The Metro Detroit Political Action Network had its inception after the inauguration of Donald Trump. Early on, we organized and rallied for compassion in our immigration policies, in response to the first racist travel ban. Since then, more and more people have joined our organization, and we have consistently mobilized within and with the political community to fight the injustices we see tearing apart our country, socially, racially, environmentally, and economically.
We have evolved into an organization comprised of people of various backgrounds and ideologies with great commonalities. The execution of our direct action is not a static process, but dynamic and reactive to the circumstances that we face. We aim to continue to organize to obliterate hate, oppression, and injustice in all its forms, as well as the legislators who promulgate these disgraceful ideas.
We have been involved in some of the most prominent direct actions in Detroit and abroad over the past several years. In 2018, we helped stop several deportations by blockading the ICE admin building as a part of the Occupy ICE Movement, then reinforced DC Black Lives Matter in opposing Unite the Right 2, helped Cleveland Black Lives Matter stop Kaitlin Bennett’s open carry march in its tracks and assisted the American Indian Movement in chasing the Ku Klux Klan out of Madison, IN. In 2019 we defended Drag Queen Story Hour in Huntington Woods from Evangelical bigots, helped defend Motor City Pride from the National Socialist Movement and assisted Cosecha with their blockade of the Windsor tunnel...and harassment from Kaitlin Bennett, oddly enough.
We’re also no stranger to helping the community through mutual aid, and have partnered with Resurrection City, Food Not Class, Frontline Detroit and the Michigan Mutual Aid Coalition to safeguard Metro-Detroit from hunger and thirst. In 2020, it’s all about Black Lives Matter, we’ve started off with the 5/29 March Against Police Brutality which drew over 1500 to DPD HQ, raised money for LGBTQIA youth and supported black women defending their communities from predators. Stay tuned for our upcoming events to help the people of Metro-Detroit rise up and defeat white supremacy, misogyny and capitalism!
Meet Our Team!
Co-Founder: Ahmed Ghanim
Water Rights Chair: Meeko A. Williams
Detroit Slutwalk Chair: Chantel E. Watkins
March for Black Women Chair: Jazmine Middlebrooks
Electoral Chair: Bridget Huff
Social Media Director: Robert Jay
Logistics Coordinator: Heidi West
Mutual Aid Coordinator: Siren Fonzarelli
Hospitality Coordinator: Riley Ann Vermilya
Videographer: Stephen Boyle
IT/Editing: Kevin Perez
Header: Secret Service agents deployed for a Trump rally in a pole barn off MI-53 in Washington Twp. on April 28th, 2018.
While the kidnapping by Federal agents at 7 mile and Greenfield today was the work of ATF agents, the disturbing part of the NDAA is that these agents can just as easily switch their patches to be deployed under Trump's orders, just like in Portland. Since the US has gone Full Gestapo, we'd like to share these tips for organizers and protesters alike to limit their opportunities to black bag us.
1. End the march where it starts, disperse all at once so they can't pick people off walking back from a second location.
2. Make sure someone who knows your legal name and DOB is aware of where you're protesting, when you should be back, and who is organizing. Organizers, we need to make post-action inboxes a top priority to monitor.
3. National Lawyers Guild Detroit & Michigan Chapter is your friend, if you see someone taken, make sure to inform the brave folks in the lime hats, and if we're following #2, they'll be in a position to coordinate with protest organizers and emergency contacts.
4. This may be controversial, but we'd recommend pausing the intentional arrest strategy. We still expect arrests to happen with militant action, but submitting to cuffs in mass numbers now creates the terrifying question "where will they be sent"? NDAA is a vicious law.
5. If you volunteer for action roles such as crowd safety or medic, make sure you can stay at least an hour past the listed action end time to allow for large group escorts back to demonstrators cars.
6. Bring a change of clothes to every action, make sure you have different articles of clothing that can cover up the physical attributes listed on your driver's license (hair color, eye color, etc.) DPD's facial recog matches people to licenses, so the emphasis must be there.
7. Cover your tats, with tape if needed. One bold anti-fascist that painted "Fuck ICE" on their Detroit HQ was only identified because of a match on an uncovered tattoo.
8. Keep your cameras on the cops or featured speakers/chant leaders at a demonstration. Only film the general crowd from the back or in large, quick sweeps.
Journalists: you've seen how they do you, lets protect each other and follow this rule together.
9. Do not discuss violent and/or criminal activity on Facebook or other social media platforms. This was true before the official landing of the Gestapo but its doubly important now.
10. When possible, use encrypted communication apps like Signal or WhatsApp. Telegram is fairly solid, too.
Burn action chats when they're over, set disappearing message timers, and burn chats immediately if someone in them was kidnapped.
A Wall of Moms cowed these jackbooted menaces in Portland. With numbers, disciplined and solidarity, we can defeat this menace.
CW: Literal Nazis and what comes with it.
Originally Posted on June 10, 2019
Update 6/12/19: Features account and video footage of an NSM member assaulting a woman in front of multiple DPD officers.
An oral history of Antifascist action in Detroit, collected and synthesized from accounts with on-site participants.
Preparations, Confrontations, and Mutual Aid
On April 16th Burt Colucci, alleged "Commander" of the National Socialist Movement [NSM], levied a threat against Motor City Pride, stating they would be holding an armed demonstration to intimidate and harm Detroit’s LGBTQIA community. Word of the threat spread among leftist circles, and LGBTQIA rights organizers were rapidly alerted. When Motor City Pride was informed, they asked concerned residents to leave it to the Detroit Police Department.
Food Not Class (FNC), which routinely serves a free buffet and clothing/toiletries share for vulnerable community members twice a week, called in as many volunteers as they could for a special serving on the first day of Motor City Pride. They set up along an apropos wall of stone on Jefferson and Bates, having just produced a “History of Pride” zine, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. Their spread was complete with 11 cases of bottled water, lasagna, vegan chili, stuffed peppers, pizza and a veritable mountain of cornbread, delighting the houseless community and passersby alike, wetting whistles and sating appetites. Mitten Medics were on hand to make sure anyone who got hurt could get patched up, and keep folks hydrated on an 80 degree day.
Red Orchestra (RO) and the Communist Workers League (CWL) of Detroit provided the direct action and community defense portions of the proceedings, with Antifascists garbed in tie-dye and rainbow bandanas, alternately dubbed the “Rainbow Warriors” or “Rainbow Bloc” by onlookers and social media accounts.
While Burt Colucci’s threat was copied onto Stormfront and NSM’s homepage, they were no-shows for the proposed 1 PM start time for their acts of hatred, effectively removing the most common defense of fascism: getting the trains to run on time.
Instead of the literal Nazis, 1 PM’s entertainment came in the form of a Christian bigot trundling down Jefferson, condemning LGBTQIA individuals to hell through his microphone at each step. Once he arrived within earshot of the FNC table, Antifascists sprang into action, forcing him away from MC Pride with an ersatz blockade on the sidewalk, while others harangued him through megaphones along the stone wall. His cries of homosexuality being a mortal sin were drowned out by commands to take his bigotry elsewhere, and multiple suggestions for therapy interspersed with everyone's favorite expletives.
Finding himself in front of the Renaissance Center, the hateful zealot attempted to give antifascists the slip, heading back down the sidewalk and got as far as the parking garage elevator before running into another ersatz blockade. This time, his choices were a packed sidewalk and the oncoming traffic of Jefferson, he chose the latter and rabbited to the median where Woodward and Jefferson intersect. From there, his declaration that transgender people were a crime against god was met with protesters blasting Pride anthems, such as "Born this Way" by Lady Gaga and "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross, through a portable speaker. He found himself at a loss for words as the protesters started grinding and twerking in front of him. Emboldened future MC Pride attendees took care of the rest, verbally dissolving his life's philosophy on their way to the entrance line, and he sheepishly skittered away.
Meanwhile, Food Not Class' serving was going so well, they were in danger of running out of everything but cornbread by 3 PM. Two houseless folks who enjoyed the spread elected to stick around and serenade foot traffic with punk rock and classic pop standards on their ukelele, while hanging out with FNC volunteers. Thanks to the generosity of those who enjoyed the serving earlier, they had enough for seven large pizzas and six cases of water.
Not ten minutes after the pizza order was placed, a Swastika flag was spotted in front of Cobo Hall, headed directly for Hart Plaza.
The Smallest Blitzkrieg
Walking on the North side of Jefferson, in front of the Scientology building, a lone antifascist tried to halt their march. She was shoved down by an NSM shield in full view of DPD, who neither arrested, nor charged the Nazi with assault. (video)
A second antifascist later bolted to the scene once they crossed the street, heading towards the end of the Pride entry line. They ran into a wall of no less than thirty DPD officers, some in riot gear, acting as a phalanx for ten members of NSM. The Nazis were sporting the clearance aisle of their local Army-Navy surplus, only one had a replica SS uniform. Amid the black tacticool, one woman with a Macklemore haircut stuck out in a Mormonesque khakis and white polo ensemble. The antifascist attempted to darted around and tail the group before it could reach the entry line. DPD made grabs for the protester, amid the Nazis shouting "White Power" and "Fuck You F******" to the Metro-Detroit LGBTQIA community. The police were unsuccessful, as the first Rainbow Warrior darted across the street, flipping the guardians of National Socialism the bird.
Reinforcements arrived as the Rainbow Warriors confronted the NSM and DPD head-on (video). They rallied some of the entry line of Motor City Pride in a chant of "Nazis Fuck Off" to counter the hate speech, and were aided by three members of the houseless community, who joined the front line in trying to stop the march. It was to no avail, shoved aside by DPD riot shields, the bloc took to tailing the demonstration and were joined by a furious crowd confronting a symbol of their genocide.
A crowd growing behind them, the Nazis quickened their pace as they crossed in front of Hart Plaza, a raucous uproar of "No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA" behind them, and Pride attendees banging on the fences. Near the MC Pride Bicycle Valet, an Arab Rainbow Warrior was called "Sand N*****" and told "go back to your country" by a white officer. A couple brave and agile antifascists were able to briefly slip by the police bubble to get clear photos. NSM was losing ground on the Jefferson sidewalk as it crossed Bates.
DPD elected to close down Eastbound Jefferson and escort Nazis to the median and up Randolph St. The sidewalk was taken up by a fuming unified bloc of Antifascists and Pride goers shouting "Class traitor!" and a thunderous chorus of "Who do you serve, who do you protect?"
The antifascist who was assaulted at the beginning of the march was accosted by DPD. The officer grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises, and attempted to detain her because she was carrying two water bottles. The officer was quickly surrounded by protesters and let her go.
The Rainbow Bloc grew in number and overwhelmed the Southeast corner of Jefferson and Randolph and began shouting "Queer Power!" in response to NSM taunting with "White Power!" while scurrying away under heavy police guard. Then "Trans Power!" was added, later "Black Power!" and "People Power!" echoed off the walls of the Millinder Center as the Nazis retreated to Larned and Randolph.
There they lingered as the chants died. A small detachment of the bloc circled around to Woodward and Larned, rallying Pride goers at street crossings along the way to confront them from the West. Marching in, the bloc used a megaphone to undress the NSM from their odious viewpoints, to the likely origins of their lack of self-esteem. DPD reinforced the Nazis by pushing the Antifascists back and drawing a crowd of onlookers from a nearby parking garage.
At one point, possibly Bert Colucci, it was difficult to tell the men apart with twelve inches of hair between them, tore up and peed on an Israeli flag. Perhaps he was mock peeing, but no arrest attempt was made. The bloc laughed, responding "We're leftists, we don't like Israel 'cause they act like you!"
Each attempt for the National Socialist Mormon to speak through her megaphone was shouted down, sometimes with clever jabs, a Queer Power reprisal or simply "Shut up, just shut the fuck up". Eventually, this drew more attention from Pride goers and Detroit visitors alike, and the "Nazis Are Scared" chant caught on. Curiously, they stopped attempting to spew hate at Randolph and Larned, and walked West. Masked members of the bloc eschewed them out with a spirited but off key "Na Na Hey Hey" by Steam and Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack". Sadly, a voluminous DPD presence allowed "White Power" to echo through the Millinder Center tunnel as they skulked away.
The Rainbow Warriors regrouped and cut around to Larned and Beaubien via Jefferson, and were greeted with cheers from early bar goers, chasing the NSM into a parking lot on Larned and St. Antoine. Another section of the bloc marched up to the other entrance of the parking lot and was halted by a suffocating array of DPD officers and cruisers. The Warriors remained undaunted, bringing a reprise of "Nazis Are Scared" as the police escorted the National Socialist Movement away in a rented catering van.
From the start of the MC Pride line to the parking lot retreat, the National Socialist Movement only managed to disrupt Pride proper for 10 minutes and Detroit proper for 20, 5 spent cowering in a van.
Meanwhile, the Mitten Medics held it down at the Food Not Class table, but their consumable supplies dwindled to cornbread and coffee. Fortunately, they had plenty of literature from FNC and Communist Workers League, plus radical stickers.
Post-Action Mutual Aid
After taking a half hour to regroup, FNC realized they completely forgot about the pizza. The resupply run lasted 45 minutes and everyone had to make due apologizing for only having coffee, clothes, cornbread and literature. Once the 8 large pizzas arrived, it was passed out to hungry Pride attendees in roughly 5 minutes. Many people lingered, dancing to 105.9 on the portable speaker, and/or talking radical theory.
The Mitten Medics patched up a young Pride-goer who suffered a leg injury, keeping her comfortable and well hydrated with bandage wraps and assistance on an impromptu medical evacuation. Red Orchestra and Communist Workers League squads walked the streets around Pride, checking to ensure no white supremacists lingered. Along the way, they encountered a man catcalling women waiting in line from his car. Blocking his view, he stopped yelling and got out of his car, frustrated. Unpleasant words were exchanged at low volume, but it was made clear his behavior was out of line and it was also the least logical place to try anyway. He stormed off, but bothered Pride no further.
FNC was confronted by an undercover officer, upset about the organization's rule of refusing service to law enforcement and fascists. He took a piece of anti-police literature and interrogated the organization over its permit status for the stone wall on Jefferson and Bates. Eventually, he left, thoroughly unsatisfied with his lack of service.
The sun went down, and Pride came to a close Nazi-free. All in a day's work for Antifa.
Disclaimer: While MDPAN is an ardent supporter of Antifa, it is not an Anti-fascist or Anti-racist collective, please refer all inquiries on white supremacist activity to Red Orchestra, interest in mutual aid to Food Not Class and information on medical training to Mitten Medics. Communist Workers League is a great source for general community organizing.
#LGBTQIAIssues #motorcitypride #communistworkersleague #foodnotclass #mittenmedics #Detroit #nazi #antifa #mutualaid #communitydefense #directaction
Originally Posted on January 30, 2019. All photographs provided by: The Larson Lens, LLC
For much of December and January, Huntington Woods Library's "Drag Queen Storytime" was under attack by forces of bigotry within, and without, the local community. It began with City Commissioner Allison Iversen, whose emails about the event included the following "I have been trying to get this stopped since it started. Please do get more people involved. I am one voice and we need many people to call this out for what it is." That leak prompted a City Commission meeting where residents of Huntington Woods showed overwhelming support for the program.
"The results that have been achieved by Drag QUEEN Storytime is statistical truth to the desire of Huntington Woods and surrounding cities, which was echoed by community member after community member, at last month's City Commission meeting. There is a waiting list for the event, and ONE letter of opposition that was the only letter sent to the Mayor's office. The community has spoken, HATE chooses NOT to hear them,” stated Jey'nce Poindexter, Founder of Trans Sistas of Color Project - Detroit and Board Member of Women's March, MI, who was in attendance at the meeting. Allison Iversen would resign early on December 18th, with her bid to end Storytime failing.
The results have been readily apparent. Joyce Krom, the librarian organizing Storytime, has been assembling wildly successful events, with 100 attendees at her first event and a perpetual waiting list since. "We strive to support all children in our community, one of our top priorities is to be welcoming and inclusive, and always work toward creating a more equitable society," Krom told MDPAN, when describing the purpose behind Drag Queen Storytime. Miss Raven Divine Cassadine, a regular host of Storytime, was leading the reading on January 26th. "I think that it’s very important that we teach the importance of reading to the children and acceptance for everyone regardless of race, sex or gender," expounded Miss Raven, on why she stays involved.
Despite all these triumphs, Poindexter was astute to point out that hate wasn't listening. In her emails, Iversen put out a call for greater involvement in shutting down the event. Tennessee-based hate group Warriors for Christ answered that call. Their founder, Rich Penkoski, placed his ignorance on public display when describing his reasons for protesting the event "Parents that bring their kids to this, you can say what you want, but a transgender 4-year-old is like a vegan cat. We know who's making the lifestyle choices for that cat and that child. Children should be left alone." This group has attempted frivolous lawsuits in Louisiana, where they booked space in the library, then proceeded to intimidate participants (some as young as 3) and filmed the Story Hour without permission. Upon encountering consequences for this behavior, they filed suit claiming their First Amendment rights were infringed upon.
MDPAN was one of the organizations asked to come out and support the event, and proceeded to call the banners of the Motor City Sisters, GNA, TSOCP, TGDetroit, Planned Parenthood, Refuse Fascism, American Atheists, and Ferndale Pride. With local organizing provided by Sara Smith, the inaugural Queensguard was formed. It's mission: protect children, their families and the Queens from hate speech and other attacks, allowing Drag Queen Storytime to continue unhindered.
January 26th, 1:30 PM, pre-event defense.
The forces of hate had an early start to the day. A group of 8 well-dressed bourgeoisie formed the "Michigan Mass Resistance", an anti-LGBTQIA group who also threatened to protest the event. They stood near the entrance, inviting passersby to pray the rosary for an imagined corruption of children. They were being interviewed by the Church Militant, a Ferndale-based group that abandoned all the class consciousness of the Game of Thrones group they copied, but kept the bigotry. South of them, along the sidewalk, were a pack of six men in hoodies, several of which read "Proud Boys" along the chest, and another in a red "Make America Great Again" sweatshirt. Warriors for Christ, numbering 6, were the last to arrive, but were very proud of their custom jumpsuits.
On the other side of the wall, Queensguard had amassed over 100 supporters with almost an hour left until the 3 PM event start time. An experienced and capable bunch, they immediately took the front line, bedecked and bedazzled in rainbows, facepaint, and a gigantic array of custom signs, plus a bunch more donated by Planned Parenthood and American Atheists. The lime-capped bigot opened proceedings declaring shame and eternal hellfire on the supporters for helping corrupt the minds of children. Queensguard responded to that verbal assault with a thundering chorus of "Love Not Hate" and "Hate Go Home".
As more supporters rolled in between 2 and 3 PM, eventually exceeding 200, Warriors for Christ decided to target specific marginalized groups during their raving. "Everyone wants to be gay, but nobody wants the AIDs," was one such example, noted by a local member of the gay community. Others reported Islamaphobic comments, and a bizarre obsession with adult diapers. As volunteers with ample cellphone batteries teamed with supporters carrying a portable speaker, the screech of bigotry was deadened by the speaker and the crowd erupting into Barney's "I Love You".
2:45 PM - Showtime
Parents and their kids arrived for Storytime. One participant in the Queensguard had a basket full of flowers with ribbon and a positive, affirming message attached for each child attending. MDPAN's Lead Marshall, wearing a rainbow cape, topped with a pink wig, brought popular children's books to pass out to each young person who could make it for Storytime. When it came time to enter the library, all 200+ of the Queensguard did their best Red Sea impression, parting to provide safe passage and booming cheers for standing up to hate.
One parent would later remark "Uh oh, I hope my kid's not expecting a present and cheering every time we go to one of these."
The Proud Boys made a considerable effort to distance themselves from Warriors for Christ, milling around on the sidewalk South of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the majority of the parents were entering from that direction. Red Orchestra (RO) provided volunteers for the demonstration to ward off attacks, verbal or otherwise, from the hate groups present. It should be noted the Proud Boys were briefly added to the FBI's terror watchlist, and have strong ties to the recently arrested Roger Stone. RO took the point on the South end of the parking lot to ensure no parents would be accosted, with significant success.
Meanwhile, at the wall, the Southernmost member of the Queensguard embarked on a special mission. Matthew Kinne is an attorney that's traveled nationwide trying to stop WfC's campaign of hate against any number of genders greater than two. He brought a large thermos full of hot water, and an entire case of hot chocolate powder with balloons tied to it. Kinne attempted to have a frank, calm dialogue and perhaps a declaration of piece. Instead, the Warriors for Christ speaker rejected the gift, and proceeded to point at trans members of Queensguard and deliberately misgender them, including comments like "God will make a man out of you!" (EDIT: 2/21/19) Kinne's mission was successful, with the Southern Poverty Law Center granting the "anti-LGBT hate group" designation to Warriors for Christ. Following the news, WfC Patriarch Rich Penkoski posted a video saltier than Lot's wife on their decision to abandon their base in West Virginia.
While everyone was dressed in their Pride parade best, it was the Motor City Sisters taking everyone's breath away. With Warriors for Christ targeting individuals among the Queensguard with hate speech, Sister Misty Meanor sprung into action. Clothed as the Virgin Mary, or at least the second part, she bravely strode to the front of the line, directly in front of the bigots. From there, she turned her back to hate and let her habit fly, supported by a pair of nearby Queensguard. Golden and blue light from the fabric completely covered the megaphone operator in Warriors for Christ from view, muffling his speech in the process.
Despite WfC's leader, Rich Penkoski, saying children should be left alone in his attacks on Drag Queen Storytime, the families participating were the next major targets of the group. A barrage of vitriol eschewed from their megaphone, attempting to tell children as young as 3 that their parents were going to make them go to hell.
Fortunately, the Queensguard was more than prepared to counter. A few clicks and swipes on a cell phone had "Baby Shark" blaring through a portable speaker, with other activists holding the mic from their megaphones up to the speaker, creating a surround sound effect focused directly on the religious zealot screaming at 4-year-olds. Swaying like the waves of the ocean, all 200+ of the Queensguard lifted their voices to the heavens, belting out every "doo doo dodo do do" along the way. Paralyzed with involuntary laughter, WfC's mouthpiece did the one thing no one expected: he stopped talking.
At this time, the Proud Boys skulked off, and members of RO took point at the neighborhood intersections to ensure their preferred tactic of jumping lone activists post-event would fail.
3:30 PM - Exit, stage left.
RO provided escort detail for families or members of Queensguard walking to their cars alone or in a small group. Thanks to the (baby) shark attack, the primary threat of WfC was effectively diminished. All families were able to return to their cars safely.
It was at this point it became apparent how overwhelming the support for Drag Queen Storytime was in the Huntington Woods community. Mayor Paul stood in the supporters camp, joined by recently elected City Commissioner Michelle Elder, who replaced Allison Iversen. The literature didn't stop with just the kids, either, as many of the organizations present educational pamphlets to distribute. Joyce Krom joined the exit procession for a bit, making sure to meet one of the illustrious Motor City Sisters:
After an impromptu dance party to finish the successful defense, the principal organizers started returning to their vehicles. However, there was a bit of a standoff as everyone departed. "We stayed with the last protester on site because they were parked in front of the WfC people and didn't want to be seen getting in their car by them," reports Gloom, a member of RO and JBGC. Both sides stared each other down for a few minutes, then back-up arrived from other organizers who just finished packing up. The WfC pick-up sped off at the sight of greater numbers and all returned safely.
MDPAN is please to report zero arrest and zero instances of violence, and would like to thank Red Orchestra, JBGC and all experienced protesters who helped keep it that way.
More information about the Proud Boys can be found here.
Disclaimer: While MDPAN wholeheartedly believes in the mission of antifascism, and is happy to work with groups under that banner, it is not itself an Antifa collective. All information was gathered and compiled by Red Orchestra. Please direct any questions, or supplementary information, to those sources.
#LGBTQIAIssues #queensguard #MDPAN #motorcitysister #LGBTQIA #dragqueen #literacy #library #ferndale #pride #PlannedParenthood #proudboys #warriorsforchrist