The following is a statement from the Stop Spencer at MSU Coalition, one month after the group “helped drive the Alt-Right off the streets and back onto the internet.”
One month ago, on March 5th, 500 protesters from all walks of life – community members, college students, activists, university staff and faculty, and those defying categorization – converged on the MSU Pavilion to protect and defend our community from Neo-Nazi Spencer and the fascists that follow him. We came to show them that we are many and they are few, that they cannot continue to meet in public without resistance, that they and their racist and genocidal movement will NEVER win. Together, we succeeded.
We not only prevented the ENTIRETY of the Traditionalist Worker Party (which has since imploded) AND the Michigan and Illinois chapters of Patriot Front from even entering Spencer’s speech: our collective action scared Spencer so much that he cancelled the rest of his “college tour”. We also know from leaked Discord chats that Patriot Front was planning some sort of masked street action for the night of March 5th – this never happened. They were so demoralized after the events of midday that they gave up their plans. Let’s not mince words: on March 5th, the MSU community and supporters from around the country laid the death blow to the already-dying current public formation of Nazi “Alt-Right” movement.
In addition to STOPPING their movement, we also succeeded in BUILDING ours. The mobilization on March 5th was a huge success for continuing to build community power against fascism and racism. What we did on March 5th we did together, strengthening a larger network of neighbors, workers, students, and activists. Stop Spencer MSU built our coalition by organizing community meetings and discussions open to the public. We know that all sorts of people are pissed off at the world we live in, at the society run by profit-hungry racists and abusers. So we accepted the challenge: in a town where there are almost zero confrontations on the street, we decided to organize a mass mobilization. And we wanted to do so without shying away from our politics. We welcomed a diverse range of people with many different backgrounds and ideas. This was a sometimes messy, but always necessary process in order to build a movement that is truly of the people. The skills and resources that all of our coalition members contributed were invaluable to our success against Spencer and the rest of the Nazis. We are only as strong as the people who support us and make up our coalition, and March 5th showed that we are VERY strong. We organized mass, community, accessible antifascism because it both makes us stronger in the streets and because it is a part of our larger mission to build the world we want to see – a world with collective networks of care, solidarity, and struggle. We view March 5th as one day (albeit an important day), in a series of many days building towards this world. Therefore, we claim this victory not just as a coalition but as one single part of a larger community and a larger movement that is united to resist fascist attacks.
So we should celebrate this victory. But of course the struggle against white supremacy is far from over. While this was a major win, as long as the Alt-Right and other white supremacist movements and institutions exist they will continue attempting to organize and attack us. The racist attacks of the state continue: I.C.E. raids kidnap our friends and neighbors, killer cops murder black youth with impunity, and the archipelago of the prison system cages and tortures millions of the working class, especially black and brown people. As far as the Alt-Right, Spencer himself told the Washington Post recently that he will still attempt to visit college campuses – but this time, without publicizing his events in advance. Also, with their movements forced underground, frustrated fascists might switch to violent and dangerous “lone wolf” tactics. We need to be on the lookout for changes in their strategy to be able to adapt our own methods and counter them effectively. That said, we have already seen that we can effectively out-organize the Alt-Right, and we WILL do it again, no matter how their strategy changes!
We also want to address the portrayal of violence on March 5th. Some local and national news agencies have published articles that focus almost exclusively on the subject of violence at the protest. Because of this, we have run into objections to the M5 blockade from our co-workers, family, friends, and of course social media commentators. This narrative is being used to argue that anti-fascists are destructive proponents of unnecessary violence.
While we believe that there is so much more to antifascist organizing than punching Nazis, we maintain that all of the actions taken on March 5th were acts of community self-defense. The Nazis preach and incite genocide and hate crimes and their movements are damaging, hateful, and incredibly threatening to the people they target. White supremacists and the Alt-Right murdered 22 people last year. Their movements are more violent than a few punches could ever be. In the face of this violence, it is important that as we build our movement we are careful to not condemn the actions of others, even if they are actions that we would not take ourselves. At the same time, we think it is important that we build a movement that doesn’t love violence. The nazis and the fascists- they love violence. They thrive on it, they seek it out, they want a world held together by violence. So for us, it is important to do two things: not condemn the actions of our fellow anti-fascists AND build a movement that doesn’t love violence for violence’s sake. On March 5th we intentionally did not put forth our own solutions or tactics to resisting Spencer’s speech beyond a call for “mass community antifascism”. And we stand in complete solidarity with all protesters who united to protect our community from the fascists.
As we both celebrate this victory and continue the fight, we encourage all of the new anti-fascists who showed up on March 5th to get involved in local projects and organizations that struggle against white supremacy and all forms of oppression and domination. There are too many of these to count, which is great, but it is also important to be mindful when reaching out to new groups. If you are looking to get involved in a new organization, do a little research before hand. What does a group say about itself? What do people critical of the group say about them? What are the group’s values and how do they align with your values?
On Monday March 5th, we struck an important blow to the Alt-Right movement, a movement that dreams of genocide and racist violence. In doing so, we strengthened our relationships with old friends, made new relationships with new friends, and learned a little bit about what we can collectively accomplish when we love and support each other in the street. And the bonds and relationships we built that day will be carried forward into the next struggle. We literally chased Richard Spencer and his supporters out of Lansing. Our movement won the day on March 5th. Let’s keep organizing: tomorrow we can win some more.
–The Stop Spencer at MSU Coalition, April 5th, 2018