A Report Back From the Counter-Demonstration for the KC “March Against Sharia”
On Saturday the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America staged a so-called “March Against Sharia” at Washington Square Park in downtown Kansas City, as part of a larger nationwide event. Standing alongside ACT were members of the fascist 3%er militia, and other assorted white supremacists and neo-nazis. The pretense of “Sharia Law” was just a dog-whistle for extremist right-wing hate groups to spread their filth and try to organize unassuming Republicans and closet racists for their genocidal cause. As Communists, we stand with the Muslim community and with all those who are targeted by fascist hatred and slander.
Antifa arrived on the scene a couple hours prior to the event hoping to snuff it out, but by that time, a dozen 3%ers were already at the park with their KCPD escort. The 3%ers were hired and paid by ACT to provide additional security and to help escort people out. They carried side arms, wore Kevlar vests and other paramilitary gear. They kept their AR’s in their trucks, which were parked at various spots. While many anti-fascists have started carrying side arms and are prepared to use lethal force if forced to, we were still heavily outgunned. This is a gap we are working to close, as should all anti-fascists. The left must rid itself of liberal and petty-bourgeois attitudes regarding firearms and embrace the gun to defend ourselves against the rising fascist threat. This is the position we are in, and we have no other options.
The KCPD pigs erected a fence around the fascists, and deployed their units around the fence with ATV’s, horses, tear gas cannons, and spy drones. Twenty feet or so outside of the fence KCPD put up police tape, and threatened to arrest anyone who crossed it. By the time the bulk of the anti-fascists arrived, the fascists were confined to a small corner of the park surrounded by three layers of protection. As usual the pigs didn’t even pretend to be neutral, focusing all their efforts on the anti-fascists and ignoring the fascists except for when they were coordinating details.
Aside from security, the “March Against Sharia” seemed incredibly unorganized. The fascists never managed to actually march anywhere, and the rally was contained inside their small pig pen the entire time leaving them unable to prey on the public. Antifa and other assembled counter-protesters set up speakers and blasted music and loud disruptive noise, and used megaphones to mock the clowns who would believe that ISIS is about to take over Kansas City.
The fascists did a low energy pledge of allegiance to the US flag and a couple of times huddled up into a tight group attempting to give poorly written speeches. For most of the four-hour event, the fascists faced the inside of the park and spent all their energy yelling slurs and other insults at our side. Their speeches were entirely contained to their group, although it is doubtful that any of them could hear much. They had no speakers or megaphones, and even the insults they were screaming were difficult to hear from where the anti-fascist stood. All the hatred they intended to spew was lost in their own echo chamber. Meanwhile, it was clear from the occasional angry outburst behind the fence that our speakers were heard over on their side loud and clear.
At one point the fascists switched directions and moved to face the street, but Antifa maneuvered around quickly and continued to confront them. Fearing escalation and unprepared to control the situation on the street, the KCPD soon ushered the fascists back to the side of the pen that was facing the park, where Antifa met them and continued the disruptions.
The Antifa side ultimately succeeded in sequestering, silencing and distracting the bigots. Their rally was bogged down at every turn, and they were unable to march. Coming and going they had to be escorted by the pigs. Antifa was ready to go toe-to-toe with the fascists, while they hid like the cowards they are behind a KCPD fence and a city permit. Antifa showed up organized and prepared, and shut down any attempts by weak-willed liberals and NGO sellouts to contain our righteous anger. There were so many red flags and hammer and sickles, that even the KC Star had to acknowledge the heavy Communist presence. Aside from one or two exceptions, the passerby’s gave us lots of support and some even joined us.
With about 100 people on our side, we out numbered them but only by a slim margin, which is something we are not used to and is a serious concern. Many of the 3%ers and alt-right losers drove in from all around Kansas and Missouri and some had plates from Arizona. Most of the Antifa side was made up of people who are connected to local leftist organizations, with Communists making up a majority of the crowd. While it is good that we are able to absorb people into our ranks and summon a sizeable crowd of militants, we must help spread anti-fascist sentiment among the masses of people in Kansas City. We cannot rely on social media to do this for us, and must go to where the people are and propagate a militant anti-fascism. We need to get out large swaths of people from the Westside, the Eastside, the Northeast and all of Kansas City to show up and confront the fascists head on. The people of Kansas City despise fascism and everything that this group of outsiders represents, so it is our responsibility as Communists and anti-fascists to agitate and spread propaganda amongst them and to organize with them to defeat this threat.
We believe that fascists should not have any space to spread their genocidal rhetoric, no matter what front group they are pretending to hide behind. Every single fascist should get punched in the face like Richard Spencer, until they are driven back into the holes they crawled out of. These people were openly calling for the eradication of Islam, while guarded by the fascist 3%ers militia and the KCPD. They had crypto-fascist shirts and other white supremacist symbols on display. There is no question that these are people who, if they had their way, would not only attempt to eradicate just Islam, but all minorities and ideologies that they deem inferior or a threat. The KCPD pigs are happy to protect these fascists, even embrace them, as they continue to grow.
We must do better and work to summon five, ten, twenty times their number whenever fascists show their faces on our streets. We should make it our goal to not only sequester and silence the fascists, but to completely shut down and prevent future events from taking place. This means we must draw enough people to swamp both the pigs and the fascists, so that Antifa militants can break through the police lines and smash into the fascists. If the pigs continue to stand in our way and protect the fascists, we need to prepare large numbers of people to do battle with them too. If the local press continues to provide a platform for fascists to spread their genocidal and Islamophobic rhetoric, we must stop them also. If we have them matched in terms of firepower, we believe it will act as a deterrent, helping us avoid any armed confrontation and keeping everyone safer, even if we move in to shut the fascists down with sticks, stones and fists.
With the numbers we had on Saturday and the limited firepower, going into such a confrontation with both the pigs and the fascists would have been a serious error. If we can mobilize the people of Kansas City and have them at our backs, a force of 100-200 trained and organized militant anti-fascists would be able to pummel a group of this size. One advantage we had was that all of our people were locals, whereas they had to carpool people in from rural areas all around Kansas and Missouri. We can assume that most of the active 3%ers in the surrounding area were present at this event, since some of them came from as far as St Louis (or at least were spotted recently in St Louis at a pro-Confederate event).
A few hours into the competing protests, the 3%ers broke out into groups of four to six, and set up at least three different points that formed a rough perimeter a block or two outside the park, using large crowds of people to try and hide themselves. They did this not only to help escort their people out, but to try and get the license plates of anti-fascists and who knows what else. Our on-the-ground intel was solid on this, and we were quick to mobilize a plan to get our people safely into their cars, but despite this, some Antifa were followed by 3%ers and had their license plates taken and cars identified. In the future we need to have a prepared plan in place to avoid this.
The fascist’s permit was up at 2 p.m., and aside from the event organizers and the hired 3%ers, most of them had been escorted out prior to the deadline. At that time the KCPD took down the tape and Antifa moved in as the remaining fascists stood terrified behind their fence. The fence was pulled back, and Antifa moved in for the only close-up confrontation of the day. One of the more annoying fascists, who Antifa dubbed “Chad,” tried yelling at people with a Toys-R-Us megaphone they had picked up midway through their event. An anti-fascist quickly swatted the megaphone out of Chad’s hand, breaking it to pieces, before KCPD moved in with their riot gear and broke the crowd up, threatening our side with batons and chemical weapons while again ignoring the quivering fascists.
Our primary errors were letting the fascists outmatch us in firepower, failing to mobilize large sections of the masses outside of the pre-existing left, and our inability to completely shut down the event. Our primary successes were containing and silencing the fascists, preventing them from marching, and our overall superior organization.
Fascism poses an existential threat to all oppressed and working people, and we must work to organize like our lives are at stake, because they are. We will not underestimate this threat. Our collective and the mass organizations we work with have been targeted and threatened by these fascists for more than a year. We have been honing our self-defense and security culture in that time, but we need to go further and do better.
The area fascists, along with the KCPD, rightly identify Communists as the primary enemy to fascism. After all, it was the Communists who stopped the Nazi’s Blitzkrieg in its tracks, and destroyed them in their millions before marching into Germany and splitting it in half. Whenever the fascist threat rears its head, you can count on Communists to be on the frontlines ready to give our lives to protect our communities. We call on all people in Kansas City who hate fascism to embrace discipline and organization, to get in touch with KCRC or other revolutionary and anti-fascist organizations like the Progressive Youth Organization or Serve The People, so that we can continue to build the ranks of Antifa and defeat this threat once and for all.
DEATH TO FASCISTS!