The state capital of Texas is a powderkeg.
A Brief Timeline of Recent Fascist Activity In Austin, Texas which I created for “Austin’s Least Wanted,” an upcoming zine from Oh Shit! What Now?
- Summer 2016 – present: Emboldened by the increasing success of Donald Trump and the “alt-right” fascist agenda, white supremacist groups step up recruiting and propaganda efforts on college campuses. Racist posters & graffiti tied to white supremacist groups like Vanguard America and Identity Evropa routinely appear on and around UT Austin.
- October 26, 2016: UT Austin police arrest three anti-fascist activists after a group of antifa cover up racist graffiti (a Celtic Cross) outside the Blanton Museum of Art.
- November 19, 2016: The hate group “White Lives Matter” stages a protest outside the Texas Capitol to coincide with the unveiling of the African American History Memorial. The white supremacists are met by an overwhelming force of counter protesters, but are defended by Austin Police Department horse cops and Texas DPS State Troopers in armored riot gear. A handful of arrests are made but the fascist event is effectively surrounded and shut down.
- March 4, 2017: The far right rallies at Woolridge Square park as part of a national “March 4 Trump” day of action on “Confederate Flag Day.” Local organizers include known fascist Jennifer Drabbant. Trump supporters happily march and rally side by side with neo-nazis and fascist 4chan trolls. A small counter-protest is surrounded by violent fascists, including Gregorio Rendon who assaults activist and gonzo journalist Kit O’Connell by slamming him head-first into a lamp post. Kit is arrested by Austin Police Department and charged with misdemeanor assault, while Gregorio is briefly held in cuffs than released without charges. Kit is admitted to the hospital with injuries to his head, arm and leg.
- Mid-April 2017-present: In the wake of graffiti accusing UT Austin frats of being “rapists” and “racists” (placed on some of the most notoriously racist and sexist frat houses), Austin fascists begin deepening their ties with the frat houses, some of whom threaten to begin anti-Immigrant/anti-Leftist campus “safety patrols” on campus.
- April 4, 2017: Racist fliers targeting Chinese-American and other Asian students appear on the UT Austin campus.
- April 17, 2017: Austin residents find plastic Easter eggs on their lawns filled with white supremacist propaganda. These Easter eggs appear again near Austin’s Mexican American Cultural Center a month later.
- April 23, 2017: Antifascist activists confront Sydney Crabtree and a small group of allied Austin fascists putting up Identity Evropa posters on the UT campus. One of Sydney’s friends assaults the antifa, and witnesses call the police, ultimately resulting in the fascists being removed from campus. Another group of fascists posting Identity Evropa propaganda publish a photo of themselves performing a nazi salute in front of UT Austin’s statue of MLK, taken that same night.
- May 1, 2017: A May Day March in downtown Austin organized by local communists, with support from anarchists and radical left activists, is surrounded and outnumbered by a fascist coalition consisting of neo-nazis, militia members, Open Carry Texas and White Lives Matter. The May Day March is violently attacked and prevented from marching. Fascists present include Ken Reed, William Fears and Sydney Crabtree. Austin Police protect the fascists while allowing them to carry out violent attacks on the marchers. There are unconfirmed reports of at least one assault on a person of color by white supremacists that night in South Austin.Both local and national fascists are quick to blame antifa and liberals for a stabbing which occurred earlier that same day on the UT Austin campus, despite a total lack of evidence linking the perpetrator to activism of any kind. Anti-black fliers appear on campus the following day.
- May 7, 2017: Under intense online pressure, Sydney Crabtree is fired from her job at Aroma Italian restaurant.
- May 23, 2017: Paul Gray, neo-nazi, is fired from his job at South Congress Hotel under pressure from antifa activists. Gray is the brother of Rebecca Gray, manager of the Blue Cat Cafe, frequently the target anti-gentrification activists.Local fascist Austin Beaty is soon fired from his job as a lifeguard at City of Austin public pools, but remains employed as a bouncer at the LGBTQIA bar Highland Lounge despite community pressure and protest.
- June 10, 2017: Islamophobes attempt to hold a rally at the Capitol gates as part of a national “March Against Sharia” declared by the anti-Muslim organization ACT for America, but are drowned out by a massive noise demonstration counterprotest. Austin antifascists and other activists resist police violence from armored State Troopers and constant threats by the Islamophobes and fascists, who are supported by armed militia members, rallying for hours in the hot sun. Despite backing from Sydney Crabtree, who appears wearing a white sheet and Make America Great Again hat, and other neo-nazis, the Islamophobes are unable to march or hold their speeches and are driven out of Austin with their tail between their legs.
- June 11, 2017: Anti-gentrification activists protesting the Blue Cat Cafe in East Austin are attacked by white supremacists, including Paul Gray. Austin Police arrest two of the anti-gentrification activists after they defend themselves and fight off the fascists. Though Rebecca Gray had previously courted support from Infowars and White Lives Matter, the attack represents the most clear evidence yet of direct ties between the cat cafe and fascist groups. Within weeks, Rebecca announces she is stepping down from cafe management.
- June 13, 2017: Swastika graffiti appears overnight on the cars of South Austin residents.
- June 17, 2017: White supremacists, using the name “Tomorrow Belongs To Texas,” hold a rally on the steps of the State Capitol, including members of Vanguard America and the neo-nazi Traditionalist Workers Party. They later hold a private party at Scholz Garten, a bier garden which is a popular liberal gathering place. There, the nazis cross paths with activists from Indivisible Austin, who are also meeting at Scholz. The fascists vandalize an Indivisible activist’s car and hurl Anti-Semitic slurs at an elderly Indivisible activist. On a podcast released soon after, members of the fascist group brag about assaulting LGBTQIA folks and other marginalized people later that night on and around 6th Street.Scholz Garten apologizes for hosting the white supremacist group, as does Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Republican lawmaker from Tyler who sponsored their rally at the Capitol. While both claim to have been misled into believing the rally was a “veterans’ group,” Schaefer is known for his support of racist legislation such as #SB4, the anti-Sanctuary city, anti-immigrant “show us your papers” bill passed by the Texas Legislature in the most recent session.
- July 1, 2017: Previous organizers of the Austin March 4 Trump call for a “1776 Freedom March,” again meeting at Woolridge Square park. Fascist “celebrities” are scheduled to fly in for the event, including Kyle Chapman, better known as “Based Stickman” for his violent, stick-based assaults on antifa activists, and Augustus Invictus, a white nationalist Libertarian accused of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Although I’ve lived through this timeline of events to one extent or another, it still startled me to see it all laid out in this time line. It makes it harder than ever to deny that Austin, and the United States’ nazi problem, is getting worse. This timeline also makes it clear we can’t simply ignore this problem and hope it goes away: we must fight back.