RefuseFascism

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5 Sep 2020
525 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Originally Posted on August 6, 2018

As the street sweepers cleared and the sun peaked out from the horizon line the morning of July 27, an intrepid crew of Occupants, numbering 15, rose from their tents and went to work shutting down the Detroit ICE Field office. Eschewing most physical barricades that enveloped the gates in June, this team did most of the work with just their bodies.

Prior to the blockade, two groups of two Occupants each faced a frightening encounter. At 1:30 AM, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty pickup barreled through the Larned/Mt. Elliott intersection on a bee-line for protesters biking away. It swerved at the last moment, snaked up Mt. Elliott to restablize, then ran a red light on a right turn from the middle lane on Lafayette. This exact pattern was later repeated at 3:30 AM towards two protesters on foot.

A little after 5 AM, several vehicles tried to enter the facility through the Jefferson gate. A line of people formed in front, shouts of "Shame!" drowning out their cries of frustration, already muted by their car windows. The cars were turned away, but pulled into an adjacent parking lot to stew over a thwarted attempt to continue the work of genocide. Two of the cars bounced between the Jefferson and Mt. Elliott gates, probing for an opening. They found none.

Portion of the Deadline Day encampment, 7/26. 

Not long after 7 AM, a DHS agent arrived in response to employee calls about not being able to come to work. Occupy ICE Detroit began picketing in front of the gates in a roving circle formation. The DHS Agent, who shall henceforth be referred to as Agent (Donald) Glover, began repeatedly shouting "This is America!" in response to the protest, and later "you got me trippin' on some bike locks at 7 in the morning" in reference to the reason why none of the gates could open. The authorities' plea to not block vehicles from entering the facility was summarily ignored. After a half hour of huffing and puffing with channel locks and sledgehammer, the bike lock was removed from Mt. Elliott gate, but the blockade remain intact. Meanwhile, disgruntled ICE employees looked on from their perch in the Walgreen's parking lot, kitty-corner to the facility. 

Agent Glover pulled around to go to work on the Jefferson gate bike lock. A chorus of "Shame" erupted as he emerged, but he clapped back with "Shame don't work no more". 

To prove his point, a woman unaffiliated with Occupy ICE pulled into the parking lot adjacent Jefferson gate. She opened the door to her car, clearly distraught, with tears streaming down her face. "I just spent 20 minutes looking for a police officer, please help me, someone broke into my house!" she pleaded, but her bid for assistance was ignored by Agent Glover. Several Occupants went over to console her and direct her to an entity that actually helps people.

After the bike lock was removed, DHS was largely uninterested in testing Jefferson gate, instead focusing their efforts on bullying those blockading Mt. Elliott's. In this video you can see threats and intimidation from DHS, who now have five SUVs on the scene, such as the psychological warfare tactics of flashing emergency lights and sirens to disorient the protesters. This tactic is also not allowed in numerous law enforcement agencies, since its using emergency equipment for non-emergency reasons. Repeated threats of arrest were issued, as the morning crept on through 9 AM. One DHS agent took to the time to lay flex cuff zipties one by one on the pavement for each protester. 

People who should be chained, according to DHS. From the 7/26 Deadline Day Rally. 

An ICE employee tried to enter the facility, despite most of their coworkers skulking at Walgreens. A DHS agent told them "you were told not to come in, please go home and wait for a call." So Occupy ICE Detroit officially canceled the early bird shift. Later, a Fedex employee arrived on scene, stated "Trying to deliver a package, but ain't no one in there! Oops, not supposed to say that," and promptly left.

However, the most damning incident occurred at the hands of a Centerra security employee, hired by DHS. This video shows the driver backing up a foot from where the protester is standing, then stepping on the gas to hit her. Fortunately, no severe injuries were sustained in the vehicular assault. 

While the blockade stretched into the 10 AM hour, and ICE's vultures dispersed from the Walgreens, important work was carried out by the Outreach team, as a crowd of ten+ families waited outside for an ICE check-in to see whether they would be deported. Occupants walked through the involuntary gathering, offering water, snacks, and chalk for the kids, while asking how they felt about the protests and whether it helped. Almost universally there was appreciation, with one exception. One man needed to drive from Grand Rapids for his check-in, an expensive journey, and didn't want to have to repeat it due to a shutdown. ICE is forcing people to drive across the entire state of Michigan just for the privilege of finding out whether or not they would be exiled. Occupy ICE Detroit will be launching an additional fundraiser to provide relief for immigrant communities directly in the near future, especially as it relates to the deportation process.

By 11 AM, the Mt. Elliott blockade was completely surrounded, with DHS agents outnumbering protesters. A final warning was issued and the blockade ended, but not before canceling the entire first shift and observing a deportation free day while protesters were on site. Occupants were given only a half hour to strike camp or face arrest/personal property destruction.

No arrests were made, and Occupy ICE Detroit stayed out front for the remainder of the day, to much jubilation from onlookers driving by on Jefferson.

Several days later, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty was seen exiting the ICE facility.

  #abolishice 

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Originally Posted on July 24, 2017

On July 24th, the Michigan Trump Republicans held a rally at Duggan’s pub in Royal Oak, MI. Metro-Detroit Political Action Network (MDPAN), Refuse Fascismand members of Solidarity and Defense staged a protest to reject the fascist ideology espoused by the President’s base. While the aim was for a peaceful demonstration, the Michigan contingent of Bikers for Trump violently escalated the situation, assaulting two members of MDPAN.  

Joseph Fournier, a leader with MDPAN, made note that “known members of Michigan Militia and Bikers Against Radical Islam, who just love going into communities and tormenting families here,” were in attendance. The latter group recently attempted to drive through Dearborn terrorizing the majority Muslim populace, while thumbing their nose at Islamic traditions by hosting a pig roast, before being shut down by local Elk clubs. “Duggan’s is clearly endorsing them, despite what their official statement may say.” Fournier continued, alluding to a statement that this pro-Trump rally was simply the matter of fulfilling a reservation.

The first hour and a half of the protest was mild, peppered by the occasional jeers and Trump supporters wandering into the resistance area to profess the alleged evils of globalism, Black Lives Matter, and immigration. Encounters were tense, but ultimately not harmful.

That changed after 7 PM, when both sides clustered on opposite ends of the egress in Duggan’s parking lot. Shouts of “Lock Him Up” and “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” clashing with “We’re Stronger Together With Trump” and the revving of stationary motorcycles.

While the Bikers for Trump camp were safe crossing into resistance territory, two women from the activist camp were not so fortunate. Witnesses at the scene state that a woman walked across the egress, then had her sign grabbed at, and later her person, repeatedly shoved by a female member of Bikers for Trump in bizarre posture, reminiscent of a soccer player trying to get physical while avoiding a red card. Within seconds, she was shoved by a second Trump supporter and struck back in self-defense. Several other activists rushed to her aid.

One protester was then grabbed by multiple Bikers for Trump members and had her megaphone stolen amidst the chaos. At this point, the Royal Oak Police intervened, separating the clashing groups. The first assault victim made multiple attempts to state the crimes committed against her, but was simply told by an officer on the scene to “go back to the sidewalk” and file a report. Minutes later, she was placed under arrest for assault.

Another protester made multiple appeals for the return of her megaphone, which was eventually recovered by Royal Oak PD, stating that they found it on the ground and saw no evidence of wrongdoing. Video evidence proves otherwise. No further arrests were made.

After being separated, there were no further instances of violence at the event, though several homophobic comments were lobbed at Fournier by the Trump supporters as they departed. Despite a perverse obsession with the American flag, one member of Bikers for Trump displayed where his true loyalty lay:


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Originally Posted on November 10, 2017

Macomb County GOP Chair Cathy Kirk decided to book Steve Bannon as the keynote speaker for a Republican "Unity Dinner" at the Warren Andiamo, and Metro Detroit refused to take that endorsement of white supremacy lying down. MDPAN teamed with the Detroit and Ohio branches of Refuse Fascism along with Stop Trump Ann Arbor to protest this attempt to normalize Bannon's hateful views and policies, such as the Muslim travel bans, mass deportation of Latin and Arabic/Chaldean residents and attempted ban of Transgender troops.

As the sun set on the border of Warren and Sterling Heights, MI, 120 protesters gathered to denounce the wellspring of hate epitomized by the banquet. In addition to the organizing groups, members from the North Macomb, North Oakland and Troy Democratic Clubs added to the resistance, as well as a contingent from the far left, represented by Solidarity & Defense. IONA and Emgage, two Islamic organizations, also helped bolster the protest in advance of their post-event conference. The fully intersectional alliance also featured a tuba player and a banana:

The demonstration was in full swing by 5 PM, with chants of "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" and "Danger, danger, there's a fascist in the white house" echoing across 14 Mile Rd. during rush hour traffic. Traffic was further complicated by a heavy police presence, with Warren PD blocking off the median and sections of the Andiamo parking lot, along with mounted police from Oakland and Macomb County across the street. 

While Warren PD kept the pro- and anti-fascist camps separated on opposite sides of the restaurant, a white supremacist podcast team skulked into the protest zone posing as a media outlet. They made clear their intent to antagonize by espousing the values of Bannon's attempted pogrom against Arab and Latin Americans and discrimination of homosexuals. After numerous attempts to provoke violence, they were surrounded by the resistance with a deafening chorus of "Nazis Go Home!" and steered towards the edge of the camp. With assistance from the Warren PD, the agitators were non-violently dispatched from the scene.

As stars twinkled in the night sky, the protest gained more momentum. Banquet attendees were forced to shuttle to the Andiamo lot due to the demonstration, and were greeted with a cacophony of disgust. Chants of "Nazis Go Home!" and "No Hate in Our State" rained down on the trickle of patrons scurrying to the venue. Bannon himself was reported to have slunk in and out of the back entrance.

The demonstration also gave time for speakers, with William Antoun of IONA calling out specific elected and appointed local officials attending the dinner. In addition to Cathy Kirk, he also put Gus Ghanam (Warren Sanitation Dept. Superintendent) and Cecil St. Pierre (Warren City Council President) on blast for their xenophobic and anti-Islamic stances. St. Pierre was also recently involved in a scandal where he hijacked estates of the recently deceased for profit. Beyond local officials, numerous state level politicians (and hopefuls), threw their hat in the ring for white supremacy. The Detroit News reported governor candidates Bill Schuette (current Attorney General) and Patrick Colbeck, plus US Senate candidates John James and Bob Young Jr were present in support. Warren Weekly stated US Representative Paul Mitchell and Shelby Township Clerk (and Secretary of State hopeful) Stanley Grot were also in attendance. 

Outside, Solidarity & Defense brought their A game in the entertainment department. With a large speaker embedded in a backpack, they blasted YG & Nipsey Hussle's "FDT", an anti-Trump anthem. One representative also spoke of the importance in standing in solidarity with the workers of Andiamo. After Bannon was announced as a speaker, it was met with overwhelming resistance from the staff, with many refusing to work it and encouraging others to do the same, bravely refusing to play party to Bannon's hateful politics, even at the cost of personal income.

Those divisive politics were confirmed by the meager eight individuals who counter protested on the opposite side of the restaurant. James Beary, a resident of Grosse Ile, was interviewed by Warren Weekly and marched with Nazis in Charlottesville, proudly branding himself a European White Nationalist. Unemployed property tax dodger Rob Cortis also brought his metallic abomination, the Trump Unity Bridge to the event, ironically blasting Sly and the Family Stone while emphatically supporting a culture of police brutality that disproportionately targets black people.

The Warren Police Dept. conducted itself professionally, and expended considerable resources to ensure the safety of the protesters, including barricades and swift removal of the aforementioned white supremacist agitators. Reports from demonstrators about County officers were less than stellar, including honking for the Trump Bridge from a police cruiser, and intimidating resistance members walking to their cars by slowly trailing them on the sidewalk with another cruiser or briefly surrounding them. 

While the message of rich, white, male, Christian supremacy may have united the GOP members lapping up Bannon's hateful rhetoric, the protest against them was even more galvanizing for the left. Establishment Democrats stood shoulder to shoulder with Socialists. Christians, Jewish people and Muslims chanted together. Black, brown and white people denounced this millennium's Nazi resurgence. The America that this resistance is creating is one that welcomes people of all races, genders, sexualities, religions and will not tolerate racist misogynists that align themselves with scum like Bannon.

&GenderEquality #whitesupremacy #islamaphobia #transphobia #LGBTQIAequality #workers #solidarity 

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Originally Post on July 8, 2017

In the wake of Donald Trump's assumption of power as President of the United States, a national resistance group formed on December 19th, 2016. It began with a Facebook livestream from the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City. Reaching over 200,000 viewers the emergency conference featured speakers such as Jeremy Scahill, founding editor of The Intercept, Fran Luck, radio host for the multicultural feminist program Joy of Liberation, and hip-hop artist Immortal Technique. They called out the fascist character of the Trump/Pence regime and, through their website, have organized demonstrations across the country to thwart its machinations.  

They've disrupted the Sessions confirmation hearing with shouts of "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!", held demonstrations in honor of Holocaust Rememberance Day (drawing parallels with the ICE deportations) and hosting Teach-Ins in April on the warning signs of a government devolving into fascism. The group is present at every major protest, and are easily identified by their "NO!" sign, emblazoned with the core message:

 

On July 15th, Refuse Fascism will mobilize nationally in a march to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, with Detroit's event taking place at the Fist of Joe Louis at 1 PM. 

Vicki Edwards is one of the leaders for the Detroit chapter, a stalwart presence at every MDPAN event. When handed the megaphone, she appears to grow ten feet taller and deliver Refuse Fascism's refrain with a booming alto, and lo, the Earth doth shake. She was involved in the Occupy movement in 2011, and her experience there helped form the mission she carries out today. "It's not one thing, it's everything!" She said of her reasons for resistance. "This current government is fascist. This isn't just a collection of horrible, cruel, and inhumane policies, it's a qualitative change in how society is governed. Group after group is demonized and attacked, xenophobic nationalism is whipped up, dissent is criminalized, and once power is consolidated, traditional democratic rights are eliminated."

Given the President's repeated attacks on the press, travel bans, Russia's voter database hacking, and the ICE's mass deportations, Vicki's case is practically made for her. While the Detroit wing of the organization often tables other group's events, such as Love is Love and the Impeachment March, they're taking the lead more often this summer.

 

The group joined several others to protest against ACT for America's (classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group) anti-Sharia Law rally in Lansing, MI. Thin lines of caution tape and minimal police presence separated the two groups. While ACT was significantly outnumbered, several of their members were dressed in full militia kit, bearing assault rifles. Their opposition came armed only with their signs and their voices, with a rallying cry of "No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here!"

The fight continues in full force this coming Saturday, and the group has been canvassing local events and businesses with fliers demanding the Trump/Pence regime must go. From the pamphlet: "July 15th must mark a leap to more sustained struggle, inspiring people to see the possibility of ousting this regime through unleashing the tremendous power of the people – aiming for the time when millions can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate – demanding, and not stopping, until the Trump/Pence regime is driven from power." 

Come to the Fist of Joe Louis at 1 PM and answer the call, in the name of not just America, but humanity itself. The rally will feature the following speakers:

Rachel Voltaire: MC for the event.
- Vicki Edwards: The very same from this article.
Stephen Boyle: Longtime Detroit activist and former Green Party candidate.
Fatima Salman: Education/Youth Chair for Michigan Muslim Community Council

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#votehacking #anti-Muslimbigotry

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Originally Posted on July 20, 2017

"There is nothing more American, than to stand for justice!" shouted Ahmed Ghanim, speaking to a crowd of one hundred surrounding the Fist of Joe Louis in downtown Detroit. At high noon, two days prior to the celebration of America's independence, protesters gathered to demand the impeachment and removal of the President. Metro-Detroit Political Action Network (MDPAN) hosted the Detroit event, which paired with a sister march in Ann Arbor and joined resistance in major cities around the nation. Their reasons for shaking off the yolk of tyranny were as varied as the signs they waved.

Treason was among the most popular reasons for demanding the President's removal, as links between Russia, Trump, and his staff have been unearthed at a rapid pace throughout Robert Mueller's federal investigation. This is following Trump's firing of the initial investigator, FBI Director James Comey, which only intesified suspicions for traitorous activity. One activist held a "Truth Over Tweets" sign, and Trump's activity on the social media platform could be grounds for removal in itself, given that he's used his account to intimidate potential witnesses, attack the free press and silence dissent from the citizenry. Others decried his assault on healthcare and pandering to white nationalism and misogyny. 

 

Braving the sweltering July heat, the resistance lined the street with their signs and received a flurry of supportive honks from traffic passing by. While the majority of the feedback was positive, the occasional drive-by Trump supporter would demand the attendees "get a job!", oblivious to the irony of that statement's usage on a holiday weekend.

Local media also came out in force for the event, with representatives from WXYZ 7, Fox 2 and WDIV Local 4 sending camera crews. Allie Gross of the Detroit Free Press was also on scene for more in-depth reporting, along with Steve Neavling of the Motor City Muckraker

At 12:45 PM, the rally began in earnest. Highlights included the aforementioned Ahmed Ghanim, delivering a sobering and incendiary tale of his tribulations living under an oppressive regime in Egypt and emigrating to this country. "America has given me what I haven't found in any other land. [It's] Given me the freedom, given me the right to talk, given me the right to vote and given me the right to protest." After a chorus of cheers, he continued. "The most dangerous thing is normalizing what's wrong, that's how we were raised under a dictatorship...What is the difference between a dictator from a third world country facing corruption charges, and Donald Trump? There is no difference!"

 

Abhay Sinh Rathwa provided musical interludes for the speakers, whose soulful baritone evoked classic protest songs "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution" by Tracy Chapman, "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cook and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind". The latter elicted a response from nature itself, as wind gusts erupted off the Detroit River, threatening to carry off Abhay's sheet music were it not for the MC holding it to the music stand.

Refuse Fascism sent a delegation to the march, with Vicki, leader of the Detroit chapter, providing a booming mantra that Trump and Pence must go for their repeated attacks on the marginalized in this country. The MC concluded the rally by reciting Bill Pullman's Independence Day speech, modified to reflect Trump's takeover versus an extraterrestrial invasion.

With that, the protesters took to the streets. Thanks to a gracious Detroit Police Department, they were able to march unimpededed up Woodward and through Campus Martius. A man wearing a plaster caricature head of Trump and MDPAN stalwarts holding a "Grab Him by the Treason" banner acted as the standard bearers. Passers-by and outdoor diners greeted the activists with cheers, and chants of "2-4-6-8 Time to do away with hate", "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" and "Liar Liar Pants on Fire, Donald Trump Must Retire" echoed sonorously off the steel and glass towers bordering the route. By 2 PM, the resistance returned to the Fist, pleasantly exhausted from exercising their civic duty to resist an illegitimate authority. 

 

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