A downloadable version of this press release can be accessed here: gdc.14.2017.03.27.M31.PR.2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: The Twin Cities General Defense Committee, Local 14 (Attn: Erik D.)

Email: tc-gdc-lst@iww.org

Anti-Fascist Rally at University of Minnesota to Unite People Against Hatred and Violence

The University of Minnesota was chosen to highlight the recruiting efforts of white supremacists on university campuses and the problems with administration defense of ‘free speech.’

 What: Anti-Fascist Rally to unite people against hatred

When: 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31

Where: University of Minnesota’s Coffman Union plaza

Who: The Twin Cities General Defense Committee, Local 14, I.W.W, with same-day rallies in Seattle, Atlanta, Kansas City, Madison, and more.

On Friday, March 31, at 5:30 p.m., people from all over the Twin Cities and beyond will hold a public rally at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Union plaza. We will demonstrate our support for all fighting against oppression and our solidarity with all those who are under attack by the mounting right-wing wave of violence in the U.S. The rally will include speakers, group discussions, and educational activities. This is a family-friendly event. All who want a more peaceful and just world are invited. 

Other Endorsing Organizations: Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, Justice 4 Marcus Golden, Blue Lies Matter, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Twin Cities Jewish Voice for Peace, UMN Students for a Democratic Society, UMN Students for Justice in Palestine.

 

Three reasons the rally is being held on a university campus:

  1. On January 20th, our friend and fellow organizer Hex was shot and critically injured on the campus of University of Washington – Seattle by an alt-right supporter of Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump. Anti-fascists in 5 cities across the country will rally on March 31 to stand in solidarity with Hex and to educate the public about the dangers of fascism.
  2. Alt-Right fascists recruit heavily among university campuses, and as such, antisemitic, misogynist, and racist behavior on campuses has spiked. The alt-right claims they only engage in academic debate and free speech, but they make real threats and commit real violence. We will not permit anyone to ‘debate’ the humanity of others.
  3. University and college administrations have continually failed to protect their students from fascist organizations, especially in the face of speaking tours that openly target members of the student body and are obviously designed as recruitment techniques. University administrators claim that the right of free speech prevents them from protecting local students. But this allows organized fascists to restrict targeted students’ freedoms by making them unsafe on campuses.

 

More on questions of free speech:

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and its General Defense Committee have fought harder than most organizations in support of free speech. At one time, our union was practically synonymous with fights for free speech, as politicians and bosses denied our ability to speak in public about unions.

Today, university administrators ask us instead to believe that freedom of speech means supporting money-making tours of hatred with university resources. The free speech the IWW fights for is not a constitutional right, but the right of free people to speak.

Free people and societies are created through our collective struggle and must be fought for and defended. Nazis are definitely not in favor of free people, and we will spend our time resisting fascism and hatred, not debating its rights.

And so we will gather together to declare a communal resistance to hatred, oppression, and fascism. We recognize and respect the many types of struggle which will be necessary to defend each other and our communities. We demand that university administrations end their lazy justifications of organized hate speech and targeted violence against their own student bodies.

 

We must confront rising hate:

The U.S. has seen over 1000 hate crimes since Trump’s election, representing a double-digit increase, with major urban areas seeing the largest rise. New York and Chicago both saw a 24% rise in hate crimes during 2016, amid the presidential campaign.

Jewish cemeteries around the country have been vandalized, and transgender people have reported an increase in violent harassment. Srinivas Kuchibhotla was murdered in Kansas City by a man screaming “Get out of my country.”

Here’s just some of what Minnesota’s seen in the last few months:

  • A member of our groups’ family’s dream home in Delano, Minnesota, was broken into, burglarized, and covered with racist graffiti, including the N word, swastikas, and threats like: “Next time it’s going to be fire.”
  • Moorhead State University has seen racist political signs left outside dorm rooms.
  • Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American lawmaker, was threatened and called “ISIS” by a cabdriver in D.C.
  • A family in Oakdale had an anti-Chinese slur painted on their garage door.
  • The University of Saint Thomas has had multiple racist slurs appear on sidewalks and public spaces.
  • Swastikas have been carved into tables in public spaces at Macalester College and other local colleges.
  • High schools throughout the area, including Maple Grove, have similarly seen a massive rise in hate speech.

Just some of the recent hate at the University of Minnesota:

  • UMN student Matthew Gruber drew swastikas and pictures of a concentration camp on a student’s dorm whiteboard.
  • UMN was one of many universities that was hacked so that printers started spewing antisemitic fliers.
  • Right-wing student groups painted a “Build the Wall” mural on the Washington Avenue Bridge. When anti-racists painted over it, President Kaler bemoaned the loss of free speech.
  • When a UMN Muslim Student group’s mural on the same bridge went up, it was vandalized with the word “ISIS.”
  • In a similar propaganda lie by campus right-wing activists, Students for Justice in Palestine have been accused of being agents of Hamas.
  • UMN fraternities such as Delta Chi have been accused of engaging in organized misogyny and contributing to rape culture.
  • The UMN Football team temporarily decided to attempt a boycott of their games, rather than have their teammates investigated for sexual-misconduct.
  • The UMN Bias Response Team appears to be nothing more than a blanket to cover Kaler’s shame, with no intention of actually defending students.

We cannot rely on university administrators, politicians, or police to defend us. They will not. Instead, we must defend ourselves and each other.
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