Washington, DC 20548
As members of the racist far right group “Proud Boys” host a so-called “free speech” rally in Washington DC on Sunday, June 25, activists, antifascists, and members of marginalized communities will host their own “Really Really Free Speech Rally” speakout across town at DC police headquarters to call attention to the hypocrisy of the far right’s rhetoric on “free speech.” Organizers of the speakout at police headquarters will host speakers from communities that are actually having their rights threatened, such as immigrants, Muslims, brown and black people, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, indigenous people, and others who hail from marginalized communities. Speakers will also include representatives of those who were arrested during the J20 protests at the inauguration of Donald Trump.
“We intend to demonstrate that, actually, we are the ones having our rights to free speech imperiled, despite the fact that the far right throws around the term ‘free speech’ all the time,” says Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Executive Director of One People’s Project. “While we are monitoring what the Proud Boys are doing, after the dramatic events of the past several weeks, we feel it is important that the public hears our concerns.”
While rallies have been held by the far right purport to promote free speech, they have been revealed to be more of an attempt to provoke physical confrontations with those they politically disagree with. Recently, the country has grown alarmed after an attendee of a Portland “Free Speech Rally,” Jeremy Christian, fatally stabbed two people on a train. Many right wing commenters have either failed to condemn Christian’s actions or offered often-anonymous endorsements of his deadly violence. At a so-called “free speech rally” this past weekend in Portland, police violence, euphemistically called “closing” a park and “seizing” items to include a large, harmless puppet that was central to the protest, incited self defense measures by activists, to include throwing projectiles. Mainstream media has widely been vilifying antifascist counter-protesters while ignoring the fact that Portland police have actual Nazis in their ranks, such as Captain Mark Kruger.
On the Facebook event page for the Proud Boys DC rally, they are encouraging attendees to bring “protective gear” while one person asked what would be the “legal blade size I can carry on my hip In DC”, to which the main organizer Colton Merwin told the person he would message him privately. Another poster noted later in the post that police will confiscate any knife they find. Concerns for the safety of families and visitors to DC in light of this have been raised.
The speakout at police headquarters is being organized by an ad hoc group consisting of dozens of experienced organizers in the Washington DC area, to include anarchists, communists, socialists, antifascists, and other left-leaning and anticapitalist individuals. Those who have been invited to speak include members of marginalized communities who face extreme repression every day on the streets, have been targeted by hate crimes, and are facing a crackdown on dissent from the state.
“The struggle against fascism, and the protests at the events of the far right, this has never been about free speech,” said Lacy MacAuley, member of the DC Antifascist Coalition and new Program Director at One People’s Project. “We resist precisely because they have already spoken, and we have listened, we have heard them, and we recognize that they are mobilizing to violate our rights. Protesting them is not an act of violating their rights, it is an act of defending our own rights – such as our basic right to exist.”
The speakout is planned for Sunday, June 25, 12 PM – 3 PM at DC Metro Police headquarters in Judiciary Square, Washington DC, and will feature speakers, music, and entertainment.
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CALL TO ACTION – Released by organizers
We won’t let the right-wing steal our free speech. We won’t let the police steal our right to protest. We won’t let the state steal our right to exist. Marginalized people, activists, and workers face escalating state repression. Communities combating capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression need freedom of speech and protest to protect themselves. Take away our ability to exist and organize openly, and the door to fascism opens wider.
In January, over 200 activists were arrested and are facing unjust and outrageous charges as a result of the #DisruptJ20 protests at Trump’s Inauguration. Freedom of expression for marginalized communities has never been guaranteed in the United States, and state repression is only getting worse—nationally under Trump, and locally under the newly confirmed police chief, Peter Newsham.
Join us for a speakout against fascism and state repression at Washington DC Metro Police Headquarters on Sunday, June 25, at 12:00 PM.
Who are antifa? Antifascists are all those who oppose authoritarianism and totalitarianism. We are people of color who resist the injustice and oppression of racism every day. We are the Kurdish grandmothers who bake bread for the resistance in Turkish Kurdistan. We are LGBTQIA and gender-nonconforming people whose lives have become a battleground. We are the immigrant communities who raise our voices against the deafening anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country and elsewhere. We are the indigenous people who have been fighting oppression since the first invaders arrived in this hemisphere. We are women who struggle against inequality every day. We are activists arrested, charged, and persecuted for speaking out against oppression. We are everyone facing repression under newly-appointed DC police chief Peter Newsham. We are everyone who believes in freedom and consent. We all have a common interest in opposing fascism.
As antifascists, we must stand together to confront state repression in our own communities. We are the ones who are in danger of having the state take away our free speech, as they raise the price of dissent to an impossible level. We are the ones being brutalized by police as they wage their wars on drugs, on the poor, on being black in Amerikkka. We are the ones who face threats from the militarized right wing, as shown by the tragic death of Richard Collins III on the campus of University of Maryland, the shooting of antifascist Josh Dukes, a Trump fan outside a Milo Yiannopoulos event in Seattle, and the brutal police killings of black Americans throughout the year.
The right wing can have their sham “free speech” rallies, but we know they are mobilizing to deny even the right to exist to those who don’t look like them. They can wave their flags, as if they have forgotten that their stars are stolen indigenous land and their stripes are the blood of the poor and the enslaved. Unlike the right wing, we actually are facing state repression and we have a legitimate fear of our speech being taken away—repression that the fascists hypocritically endorse. We must rally together to show all that we won’t be silenced, and we won’t let the state or the right wing mobilize to take our right to assemble, our right to protest, or our right to exist. We will rally at the headquarters of one of the worst suppressors and deniers of speech—the police.
All of those who struggle against fascism, against racism, against state repression are invited to join us!
Freedom of Speech! Freedom from Police! Resist Fascism!
NOTE: The speakout at police headquarters is being organized by an ad hoc group consisting of dozens of experienced organizers in the Washington DC area, to include anarchists, communists, socialists, antifascists, and other left-leaning and anticapitalist individuals. This Call to Action was created by a media committee of that ad hoc group and consented on by the larger group. Those who have been invited to speak include members of marginalized communities who face extreme repression every day on the streets, have been targeted by hate crimes, and are facing a crackdown on dissent from the state.