200 of us chanted as we marched up Beacon Street to the Massachusetts State House in Boston last Saturday (June 2nd). The “2nd Amendment Rally” was already assembled at the State House steps, and the roughly 30 attendees weren’t thrilled by our arrival. All of a sudden, their PA had to compete with our voices and noisemakers. Unless you were positioned directly in front of their loudspeaker (and there are a few videos taken from this vantage point), you couldn’t hear anything they had to say.
The counter rally was organized by Stand Against Hate – Boston, a coalition that includes the Boston branches of Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Socialists of America, and SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) among others. We were there in opposition to the rally being used as a recruitment tool by the racist far-right.
The “2nd Amendment Rally” was organized by Resist Marxism, a group whose founder, Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, is mostly known for brawling with antifascists. Despite Resist Marxism’s claims that they’re not a racist group and that they don’t accept racists in their movement, there’s evidence to the contrary.
Their attendees included at least one member of the American Guard, a group with confirmed chapters in 12 states that frequently acts as “security” at far-right rallies. Their founder Brien James, who also founded the white supremacist Vinlanders Social Club, claims the group isn’t racist. However, their membership has extensive ties to the white nationalist movement.
Michael Moura, a Resist Marxism organizer and speaker, kept a Confederate flag at the back of the rally, leaning against the State House gate where it was (perhaps conveniently) mostly obscured from view.
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The political spectrum of far-right attendees ranged from the “alt-lite” (basically the alt-right but without the explicit white nationalist identity politics) to fascists, and it was pretty clear who was who. Camouflaged anti-gun control protesters waved “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. There were a couple 4channers, one of whom wore a Pepe the Frog mask and danced awkwardly throughout the rally. There might have been some Proud Boys there, but they weren’t wearing the usual black Fred Perry, so either the New England branch is making a fashion statement, or they were just preppy right-wing hipsters.
But this is exactly the audience that’s most susceptible to racist ideologies. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented how some white nationalists were gradually radicalized by alt-lite figures like Gavin McInnes. What began as ironically fascist commentary eventually became sincere fascist activity.
Members of Boston Free Speech, a far-right group that claims to advocate for speech from “all sides of the political spectrum,” were dressed all in blue and wearing masks and sunglasses. It was a real Taliban-lite look (the term “Vanilla ISIS” comes to mind) and an ironic one at that. These guys have been yelling in antifascists’ faces for years about how “cowardly” it is to wear masks at protests. Here they were doing exactly that (and facing criticism from other conservatives on their Facebook page for it), apparently having learned a little about security culture. Turns out, they don’t like being doxxed either.
Their speaker pulled a Trump and started screaming about crowd size. “Last August, you outnumbered us a thousand to one! You think that you can deter us with THIS?” He was referring to last August’s antiracist rally at which over 30,000 of us surrounded Resist Marxism’s 30 on the Boston Common. The Boston PD had to step in and cart the far-right to safety in the backs of police vans. This all took place a week after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of antifascists, injuring 19 people and killing 32 year-old Heather Heyer.
Despite unintentionally pointing out how the far-right is consistently outnumbered at their own rallies, he had a point. Expecting 30,000 antifascists to show up at every rally is unrealistic, but a turnout of 200 (even compared with Resist Marxism’s 30 people) is less than ideal. It’s important to maintain a consistent and massive opposition to them whenever and wherever they show up, especially due to the emboldening of fascists in the Trump era. Some of us would like to think they’ll go away of their own accord, but after the events of “Unite the Right,” that’s not a chance worth taking. Let’s continue encouraging one another to confront fascists and show them they’re not welcome in our communities.