"How did you get through these barricades?" the boy in blue demanded from the scruffy black man who was wandering, somewhat confused through what was supposed to be York, Pennsylvania's highest security area.
"I just walked y’ung. I'm tryin' to get to the other side. I need to get to work bro'" the man answered. The cop look embarrassed, and then began to berate and abuse the man for the benefit of the early rising members of the press core.
"Can't you see the signs -- no one allowed beyond this point? What do you think those signs mean? Get out of here!" he yelled.
We were in for a long, hard day of street battles and rioting. A totally inadequate, and somewhat confused, York, PA police force had deployed and a just as poorly coordinated union of America's three largest national socialist and white supremacist groups was coming to town to hear some speeches, wave some flags, and give some "sieg heils." Opposing them was a ragtag group of sociopaths, the imitation "Black Block" of Anti-Racist Action, who was there to smash anything that came in their way -- cars, heads, windows -- as long the owners appeared white -- and maybe toss some urine around while they were at it. By the time the day was over, dozens would be in jail, at least four cars would be destroyed, a truck would prove that you can destroy the Black Block by hitting it with a truck, at least 13 innocent white citizens would be the victims of the racist ARA lynch mob, and confrontations between gun toting racialists and club wielding anarchists would leave one skinhead in jail, several ARA’ers in the hospital, and one teenage girl with a broken finger.
It was the largest police deployment in York since the race riots in 1969, and it was the largest gathering of swastika flying national socialists in recent memory. The rally demonstrated the growing power of the white supremacist movement, and demonstrated the growing weakness of its "anti-racist" opponents. And while a poor black neighborhood may not have been the best setting for a nazi rally -- several hundred interested neighbors decided to come out for the show -- it certainly was a setting that made a statement about the growing ability of radical white nationalist forces to spark a flame in people's hearts.
Prior to the rally, your humble correspondent had received a number of invitations from various groups organizing or speaking at the event. Matt Hale, of the World Church of the Creator, had told me he would reserve a seat. Billy Roper, of the National Alliance, had made the same offer. Another skinhead organizer who had been briefed on the secret plans for the scheduled right-wing guests of the rally to meet at a local hotel managed by a National Alliance member, invited me to participate in their police protection plan -- protected parking, a police escort to the rally, and a police escort out. I declined, as it turned out fortunately, as I had wanted to keep anyone from being confused as to which side I was on (my own). Already one misguided and hopelessly ignorant “anti-racist” organizer had called the local press to tell them that I, your humble writer, was the Aryan mastermind behind this devious disruption of York's normal life. As one local reporter put it
"The ARA guy who called was very strange."
Little did these folk extending invitations know, however, that the police would be as disorganized as themselves. Though the men in charge seemed to be in contact -- Roper and Hale kept in constant communication by cell phone, and the top cops had all huddled together in their command center -- the men on the ground seemed to hardly know what their other comrades were doing. The York City Police Lieutenant that had promised Billy Roper protection -- and a guaranteed seat at a meeting where he was supposed to speak -- hadn't communicated it to the Pennsylvania State Police troopers guarding the parking lot where they were supposed to assemble -- and as a result, the National Alliance contingent had to find their own way into and out of the demonstration. This moving on their own in an unfamiliar city was, of course, the spark that led to the violence and rioting. When asked about this at the press conference afterwards, a Major from the Pennsylvania state police lied to me, and said no offer of protection had ever been made. As Roper put it in response to an emailed inquiry:
"[W]e had arranged and planned to all park in the parking garage a block and a half away from the library. We had even arranged to hire private security to watch our cars, but the police told us the day before that that wouldn't be necessary because they would watch our cars there. When we arrived Saturday morning the parking garage had been cordoned and barricaded off, so all of our people had to disperse to different parking garages and lots. This was the cause of a lot of the violence that ensued, as our groups reconverged. I personally felt that the police were trying to divide us and keep us divided. Most of them were clueless rather than malicious, though."
The police were also unprepared for the intensity of the random violence inflicted on the town by Anti-Racist Action, which had gathered into a preliminary "Black Block" as early as 9:30 that morning -- half an hour before any of the police force commanders had arrived on the scene, and half an hour before any riot police were deployed. By 9:50 AM they had begun barricading roads and attacking passerbys. Two men, which some media claimed were National Alliance members, but who’s status was unclear, were dragged from their truck and beaten. As the AP put it, in describing one of several similar attacks that occurred that morning:
"Chad Vylonis, 26, of Dowagiac, Mich., got a large gash in his lip and had his bottom teeth loosened when an anti-racist protester smashed the window of the pickup truck driven by his brother, Ryan. ... Vylonis said he was in town to help his brother move so [he] could attend cooking school in York."
But attacking random citizens wasn't all ARA was good for. They also attacked random journalists. In the words of a second AP article:
"A newspaper photographer said demonstrators threw concrete at him Saturday. ... Greg Mahany, 44, a photographer with the York Dispatch, was treated and released at York Hospital for a head injury. He said he thinks the concrete was thrown by anarchists..."
A reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and at least two other female journalists, were also assaulted. So were four undercover cops and one undercover FBI agent -- all of whom responded by arresting as many ARA activists as they could grab. And these men and women weren't attacked because they were five-oh. No. ARA didn't know they were five-oh. They were attacked because they were white, and "anti-racist" action, far from living up to its name, showed everyone that day that racist lynch mobs don't always come to town waving swastikas. As one activist, identified only as “Willie”, wrote on Indymedia.org:
“Does the reckless celebration of blood, brutality and violence by ‘anti-racists’ smack of the very image anyone with an ounce of human decency is supposed to be against?”
So it was a curious situation – which inspired a curious question. As one rather militant black journalist pointed out in the press pit, there were very few if no minorities among the anti-racist demonstrators -- so why were so-called "white" kids engaged in anti-white violence? It is clear the ethnic hatred that appeared to motivate ARA did not emerge from the white community. And since most of the ARA "activists" had no problem committing acts of racist terror against white citizens -- so to claim that it was hatred of racism that motivated them was simply incorrect. It was hatred of white people as white people – and one had to wonder if what motivated them was the large number of Jewish activist that had blurred into their crowd many of whom used their best oratory to attempt to harangue the city's black residents into joining their violent frenzy.
And my sources inside this Black Block -- three activists I had met with the night before to get some assistance in coverage of the event -- tell me that ethnic tension and racial stereotyping was certainly a factor in the group’s nihilistic racial tendencies. Though none of the activists there was overtly racist, they all used crypto-racial terminology to categorize different kinds of white people to justify their violence. The white working class was “redneck”. The white middle class was “yuppy.” If they appeared to be wealthy whites, they were “rich bastards.” But all of these categories were racially limited – middle class Jews weren’t “yuppies” and working class black people weren’t “rednecks” – even if they were from the country.
The group that took the brunt of ARA’s racial hatred, of course, was the white working class. It was shocking to see the privileged children of the wealthy bourgeoisie engaging in racist violence against non-racist working people, and then justifying their own racist violence in the name of "opposing racism". From this, for a moment, one almost thought one was witnessing a seen in occupied Palestine.
After the event, a number of component ARA groups went out of their way to deny links to Jewish extremists. The Barricada Collective put out a press statement saying:
"Barricada has recently been accused through many public forums of having working ties to the Jewish Defense League (JDL). Barricada has never had any ties, unofficial or official, to the Jewish Defense League. All our members agree that the JDL is a dangerous and fascist organization."
It was amusing and ironic. Here was a dangerous fascist organization of disproportionately Jewish members spending their day launching terrorist assaults on innocent white civilians while calling the JDL "dangerous and fascist" for doing the same thing. And while there is no real link between the two groups, Barricada might do well to ask themselves why the rumor was so easily believable? Is there a difference between a group of reactionary Jewish nationalists who engage in racist terror and a group of reactionaries who do it in the name of Bolshevik-styled "anti-racism"?
And the Barricada press statement was full of other errors. While they may technically have been correct in claiming
"locals joined in violent confrontations with neo-nazis"
they neglected to mention that the only locals who did so were either obviously intoxicated or under the age of 16. Most of the locals, being almost entirely from the surrounding impoverished black residential area, just stood and looked on in silence and sadness at the white nationalist movement they couldn't understand. And despite their obvious opposition to racism, they had little sympathy for the privileged youth who had come to bring violence and devastation to their neighborhood. After all, at the end of the day, ARA could leave the riot zone and go back home to their big houses in Massachusetts and New York, while the community members had to leave in the mess and the debris ARA had created. In the words of black resident Melinda Randall, who witnessed the Barricada lynchers attack a white neighbor for no reason:
"[ARA] should never have come here. They should never have come here. We don't want them here. Why couldn't the police have kept them from coming here."
Early on in the day, despite some hate crimes by the ARA lynch mob, from the press pit the day seemed like it would be boring. That was until a marching group rounded a corner carrying red and black flags and began to march inside the police perimeter towards the police line. It appeared at first that the Black Block, who had been circling the police perimeter for the past hour, always appearing just beyond the range of sight, marching by, and disappearing behind a corner or a building, was charging the police line -- and that the defenses in place were not going to be adequate to hold it. The press pit panicked. Reporters began packing up TV cameras and writers began to run back from the barricades. There was no telling who ARA would attack.
Then the flags unfurled. Swastikas. And scores of people. One hundred and fifty members of the Hammerskins and other affiliates, led by armed beret and BDU clad Aryan Nations organizers, had decided to demand their right to assemble and hear Matt Hale speak. They were shortly joined by fifty more supporters. From another direction, fifty more people arrived -- Billy Roper's detachment from the National Alliance. It was an impressive scene. The press calmed down when it was evident the groups wouldn’t charge, and jokes were made about the movie “Higher Learning.” The two groups remained at separate barricades for more than an hour, unaware of each other's existence, and unaware of whether or not the police would allow them to join in attendance.
Clubs, Guns and Pickup Trucks
Part of the reason for the separation was the failure of the National Alliance and the Hammerskins to give many of their members who had not been invited to participate in the secured parking proper directions as to where to go. An unfortunate result was that the majority of the Hammerskins, who came up in several large white pickup trucks, ended up parking in a lot about a quarter of a block South of the anti-racist demonstration.
The real violence started in the afternoon, after two o'clock, as the police ordered the white nationalist crowd to disperse. According to one activist on scene, the police simply walked up to them and said:
“You all have five minutes to disperse or your going to be arrested.”
But of course there was nowhere for them to go – they were surrounded by a riled ARA mob and about three hundred mostly black spectators. The white supremacist groups took the only course available – they began to withdraw en masse through an alleyway. Some apparently decided to return to the library. The police provided neither group with protection from the club, hockey stick, baseball bat, and baton wielding anti-racists who had twice before tested the police lines to try to attack the national socialist crowd. Eventually the police deployed three officers to stop and armed crowd of two hundred and fifty, and the result was predictable.
A battle erupted between skinheads and anarchists who simply overwhelmed the few officers on scenes, and several members of ARA were left beaten on the ground after having been smashed with their own clubs. Several of the Hammerskins also suffered injuries, and at least three were seen bleeding from club wounds inflicted during ARA’s initial ambush.
Though ARA’s Barricada collective would later claim that there were:
"several broken bones, and countless bruises"
among the Nazis from this fight, in reality none of the skinheads suffered worse than a bloody nose. In fact, after the battle, the white supremacists joked that ARA had simply proven that can only win fights when it outnumbers its opponents ten to one or more -- a situation that was helped by the police dispersing the supremacists into small groups.
As the fight moved through the alley, into a nearby parking lot, the Hammerskins seemed ready to pack up and leave, until they spotted a group of Anti-Racist Activists beating the windows out of one of their trucks. The skins charged in an enraged and undisciplined mass, most of them wielding flagpoles and batons, and crashed into a police line which was trying to force the anti-racists back away from the vehicles. The result was cops fighting skinheads fighting anarchists for several confused minutes, ending with several more folk on all sides bleeding from club wounds. Several of the fighters on all sides were detained, though most were released minutes later. The ARA activist who broke the windows was arrested and charged, and several ARA activists were run down with police horses after throwing bricks at the animals.
At this point in time more of the local residents of York -- many of whom were drawn to the event after seeing them reported on live local television feeds – gathered and began to circle. The police reacted slowly and with indecision, allowing them to surround the parking lot, and consequently extending the police line beyond the ability of the number of officers on the scene. The situation was reminiscent of the siege of the Welsh regiment by African Impis in the movie Zulu. One almost expected the skinheads to break into chorus with:
"Men of Harlech stop your dreaming, Can't you see their spear points gleaming? And their warrior pennants streaming? To the battlefield!"
The police had not put any plan in place to deal with this circumstance. Beforehand, Pravda had asked their commander what he intended to do if their were more white supremacists than could fit in the library. He had replied, with cock-sured-ness:
“Well, we’re just hoping that situation doesn’t occur.”
And eventually the police, lacking a plan to deal with this circumstance, made another bad decision, and decided to "escort" the skinheads out a back alleyway. Of course, just as with their last "escort", they deployed an inadequate number of men to secure the route -- one reason may have been that they were so short of manpower that they did not have enough men to take from the parking lot line to do so. Apparently the police, who at this point should have had no excuse for underestimating the potential for violence, felt that simply driving a police car through the demonstrator's lines would be sufficient to guarantee safe travel for any vehicles following. They were wrong, and a tragedy resulted.
The sherriff's car that led off got through fine, but the first Hammerskin pickup truck that was driving behind it did not. No sooner had it entered the mob than ARA, infuriated at having been bruised in the battle for the alleyway, descended on it. At least six ARA activists physically got on top of the truck, some wielding batons, those not wielding batons wielding Nazi flag poles they had captured, and immediately began to try to pull the young man from the car – apparently with the intention of clubbing him to death. Several of those gathered were shouting for the activists to kill him. The lynch mob had descended to the standards of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan – it resembled scenes of Jewish "Freedom Riders" being drug from their buses by Southern Whites in the 1960s.
The young man in the car of course panicked. He had tried to reverse and had spun around, and then shifted gears out of reverse and hit the accelerator. The gears didn't immediately catch. The cars wheels spun and when the gear caught the truck shot forward right through the heart of the jeering, rock throwing, club wielding ARA mob. Activists literally went flying through the air. One appeared to land on the other side of a nearby low fence, about twenty feet away. Dozens of people were thrown to the ground. One masked anarchist youth, later taken to a hospital in unknown condition, was hit and dragged twenty feet. The police, just starting to arrive on scene, charged. Nearly a score of ARA activists, including the injured who had been thrown from their positions on the top of the truck's cab and bed, were arrested and drug off. Over a dozen were later charged.
The anti-racists had come to York to seek violence, and they had found it. It put them in a hospital bed, or left them limping away, their black flags in tatters. One nearby resident began screaming that the white racist had run over a little black girl. The stage was set for the afternoon's race violence.
The police sealed the scene and arrested the driver. The first reports in the press deliberately tried to play the incident down, describing it as a "car accident". One "anti-racist" group in York suggested the youth had been merely "driving recklessly". Even the police seemed inclined to play along -- charging the Hammerskin with "disorderly conduct" and telling him he was to be released. But after protests were made to the police department from various political concerns, the young man, who had only tried to protect himself, was maliciously charged with four counts of "aggravated assault with a vehicle." Your humble correspondent immediately volunteered himself as a witness for the youth's defense.
As the skinheads left the city, ARA organizers who had not dispersed -- maybe twenty five to thirty five of them in all -- began to incite small gathering on the streets corners along with several black York residents, demanding that cars full of skinheads trying to leave the city by the Southern route be attacked. According to police accounts, National Alliance and Hammerskin supporters chased the crowds away by drawing concealed handguns in at least three incidents. In two of those incidents, police detained the gun wielding national socialists.
In one specific case, Pravda was told that the skinhead youth who's car windows had already been broken in the parking lot, had been told by police to go to a local station and file a report. Given that an angry mob was between him and the station, he asked for a police escort. The police detained the youth in the smashed truck while his comrades left through the alley, and then abandoned the youth, telling them they didn't have enough officers left to protect him. The youth was then attacked by about sixty individuals, mostly local black teenagers, egged on by ARA. The youth’s girlfriend apparently punched an ARA activist too hard, breaking her finger -- the most serious injury a skinhead suffered that day. Witnesses say that an ARA activist began to club the skinhead youth in the head. The youth, who was armed, and who had so far shown considerable restraint, then drew his concealed handgun and waved it at the crowd, causing the cowardly mob to disperse. The youth, who had been set up for violence by the police, was immediately arrested for the crime of self defense.
In at least one other case, a member of the Aryan Nations displayed a gun, again dispersing a largely crowd who had attacked him because of their superior numbers.
In a third incident, one reporter told Pravda that shots were fired, though police officially did not confirm this. Pravda later spoke to a skinhead who witnessed the incident, and who stated that "warning shots" were fired over the heads of ARA activists who attempted to lynch his comrade.
Conclusions and Aftermath
Meeting with other reporters in the press lounge afterwards, many of the white reporters were outraged at the day's events. A journalist for a major metropolitan daily told Pravda that after being attacked by ARA he had begun to understand some of what the white supremacists had had to say to him in interview. Another female television journalist also expressed sympathies. A tv cameraman for another station told Pravda privately that he felt that the blacks had been responsible for the violence now, and had gotten what they deserved in 1969 when the Police Chief had handed ammunition to young white residents and told them to go shoot rioting "niggers" who had murdered at least one white and who were burning down the inner town. Coming from journalists, such comments were remarkable.
Even those journalists who didn't feel sympathy to the Nazis certainly had no love for Anti-Racist Action. Most said they were trying to figure how to spin ARA in a negative light in such a way that their editors wouldn't stop the article from running. As it turned out, from reading the drivel that was generally produced, most of them were not successful. It would be highly unusual for the American press, which is largely owned by Jews, who are of course opposed to white nationalism and the promotion of anti-white-nationalist causes, to honestly report on the despicable and randomly violent assaults of people who are essentially following the program that the Jewish owners of the American media want to promote. Instead, the articles that were produced in the American press largely focused on quoting residents who either "grudgingly" defending the white racists' right to speak versus residents who felt the police should have violently suppressed the white racists' right to speak.
But despite the media spin, ARA proved that its ability to organize and coordinate a large scale action was weak – a mobilization of an entire quarter of the nation had only drawn 100 people. The twelve year old braggadocio that various collectives claimed in their subsequent statements couldn't make up for the widely broadcast photographs of the event, clearly showing what ARA had really done. Had the police been interested in keeping the peace rather than bungling around setting up violence that some of them apparently thought would discourage the supremacists from marching again in their town, the day's events may have been very different – much more devastating for the anti-racists, and much calmer.
Given the trends of the past few months, white nationalism continues to be on the rise -- which, given the extreme nature of the ideologies involved, is not necessarily a positive development. While all of these groups continue to be plagued by organizational problems and inexperience with demonstrations -- many Hammerskins blamed poor planning and a lack of decent directions on the part of the National Alliance for the destruction of their trucks -- it should be expected that they will continue to develop these capabilities. It may be that the next few events will see a better disciplined, better communicating, and more aware group engaging in confrontations against an enemy they are starting to understand.
In contrast, the prognosis for the anti-racist action / "left" anarchist segment of the black block seems dim. While the real, anti-globalist black block will likely continue to be effective in mobilizations against corporate globalism, the number of black block activists who share the nihilistic hatred of white people that drives such “anti-racist” violence is limited. As the events of September 11 and the failure of the US government to address the root cause of the terrorist bombing in the US relationship with Israel continue to alienate large segments of both the general population and the left, and the writings of groups like the SPLC and the ADL continue to alienate the Black Block from the Jewish community, one should expect to see less and less anarchists accepting thinly veiled anti-white racist rhetoric as "anti-racism", and less and less anarchists interested in participating in racist lynch mob activities.
Further, the continuing campaign against globalism is becoming more and more incompatible with the propaganda of opposing "anti-Semitism". Because there is increasing perception of Jewish control of the instruments of globalism -- such as the World Economic Forum which the Black Block is protesting in New York in late January, founded by Jewish businessman Maurice Levy, managed by Jewish businessman Richard Attias, -- there are increasing questions in the minds of some anarchists as to the role that Jewish ethnicity and Jewish elements of the ruling class play in systems of oppression they are striking out against. This, combined with phenomena like the growing National Anarchist movement and other non-orthodox approaches to the anarcho-socialist position, and the lack of anarchist ideologues to denounce and steer the movement "back on course" in the manner of Trotskyite vanguardists, has begun to erode the core demographic from which the ARA-faction of the black block draws its support. If young men and women who reject the legitimacy of the government are given alternative ideologies which serve the same emotional need to express anger and alienation that ARA nihilism gives, it is likely that those young men and women who turn to racist lynchings for the purpose of emotional release will be equally likely to transfer those feeling to expressions of anarchism's "national" variants as they are their "anti-national" variants -- drawing strength away from what used to be the only game in town.
It would not be surprising to see current trends continuing into the short term, and if another event such as that of September 11 occurs, and that event can again be directly linked to US-Israeli policy, and if the US government continues to refuse to address the growingly unpopular program of US support and aid to the Israeli regime, it is likely that the trend will accelerate, as the demonstrable results of the last such act led to a definite increase in the rate at which new members are joining these organization. Further, street demonstrations such as the York protests are building support for these groups among the broader community of white activists, and are impressing many individuals who would otherwise be "fence-sitters" into coming out and being more active in national socialist activity. As this is occurring as organized resistance to this activity is weakening, and as resistance to these movements among the general population is decreasing, it seems that the factors that would tend to limit or reduce the rate of growth of this movement are becoming less and less significant.
In sum, there is a real national socialist movement developing in America, and its growth is paralleling the growth of similar movements, such as the British Nationalist Party in Britain, the National Democratic Party in Germany, Russian National Unity in Russia, and more moderate "right-wing" governments in Italy, Austria -- as well as outright national socialist contenders who have won or nearly won elections in Romania and Bulgaria. This "world wide increase in anti-Semitism" which has recently been decried by the Zionist occupiers of Palestine has truly become global, and past approaches, including meaningless rote denunciations of "hate" and "racism" and the applications of century old Marxist analyses of fascism to modern, post-fascist ideologies, will either have to be changed by the anti-racist left or are inevitably doomed to fail.
Photo: After a failed attack on the skinheads, ARA members were beaten with their own clubs.
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