Fascism and anti-fascism in Boston, USA and Berlin, Germany

Anti-racist protesters march through Boston Common, USA

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Forty thousand protest in Boston against Trump and fascist groups

21 August 2017

A crowd estimated at 40,000 converged on the Boston Common Saturday to protest against racist, anti-Semitic and fascist groups and President Trump’s defense of their deadly rampage last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen marched through the city carrying torches and shouting epithets such as “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil”. They assaulted counter-demonstrators and one neo-Nazi drove his car into a group of antifascists, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding 19 other people.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Trump insisted that the fascist mob included “very fine people” and declared that the violence was provoked by the antifascist demonstrators as well as elements among the far-right marchers.

The Boston protest was called in opposition to a rally by the ultra-right Boston Free Speech Coalition that had been scheduled months before the Charlottesville events. Several neo-Nazis had been listed as speakers.

Boston protesters carried signs denouncing the KKK and fascism and depicting President Trump as a Nazi. Marchers also held posters honoring Heather Heyer.

The counter-protests were organized by two groups. The Stand for Solidarity protest, backed by Answer Coalition Boston … planned a rally outside the State House, on the northeast edge of the Boston Common. Demonstrators organized by Black Lives Matter gathered in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood and marched the two miles to the Common. …

Zanna and Laura (right)

The anti-Trump demonstrations attracted tens of thousands who came to express their outrage over the events of the last week. “I’m here because of what happened in Charlottesville,” Laura said. “I’m against fascism and, in particular, the KKK bothers me. That particular branch coming out into the streets again is really disturbing. It needs to be squashed down.”

She pointed to the reverse side of her sign, which read: “White silence is compliance.” She said, “I just think that people have to stand up and support and protect the people who are being attacked. But in particular, blacks are taking the brunt of police violence… I don’t want people thinking that that’s what white people believe.”

The Boston Police Department (BPD) organized a massive mobilization of city and transit police for the protest. Police Commissioner Bill Evans said there were 500 uniformed police on hand and many plainclothes officers in the crowd. Additional police cameras were mounted throughout the Common for surveillance.

Police ringed the Common and Public Works trucks were stationed to prevent vehicles from driving into the park. Streets surrounding the Common were blocked for vehicle traffic. The BPD threatened to close the protest down if it erupted in violence. In the end, police made 33 arrests, including four on weapons charges and the others for disturbing a public assembly, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Police at the Boston demonstration

Police separated the Free Speech rally from the counter-protesters with barricades and fences. Only a few dozen fascists showed up for their rally at the Parkman Bandstand. The rally, scheduled to begin at noon, was over by about 12:45 p.m. Police escorted the neo-Nazis out of the Common to jeers of “Go home, Nazi scum!”

Police ushered the “free speech” demonstrators to Boston police vans, to be driven to safety and released. Counter-protesters blocked their exit for about 45 minutes. Police wearing riot gear and carrying sticks finally pushed the counter-protesters out of the way, making room for the far-right protesters to leave. A number of arrests were made.

Boston anti-fascist demonstrator Derrick

The counterdemonstration had largely wound down by about 2 p.m. and people began to make their way to the subway. At 3:22 p.m., Trump tweeted: “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

The president then attempted to backtrack on his mischaracterization of the day’s events, tweeting later in the afternoon: “I want to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

In reality, the major focus of the counter-protest was opposition to Trump’s bigoted comments of the previous days in the wake of Charlottesville.


Franny, originally from New Jersey, attends Lesley College in Cambridge, outside of Boston. She explained why she attended the protest. “I’m Jewish, so naturally any gathering of neo-Nazis would offend me,” she said. “But I feel like this is one of the very few events where you can voice your opinions and can stand in a safe place.

“You’re constantly surrounded with news and media of hate, and all this negativity. So it’s really great that people are looking towards equality and a better world.”

She was outraged by President Trump’s comments following the events in Charlottesville: “His first official statement came from a golf club in New Jersey, not even from a press conference from the White House. And saying that you can’t see the difference between anger from white supremacists and anger from those who are angry about the gathering of neo-Nazis. They’re completely different types of hate and anger and to equalize them shows immaturity and ignorance.”

She disagreed, however, with the WSWS reporter’s argument that the working class, as a class, needed to unite politically to fight Trump and the Democrats.

“I feel each economic factor has to go against Trump, even if it’s from the 1 percent,” she said. “Why don’t we attempt to change their positions and their minds? It has to come from every single person, from every single class. Not just working class, not just lower class, not just upper class. This is a social movement.”

Boston anti-fascist marchers

She agreed, however, that the political establishment was being pushed into crisis. “I think this is absolutely going to break the two-party system,” she said. “Because even now you see the splintering off of the Republicans.” …


The WSWS spoke to Valerie, a nurse from North Carolina who grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts. “Honestly, I cannot even believe that we’re here,” she said. “It’s so disheartening for me. Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I feel like we have taken a leap back from all our efforts for social equality and social justice.

“The only good thing that has come out of President Trump’s heinous behavior is that it has exposed how much racism there is in our country. Also, as we saw today, it shows how much more love and compassion and striving for equality there is. But we can’t address things unless they’re exposed.

“Capitalism, it doesn’t work. I mean, how many decades and hundreds of years do we need to show that it just doesn’t?”

Germany: Around 1,500 demonstrators blocked a march on Saturday of some 700 neo-Nazis from the northern Berlin district of Spandau to a former allied prison for war criminals, where they intended to commemorate Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess. Condemned to lifelong imprisonment at the Nuremberg Trials, Hess committed suicide in the prison thirty years ago, on August 17, 1987: here.

8 thoughts on “Fascism and anti-fascism in Boston, USA and Berlin, Germany

  1. Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:05 am (PDT) . Posted by:
    “raccoon” redwoodsaurus

    > http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/liberty-university-alumni-dissent-over-trump_us_59998905e4b01f6e801f156c?section=us_politics
    > Liberty University Alumni To Return Diplomas Over School Official’s Trump Support
    > The protest follows LU President Jerry Falwell Jr. praising Trump’s remarks on the Charlottesville violence.
    > Some Liberty University graduates plan to send back their diplomas to the evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, to protest the college president’s unwavering support of President Donald Trump , which they say has left them “with shame and anger.”
    > As of Sunday afernoon, more than 140 alumni members had expressed support for the “return your diploma” effort on Facebook after university President Jerry Falwell Jr. lauded Trump’s remarks on the recent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “bold” and “truthful.” That praise came despite Trump laying blame for violence on both the rallying hate groups and counterprotesters.
    > A 32-year-woman was killed Aug.12 when a white supremacist allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, and two on-duty Virginia state troopers died that same day when their helicopter crashed.
    > “Anything other than strong condemnation from Trump [of the hate groups] is disappointing,” Georgia Hamann, a 2006 LU graduate and attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, who penned a letter to the school on behalf of the participating alumni’s behalf, told HuffPost on Sunday.
    > Yuri Gripas / Reuters
    > Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is seen standing with Trump following Trump’s commencement speech.
    > The group intends to mail the diplomas to Falwell’s office on Sept. 5, and it also seeks his removal as the school’s president. The letter on the group’s Facebook page says Falwell, son of the university’s founder, has failed to condemn “things which are patently against the religion he and LU claim.”
    > Those actions, the letter says, “have filled us with shame and anger as alums.”
    > “I think all of the alumni have been troubled by Jerry Falwell Jr.’s intense defense of Trump,” Hamann said.
    > Finally a leader in WH. Jobs returning, N Korea backing down, bold truthful stmt about #charlottesville tragedy.So proud of @realdonaldtrump — Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) 8:42 AM – Aug 16, 2017
    > Fellow 2006 graduate Chris Gaumer, who’s a former LU Student Government Association president, echoed that sentiment to HuffPost on Sunday, He called Trump’s comments “disgusting and abhorrent.”
    > “It doesn’t really get too much more important than this,” he said of standing up against the hate groups.
    > In an earlier interview with NPR, Gaumer said that in siding with Trump, Falwell was siding with Nazi and white supremacist sympathizers. That makes him “and it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit,” said Gaumer, who resides in Lynchburg.
    > Falwell defended his words, as well as those of Trump, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. Falwell suggested that Trump laid blame to both sides in the Charlottesville clashes because he “has inside information.”
    > Here’s my entire portion from this morning on @ThisWeekABC talking about the events in Charlottesville.http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/liberty-university-president-jerry-falwell-jr-49319982 … — Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) 9:00 AM – Aug 20, 2017
    > Some of those protesting, Falwell suggested, may have been “historical purists” who were upset about the efforts of Charlottesville officials to remove from a park a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

    > He also noted that as part of his commentary on the Charlottesville violence, Trump had labeled as “evil” white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members.
    > Falwell waved off the alumni protest, saying his support for Trump, which included an endorsement during his presidential campaign, is misunderstood.
    > “One of the reasons why I supported him is because he doesn’t say what’s politically correct,” and “he’s not focus-grouping every word he says,” Falwell said. “My support for the president is his bold and truthful willingness to call terrorist groups by their real names, and that’s something we haven’t seen by presidents in recent years.”
    > Hamann snapped back at that assessment, saying such praise for someone being politically incorrect without concern over the possible repercussions is “just so troubling.”
    > “That can’t be your world view,” she said.


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  6. Wednesday 23rd August 2017

    There are too many similarities between Germany’s and the United States’s neonazi problems, writes VICTOR GROSSMAN

    THE sirens and shouted curses from Charlottesville resounded all too audibly even here in far-off Germany. Little imagination was required; how well we know such brutal faces, twisted with hatred, the racist epithets and threats! Sometimes we even heard the ugly words in German: Sieg Heil!

    Scenarios like that, not only as echoes from the past, have become a part of life in today’s Germany. Almost every weekend, in some town or city, we see the racists and neonazis march, with their hard boots, their flags and fearsome banners, so much like those in Virginia.

    Sometimes just a small, hardcore or private gathering with nationalist songs escalating to texts about gas and Jewish blood. But also big crowds, like four weeks ago in Themar, a hitherto unknown little town in Thuringia, 6,000 gathered for a “rock concert.”

    One sponsor, who runs a nazi restaurant nearby, sold T–shirts marked “HTLR.” The full name is officially taboo but, he explains with a twisted grin, it means only “homeland, tradition, loyalty and respect.”

    Who can object to that? Or to prices of €8.80 — when everyone knows that 8 is letter H in the alphabet, and 88 is code for Heil Hitler! It’s all legal, OK’d by the court. Even a big parking lot was reserved for them.

    Even very decent-looking citizens may join the marching, like in Dresden every Monday for two years. “Who, us? Racists? We only want to defend ‘German culture’ against the inroads of those ‘Islamists!’” With slogans, songs, only now and again with torches and weapons.

    They called themselves Pegida — “patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West.” Then a party was founded by an attractive young entrepreneur and an elderly, respectable professor called Alternative for Germany (AfD).

    It is already treated “fairly” by some in the media — just short of favourably — and will soon have several dozen seats in the national Bundestag; it is already represented in many local and state legislatures.

    Like the booted men or the T-shirt singers, its main voters, its basic programme is “hate the enemies!” In Charlottesville the enemies are sometimes Jewish, but mostly Black or Muslim and if possible weaker, poorer — and somehow different — in colour, clothing, faith.

    And in Germany it’s the same, sometimes Jewish but mostly Turkish or, with the recent refugees, Arab, African, Afghan. A hijab head-covering is sufficient: “A Muslim, an Islamic enemy!”

    While the rabble of Charlottesville finds traditions like those of Robert E Lee or General Nathan Forrest to defend, some Germans have more recent models.

    Last Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess, who as one T-shirt proclaims, “stuck to his principles till the end.”

    The nazi march is to recall the (demolished) site where he was imprisoned. He is honoured every year, but this time, very prominently, in Berlin.

    The nazis came to memorialise Hess, but far fewer than expected showed up. The anti-fascists also failed to gather the hoped-for huge crowds, but it did achieve a clear majority, big enough to stymie the plans of the nazis, who marched less than 500 yards and had to stop, call off their meeting at the Hess site and retreat to the station.

    Except for a few fist-fights there was no violence.

    The day was a genuine defeat for the nazis. As ever the police try to keep the two groups apart, but somehow often seem to protect the right of way of the disciplined, orderly marching nazis while swiftly arresting unruly anti-fascists trying to block their path.

    Compared with Charlottesville, there are differences but too many similarities. No prominent German official risks praising the pro-nazis. Hitler, Hess and the swastika are legally taboo, and there are hardly any “beautiful statues and monuments” to be rescued.

    But here, too, not on Twitter but in very respectable media, there are statesmen who denounce not only pronazis but “extremists on the left and the right.” Those “antifas” are also a bad bunch. They sometimes break windows and set cars on fire.

    Indeed, such things occur now and then, and represent a genuine problem, especially because there is a suspicion, occasionally backed up by facts, that behind the masks and balaclavas are not only angry anti-nazis but some who love wreckage, some who love alcohol and perhaps throwing the first stones or torches, some agents provocateurs granting the media what they require while ignoring or smearing a great majority marching to oppose racism and fascism — and who may even, very peacefully, tear down a racist flag or statue here and there.

    Behind carefully worded denunciations of “both the left and the right” some elderly German survivors hear fearsome echoes, recall Germany’s past with dread and look forward with anxiety, not only for Germany.

    They know where such boots, straight-arm salutes — and “neutrality” can lead.

    In the German elections on September 24 our smiling, sensible and goodnatured Chancellor Angela Merkel, so long friendly to refugees and motherly to all good Germans, seems very likely to help her party win again.

    She is very much an opposite to US President Donald Trump; she even disagrees openly with him.

    But oh, her lieutenants. While Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt bows low to his friends in a pollution-friendly auto industry, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble continues squeezing every last euro from the poorer countries of southern Europe and breaking all resistance. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen calls for more billions for defence, sends troops to the deserts of Mali, the mountains of Afghanistan and, more dangerously by far, to the borders of Russia within earshot of Kaliningrad and St Petersburg.

    With every new scandal about nazi-era traditions in her Bundeswehr, she calls for renewed cleansing — which somehow never succeeds. And Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, after false, distorted reports on the “riots” in Hamburg, denounces demonstrators, stresses only the few violent ones and proposes that “we should require them to report to the police at regular intervals and, if need be, wear electronic ankle monitors” while he moves toward the extension of lasting monitoring of everyone — to the last telephone call, email or visit to a public place.

    Recent leaks indicated mysterious ties between police or FBI-equivalents with anti-foreigner murders. Who in the end would be defined as “leftist extremists?” Also those who demonstrate on climate, for peace and solidarity?

    No, Germany has no exact equivalent of the White House cabal; its leaders are highly educated and circumspect in their speeches. But growing threats in both countries are far too similar. The dangers, especially if some great crisis should hit again, are cause for alarm.

    In both countries — and elsewhere — there is courageous opposition to such threats. Many organisations resist racism, repression, massive armament build-ups and provocations — and the suffering of those hit by deprivation at home or abroad.

    There are many heroic models in the past — in Germany and the US. Growing unity is perhaps the only key to locking the door on the forces of hatred and bloodshed, from Charlottesville to Thuringia, from Washington to Berlin.



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