August is shaping up to be a busy month in the United States, with a convergence of struggles against fascist organizing, the prison-industrial complex, and the violence of the border as exemplified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). With our comrades at Submedia and It’s Going Down, we’ve prepared a short video addressing the situation, followed by a brief analysis.
Shut Down Fascism
We’re seeing a new wave of activity from the fascist movement that was so soundly beaten in the streets a year ago. Early on the morning of July 28, the Nazis of Patriot Front attacked the camp set up by Occupy ICE in San Antonio. This August, the same fascist groups that terrorized and murdered people last year are preparing to rally around the US again—everywhere from Providence and Washington, DC to Portland and Berkeley.
Fascists are the street wing of the Trump agenda. We have to shut them down wherever they organize. But above all, we can’t let them stop us from standing up to the state, the chief source of authoritarian violence.
“These goons are of great use to the authorities. They can carry out attacks that the state is not yet able to, intimidating those who might otherwise rebel. They distract from the institutionalized violence of the state, which is still the cause of most of the oppression that takes place in our society. Above all, they enable the authorities to portray themselves as neutral keepers of the peace.”
And Keep the Pressure on ICE
For years, people concerned about the violence of immigration enforcement sought a point of intervention to take action against it. At the beginning of the Trump era, we proposed that people build on the example of the airport blockades by shutting down ICE offices. This summer, the Occupy ICE model finally took off, with occupations all around the United States.
The movement has managed to accomplish a lot with a relatively small amount of people. Unlike astroturf movements like the March for Our Lives that rapidly became a series of promotional events for the Democratic Party, Occupy ICE has offered agency to the exploited and excluded and achieved a direct impact. This has included direct aid and solidarity for the struggles of immigrants, halting specific deportations, and delaying deportations on a larger scale. Occupy ICE has blocked the Trump administration’s policy of breaking up families and forced Trump to try to distance himself from his own policy.
In short, direct action gets the goods: we don’t need political parties to make change, we can take action ourselves to force the state to stop what it is doing.
Unlike the top-down decision involving the FBI and DHS to clear the Occupy encampments in coordinated attacks, the Trump administration has thus far permitted cities to handle the encampments on their own, presumably for fear that centralized repression would backfire. In response, fascists and others on the far right have taken on the task of attacking the encampments themselves, following in the footsteps of DHS agents. The fascists aspire to act as an auxiliary force of repression to do what the forces of the state cannot currently do.
However, this strategy can backfire on those who hold state power. The failure of the “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville a year ago cost the Trump regime dearly. Likewise, the decision to rely on evidence provided by far-right surveillance vigilantes Project Veritas cost prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff the entire J20 case. When fascists and other grassroots reactionaries overextend themselves, their failures can undermine the legitimacy of the reigning party they hope to support. We have to see fascist attacks as an opportunity to seize the initiative in our struggle against the state.
Above all, fascists would like us to narrow the scope of our efforts to countering their organizing; they aim to trap us in a private grudge match while the state continues to mass-incarcerate and deport people. We beat them by organizing movements that can take on the chief source of oppression, the state itself.
The organizers of a looming nationwide prison strike have expressed solidarity with Occupy ICE, linking the fight against prison slavery to the call to abolish ICE. This has come in the form of statements from prison strike leaders in support of Occupy ICE and also recent hunger strikes in solidarity with hunger-striking migrant detainees. When prisoners unite across racial lines against prison slavery, it’s up to us to do the same on the outside.
So in solidarity with #AllOutAugust, we encourage people to continue to organize blockades against ICE facilities; to continue to defend Occupy ICE camps and reenergize them with events, music, films, and discussions; and to mobilize solidarity around the prison strike, as well. It is easy to draw links between resistance to prison slavery and the fight to abolish ICE and the borders it violently enforces. Continuing to support the Occupy ICE camps and anti-ICE blockades is one of many ways to act in solidarity with the prison strike.
Entering into open conflict with fascists is often terrifying. Yet we hope that the movement for a world without oppression can come out of the trying events of August stronger—and that as the summer comes to a close, the struggles against borders, fascists, and police will converge in new ways and gain new momentum.
Good luck out there, dear comrades.