Workers’ Voice statement; 8/27/17
Workers and community people today showed their numbers against the neo-Nazis and alt right groups that called a “No to Marxism” rally. In reality, the racists were scared and defeated and only a few dozens showed up. No pasarán… y no pasaron!
Our Berkeley Rally Against Hate, with more than 10 union endorsements, the vast majority of socialist groups and many community and faith organizations, gathered 3,000 people at Oxford and Addison, where we had a diverse program of speakers. After we marched to downtown to show our power and determination to combat racism, white supremacy and fascism and then joined the SURJ contingent and we were joined by a 500 people march of the religious community. The day of action ended with a total defeat of the right-wing forces in MLK plaza in downtown Berkeley.
We the socialists (ISO, Workers’s Voice and DSA) spoke at the Berkeley Rally Against Hate, and there were other groups present like the Left Party, Socialist Action, and Socialist Alternative. We built a principled united front and we were successful in showing a united and democratic leadership. We showed that workers run this city, we reminded folks of the centuries of colonial oppression the U.S. government has supported and still does and we made clear our class enemies in all sizes and shapes.
Today, however, the University of California administration, Chancellor Chris and UCPD showed their true colors: they, who are so concerned about the free speech of Steve Bannon or Milo Yiannopoulos, sent constant scary and unfounded messages to all students and workers telling them to “stay away” of our peaceful rally. They furthermore fenced the night before the whole grass perimeter where we were supposed to protest with concrete barriers, and they established one entrance with a “security checkpoint”, forbidding banners, signs, backpacks, food, and water, among many other things. They wanted to heavily restrict the democratic and political character of our rally, and they created a huge safety hazard if we had chosen to protest in their little cage, for people could not move freely.
We refused to protest surround and checked by the cops because we refused to defend our democracy and rights under the policy leadership of a university that equates “free speech” with “Steve Bannon” and fascism. This is why we peacefully assembled in the street next to the grass fenced perimeter and guaranteed our rally with our own security force, to ensure the peace of our people, to drive away provocateurs, and to allow people to fully express themselves politically and artistically as they wished. And we won.
Today also the City of Berkeley and its Mayor Arreguin showed their true colors: their double-face opportunistic politics and their capitulation to the alt-right in the last instance. On the one hand the Mayor attacked our rally: he heavily communicated to everyone in the city telling people to “stay home” and not come to our counter-mobilization, he sent police to harass us in the morning and attempted to forbid our demonstration in the street, his police intervened in our march to arrest two of our security team organizers who were in a human chain separating two fascists provocateurs from the crowd (ie. enforcing our piece, one of them is our comrade) and left the fascist go free and smiling. The Mayor and the police too restricted our free speech. On the other hand, the Mayor who opportunistically changed his position on Tuesday and gave to our rally a mild support when pressured by the unions had the nerve to come escorted by police to our truck to demand to speak at our rally!!! He wanted to get on the same truck his own police officers threatened to remove by force from the streets hours before! Of course we the socialists, said “hell no!”, and despite his disbelief, he had to turn around and leave.
Today several thousands showed in Berkeley that we are not afraid of the “alt-right”, that Marxist have strong history and determination in anti-fascist organizing, and that we are ready for the next provocations to come. We hope that next time our socialist ranks will be even stronger!