For those curious whether Antifa tactics can actually deliver the goods when it comes to disrupting fascist organizing efforts, the activity surrounding white supremacist Richard Spencer’s early March visit to Michigan should serve as a resounding, “Yes!” The alt-right leader, who heads the racist National Policy Institute and wants to turn the U.S. into an exclusively white ethno-state, canceled the remaining dates of a college campus speaking tour after being confronted by a militant antifascist presence during a stop at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
Fighting broke out March 5, when 500 protesters, a mix of both militants and more liberal demonstrators, confronted 40 white power scumbags walking towards a college building to hear Spencer’s racist blathering. Police arrested both fascists and their antifascist opponents on a variety of misdemeanors and felony charges. Although 150 tickets were sold for the event, only about three dozen people actually showed up for Spencer’s racist dog and pony show.
The previous day, attendees of a related alt-right conference taking place in Detroit suburbs were forced to scramble when two venues, the Carpathia Club in Sterling Heights and Tipsy McStaggers in Warren, canceled their events after the Foundation for the Market Place of Ideas sponsoring the get-togethers was publicly exposed as a white nationalist organization front group.
Kyle Bristow, a right-wing lawyer representing Spencer in his legal efforts to force MSU to allow his event on the university campus, distanced himself from the alt-right due to negative press coverage and quit as the director of Foundation for the Market Place of Ideas. Another attorney has taken over a similar lawsuit to let Spencer speak at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Thanks to successful antifa organizing in Michigan, Spencer is now so demoralized that he’s admitted he’s afraid to show up in public. On a recent video posted to an alt-right YouTube channel, he said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to host an event that’s wide open to the public in which we name the date and the time.
“If we do that in advance,” he continued. “antifa are going to do their thing and if the campus police or state police or local police aren’t ultimately willing to free up a corridor [to help people get in] then I don’t simply want to repeat Michigan.”
In other cheery news, the Traditionalist Workers Party, one of the neo-Nazi groups attending Spencer’s East Lansing talk, has imploded after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, was arrested in Paoli, Indiana for assaulting his wife and party spokesman David Parrott in a violent incident linked to what’s thought to have been a bizarre lover’s quarrel.
While all this is cause for celebration, it’s important to remember that antifa people are facing serious consequences for their bravery in taking action to stop Spencer and his fellow fascists. Twenty-four anti-fascist protesters were arrested and 13 face felony charges.
Although $30,000 has been raised so far to support them in court, all of that has gone to bail and more money is desperately needed to help the M5 defendants (as they’re being called after the date of the action) to meet legal costs.
Supporters can donate online at: fundedjustice.com/stopspencermsu. Those interested in helping in a more direct way should consider holding a local fundraiser to assist the defendants and raise awareness about the fight against fascism.
C’mon everybody, it’s time to show our comrades we care!
Cody Constructor is an activist and writer based in Detroit who is down to fight fascists whenever the need arises.