The past few weeks have been truly inspiring, with powerful actions taking place across the country to shut down and drown out threats of white supremacist demonstrations. Following a torch-lit march evoking the imagery of the Ku Klux Klan and the tragic death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a racist in Charlottesville, communities everywhere united to mobilize against any and all planned fascist protests. From Boston, to Knoxville, to the Bay Area, the forces on the extreme right were resoundingly defeated, and the struggle continues.
The common threads binding together the shows of resistance are solidarity, community self-reliance, self-defense, and a diversity of tactics. In an interview discussing Charlottesville, Cornel West testifies that the police complicitly stood by and watched as faith-based demonstrators were physically threatened by racists; West goes on to acknowledge and praise anti-fascists who came to the religious leaders’ defense. Without them, the religious leaders could have met a violent and tragic fate. In Berkeley at a Rally Against Hate demonstration this past weekend, the police intervened in the confrontation, but on behalf of the minuscule number of racist demonstrators. The police attacks on the anti-fascist protesters who were there to defend the rally illustrate the systemic underpinnings of power: as a system built by white supremacy, policing will always side with racist forces and target communities challenging their power. Policing is not neutral, and we can never rely on it for community safety.

Criminalizing Resistance and Self-Defense
In the face of a people’s victory in kicking white supremacists out of the Bay Area, the allegedly progressive Mayor of Berkeley joined the chorus of mainstream and right-wing voices condemning the anti-fascist protesters, specifically categorizing “antifa” as a gang. This is nothing more than an attempt to criminalize people’s resistance and self-defense. From the rise of anti-gang policing targeting Black organizations bound up with the fall of the Black Panthers in Los Angeles and Chicago, to the attack against Pelican Bay prisoners in solitary confinement organizing historic hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, the categorization of people as gang members has long been used as a tool to criminalize and repress those engaged in resistance and networks of self-defense.

As part of our new video project Breaking Down the Prison Industrial Complex, former political prisoner, Freedom Archives founder, and CR Community Advisor Claude Marks breaks down the state’s method of labelling groups of people as gangs with the goal of crushing political dissent and “snuffing out human potential.”
Critical Resistance stands in firm opposition to anti-gang policing and gang classifications. We stand in defense of communities and groups who are standing up against the violence of white supremacy. We’ve put this into practice through our work against gang injunctions in Oakland, CA and against solitary confinement across CA prisons. If you want to learn more about what gang injunctions are and how they are enforced, visit Stop the Injunctions’ Resources on street policing and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s on gang classification inside prisons.

The fight to abolish white supremacy and the prison industrial complex must be creative and will take on many forms. We recognize that those in power will use any tool at their disposal to break the solidarity and unity our movements build. The threats against us are real: Trump’s lifting of restrictions on the transfer of military weapons to police, his pardoning of the virulently anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio, and his plan to roll back DACA for undocumented children are only the most recent examples. As the last few weeks have shown us, our best chance at winning comes through building a strong broad base and collectively fighting against attempts to divide and criminalize our resistance.

In Struggle,
Critical Resistance