was supposedly supporting “white genocide,” because it stands against white supremacy.

As they were menacing Revolution Books, they livestreamed the assault to their fascist networks across the country, inciting others to violence against the bookstore and popularizing this kind of thuggery to be unleashed elsewhere. “That’s how we expose communists in this country,” one of the Nazi leaders said. “We go right into their bookstores. We expose them at all costs.”

“It was a mob like you see in the movies—like the KKK, but without the sheets,” Reiko Redmonde, the manager of Revolution Books, said. One supporter of Revolution Books observed that this has the odor of book burning and Kristallnacht. One Refuse Fascism member called it “one of the most terrifying things in my life.”

There were two more attacks like this, with varying numbers of fascists, against the bookstore on Sunday and one more on Monday.

Exposing the Attacks and Building Broader Support

“From the very start people came to the aid of Revolution Books,” Redmonde said. “A whole group—probably 20 activists from the Berkeley Animal Rights Center—came to defend the store.

“And I’ve never seen the building’s security people do their job with such energy – they stood right in front of the store and told these fascists off.”

Revolution Books quickly issued a statement and reached out very broadly for support:  

Revolution Books denounces this outrageous fascist attack, vows to remain open, and calls on everyone in Berkeley and beyond who cares about the future of humanity and values critical thinking to support Revolution Books right now. Come or send statements to our Emergency Press Conference and public Speak Out on Tuesday night: “You Will Not Shut Down Revolution Books! Berkeley Will Be a Fascist Free Zone!”

“Following the attacks students have been coming in, saying they heard about the attack and said that’s why I needed to come here today and buy books from Revolution Books,” Redmonde continued. “And a number of people were buying revolutionary lit – like Bob Avakian’s Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, and Ardea Skybreak’s Science and Revolution. Others were coming by and asking if we were OK, and giving their support.

“The other thing – we have learned a lot more about what these fascists are doing since the attacks because people who follow the alt-right and Nazis are coming in and telling us who these fascists are, and what they’ve been doing. The National Lawyers Guild came in and shared their experience in being attacked by the fascists and what they were doing about it.” (See for example, “Violent Assaults & Harassment Follow #FreeSpeechWeek“)

September 26 Press Conference and Speak-Out

“These fascists coming to our bookstore in mobs underlines the reality that this is fascism, that’s what we’re facing, it brings it home,” Redmonde said in opening Tuesday night’s important and inspiring press conference and speak-out. “The right wing attacked us because we’re a revolutionary communist bookstore that’s about everything the fascists hate – opposing oppression, critical thinking and the vision of a whole new world,”

Over 40 people including members of the press, supporters and friends of Revolution books and others packed into the bookstore. Redmonde and Sunsara Taylor gave presentations providing urgently needed clarity and context about the attacks on Revolution Books, why the store was targeted, and how precious and essential it is in knowing and changing the world.

Sunsara Taylor exposed how the fascists were using the claim of “free speech” as a cover: “They came to Berkeley to shut down critical thinking, dox and terrorize students, and oust professors. They targeted Berkeley to normalize and legitimize fascism, and to assault a symbol of critical thinking and resistance the world over.” This is connected with the Trump/Pence’s regime’s drive to consolidate fascist rule, and underscores the urgency of people coming together across this country from many different perspectives and taking to the streets day after day, night after night, refusing to stop utnil the entire Trump/Pence regime has been driven from power—this begins November 4. If the Muslim ban, the white supremacy sanctioned by this President, the Christian fascism of Pence, or any of that wasn’t enough—let the reality of sworn Nazis pounding on the door of Revolution Books in Berkeley, the same day that Nazis surrounded and threatened an anarchist book fair in Houston, be your wake-up call. We cannot wait—we must drive them out.

Taylor emphasized that the targeting of any place by white supremacists and fascists is intolerable no matter who it was, but with Revolution Books even more is at stake. Revolution Books is a special place—it is a place that brings people together to learn about the world in a deep and scientific way, through world literature and poetry, through science and history, through philosophy and most of all through the new communism developed by Bob Avakian that is at the heart of the store. More than anything else, Bob Avakian has forged a thoroughly scientific way of understanding the world in all its complexity and changingness, and he’s dug deeply over decades into the rise of the fascism that is now fully in power in this country. All this and so much more is what this store brings to people. The fact that there are fascists in the White House, and fascists terrorizing and murdering in the streets, only makes all this—as well as the whole breadth of titles and programs and the many spheres of knowledge engaged and explored at Revolution Books—even more important than ever. This is why the store will and must stay open!

Heartfelt Statements of Support

One City Council member attended the press conference. A broad range of support statements have come and are continuing to come into the bookstore. Renowned author Ayelet Waldman called Revolution Books “beloved” and “freedom-loving, science-celebrating, creativity-inspiring.” Riess Potterveld, the President of the Graduate Theological Union condemned “intimidation” and called for the “safe exchange of ideas and opinions.” City Lights Booksellers wrote, “We stand in solidarity with our fellow booksellers.” Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Jr., the Senior Pastor of the Allen Temple Baptist Church, condemned the attack by a “violent mob of fascists” on a “book store that has existed in our community for 30 years as an important educational resource, providing access to literature, history, science, art, and philosophy.”

On Tuesday there were other heartfelt statements of support. A member of the Berkeley Animal Rights Center said their volunteers, “were grateful to have been available to come down the corridor and form a wall of nonviolence between our neighbors Revolution Books and the violent people emboldened by hate…we’re proud of the work they do to empower people to resist oppression.”

A representative of the Freedom Socialist Party spoke of the need to make common cause against fascism. Reverend Aaron of Punks for Progress and a volunteer with Refuse Fascism brought the seriousness of the fascist attack into the room—describing how these are the people who recite the “14 words” of loyalty to Hitler, and how they tried to push aside staffers and storm into the bookstore.

Andrea Pritchett, an educator and long-time member of Copwatch, spoke of how her students come back after visiting the store and talk of all they’ve learned and encountered, and the possibilities they don’t get anywhere else. “It’s like we’re cousins,” she said. “You’ve struck a rock. This community is rock solid against fascism. Stay strong Revolution Books, we’re here for you!”

Overall there was a lot of love in the room for Revolution Books and afterward there was important media coverage in Berkeleyside, the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, KPIX / Channel 5 TV News, and elsewhere.

A Niemöller Moment

The attack on Revolution Books is a very dangerous step in the fascist assault on Berkeley. “This is a Niemöller moment,” Redmonde said citing the famous poem from Pastor Martin Niemöller who, after surviving Nazi concentration camps wrote, “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.” She said, “Students, professors, clergy, activists, long time supporters and new friends, everybody who refuses to accept a fascist America, we are calling you to come into Revolution Books this week and beyond, stand with the store, be present and fill the space!”

“With fascist thugs stepping up their assaults from the street from Charlottesville to right at our doors,” Redmonde continued, “with backing and encouragement by the fascist Trump/Pence Regime which is terrorizing Muslims, immigrants, the people of North Korea and more, the mission of Revolution Books is more important than ever.”

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