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Sacramento Stabbings Should’ve Sparked Free Speech Debate

Updated on July 4, 2016
Bobby Shanahan profile image

Robert is a freelance writer/researcher in the Seattle, WA area. He covers current political, economic, and geopolitical news.

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Neo-Nazis have no right to free speech?

Last Sunday in Sacramento, California, seven people were stabbed in front of the State Capitol. Ten total were hospitalized. The violence began before the start of a rally, organized and fully permitted, by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). Before the noon rally even began, up to 400 “anti-fascist” protesters, organized by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), descended on the grounds to confront around 30 or so white supremacists.

The police were vastly outnumbered and could not keep the peace. For much of the afternoon, the Capitol was locked down after the TWP was shut down and beat down. With numerous videos of vicious attacks occurring right in front of police officers, still no arrests have been made as of this writing.

In an exclusive interview to Breitbart News, a California law enforcement officer speaking on condition of anonymity said that the group of 30 permitted demonstrators from the extremist TWP were physically attacked Sunday by BAMN. The TWP were merely standing on the steps of the Capitol, when all hell broke loose.

TWP Vice Chairman, Matt Parrott, blamed the “leftists radicals” for starting the violence. His group was greatly outnumbered by the “counter-protesters,” who somehow claimed to be acting in self defense by stopping the group’s recruitment efforts.

“The Nazis are the violent ones -- we are acting in self defense,” said Yvette Felarca, a Northern California coordinator for BAMN, who had a massive bandage on her head while giving the interview. “We need to take them head on, confront them, but with as many people as possible.” Felarca’s group was the one who showed up armed with bats, knives, and other weapons, geared up for a fight.

This was a preplanned attack.

By any means necessary

The rally was organized by TWP to “protest against globalization” and defend “the right to free expression.” Yet, they were not allowed to hold their rally, as their First Amendment rights were stifled by a militant group. RT spoke to a representative of TWP, which had originally been accused of initiating the violence in Sacramento. Party Chairman Matthew Heimbach rejected the accusations as “ridiculous” and claimed that his group “was outnumbered by eight to one” with the counter-protesters who “had baseball bats, knives, bottles.”

“We were the ones who were attacked by people who had weapons and saying that they were going to kill us. This is attempted and premeditated murder,” Heimback said, adding that the counter-protestors were shouting “kill the Nazis.

While the TWP does not exactly represent American values, they still have a right to say what they want to say, no matter how offensive. BAMN had a mission to harm and possibly kill some of these neo-Nazis, as evidenced by the almost dozen protesters put in the hospital. Counter-protesting is one thing. Outright attacking protesters in broad daylight in front of police is quite another. This kind of militancy is un-American, and has no place in our society.

The Los Angeles Times also reported:

“Some protesters came dressed for battle, several seen carrying wooden batons and some wearing plastic shields. ‘They came ready to fight,’ said Cooper. One local television crew was accosted by the protesters that showed up to confront the white supremacist group. John Breedlove, a videographer for KCRA-TV, said the protester ‘took his skateboard and just slammed it into the reporter’s gut.’ Neither journalist was seriously injured."

So, the neo-Nazis, in addition to some members of the press, were attacked simply for being there. The TWP has no right to protest and the media has no right to cover it, according to the left-wing radicals of BAMN. The “anti-fascist” group came ready for a fight and did not want the media to tell the true story.

“A lot of counter protestors in all black, covering their faces,” Frances Wang of ABC Sacramento tweeted. “For some reason, they don’t like media.”

This kind of political violence has been increasing across the country over this presidential election cycle. Members of this same group are the ones responsible for a number of attacks, labeled as “counter-protests,” including attacks on Donald Trump supporters at recent rallies in San Jose and Orange County. And yet, Mr. Trump is labeled the fascist dictator, constantly blamed for the violence at his rallies, perpetrated by BAMN, and other anarchist-loving groups.

Chaos helps TWP not BAMN

From BAMN’s website:

"Some people will say: “Ignore them, stay home, they are too small to be a threat, protesting against them will give them the publicity they want”, etc. Those encouraging this kind of “do-nothing” strategy are either naive fools or deceitful traitors. Ignoring the Nazis/KKK gives them an open platform to recruit, consolidate their organization and build their campaign. If we do not organize to protest at the same time and same place as the Nazis/KKK, then the only people in attendance will be those who are considering joining their ranks. We must be there to make sure that anyone sympathetic to their message is unable to hear it and has an extremely discouraging day.

By having a massive anti-racist, anti-fascist protest at the State Capitol on June 26, we will make sure that any publicity or news coverage of the day will show thousands of Latina/o, black, Asian, Arab and anti-racist white youth fighting for progress. If we stay home and allow them to have an open platform, any media coverage they receive will portray an unopposed successful event at which a small group of determined, proud racists were able to boldly assert themselves, recruit new members and advance a new campaign for racist terror and ultimately genocide. This is a scenario we cannot allow to happen. Instead, the racists must be sent scurrying for their cars as they are confronted with the strength of California’s powerful Latina/o and black communities. That is not the kind of publicity the Nazis want.

We need to make clear to every fascist and fascist-sympathizer promoting white supremacy and racist violence that they will face militant, organized, and determined opposition. This is our fight to make and our future to win."

Amazingly, BAMN does not realize that they have actually given more publicity and attention to TWP. By creating such a story about stifled free speech via violence, BAMN has directed much more attention to this white nationalist group than they otherwise would have. Furthermore, attacking them in such a direct way certainly increases recruitment for these white supremacist groups, the exact opposite aim of anarchists, such as Felarca.

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To protect and serve?

The police response to this horrifying attack on free speech was unsatisfactory. They did not protect the TWP, allowing BAMN free reign to beat up whoever they want, despite the fact that they knew violence was more than a possibility.

Matt Parrott, spokesman for the white supremacist group, said he did not anticipate the unprofessionalism of the Sacramento Police Department and California Highway Patrol. “Now, what we hadn’t anticipated,” Parrot began, “was that the Sacramento police were going to actively and deliberately set us up for ambush by allowing angry mobs to come at our guys. We obviously didn’t anticipate that.” Were the cops directed to not intervene in the melee? Were they simply outnumbered? Or did they just want to see some neo-Nazis get beat up? Either way, they did not do their job.

James Lee Clark, a homeless activist, said he was surprised that police allowed the anti-fascist demonstrators to engage the neo-Nazis. “It was weird,” he said. “They usually they don’t let us anywhere near them.”

“We’ve protested against them (neo-Nazis) in previous years, and we’ve never been allowed on state property during the rally, and this time we were there,” he added. “We had the steps. They didn’t try to stop us … it was a pretty interesting dynamic.”

The Los Angeles Times is still somehow blaming right-wing extremists for the start of the violence on Sunday. Citing the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League, the Times reported: “The [right-wing] groups will often announce a rally, seemingly bait counter-demonstrators into violence, and then use video footage of the attacks as further evidence of the ‘white genocide’ they use as a rallying call.” How can they possibly think this is what the TWP wants? Why would they want to initiate violence against themselves? So they can claim they are being attacked? Anyone who watches the videos and looks into this in detail can clearly see that BAMN instigated the violence and were there to shut the TWP down.

This incident should have set off a debate on political organizations, protesting, and free speech. Unfortunately, this story has fallen off of the headlines far too quickly, if you heard about it at all.

Breitbart News reported that left-wing extremist groups, such as BAMN, have deliberately used violence against right-wing extremists to further their own radical agenda. The groups bring knives and planks of wood to right-wing rallies, and their members usually wear masks.

They do not want to be identified because they know they are committing crimes against humanity and crimes against free speech. This kind of attack against a permitted and peaceful demonstration cannot be accepted in America.

We are better than this.

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