A formatted version of this press release for download is available here: M31.GDC.14.PR.3
The Facebook page for this event is available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/380775635654880
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WHEN: Friday, March 31st, 5:30 PM
WHERE: Coffman Union Plaza, UMN Campus (on Green Line)
WHAT: Antifascist Rally and Educational Events, family friendly
CONTACT: Twin Cities General Defense Committee, Local 14 (Attn: Erik)
EMAIL: tc-gdc- firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday’s Public Antifascist Rally on UMN Campus Intends to Unite Those Struggling Against Multiple Oppressions
Resistance is our legacy and our duty. Solidarity is our weapon.
Fascism is not a dominant political ideology in the country today, but it is on the rise. It is on the rise in coalition with a wide range of far-right activists and politicians who are happy to use the fascists as their shock troops, as they enact yet more oppressive measures on us. Fascism must be opposed not because it is the biggest threat to humanity, but because of the speed with which it spreads, the violence and terror it uses as its standard strategy, and its influence on other right-wing groups who cooperate with fascists.
Donald Trump might not be a fascist. Steve Bannon certainly might be. The Alt-Right openly is. These coalitions and movements should concern us, and encourage us to fight against them. A strong antifascist strategy looks not only at open fascists like the Alt-Right groups currently recruiting on this campus, but at their coalitions. Oppression is not limited to fascism, and antifascists resist all oppression. The history of the last 500 years encourages us to recognize that, as the I.W.W. union slogan says, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Resisting those causing injury and defending against them all together is a necessary step we must all be prepared to take.
On March 31st, 1492, the Alhambra Decree demanded that all Jews in Spain convert or flee the country. If they refused, they were executed. Non-Jews who helped them had their property seized. This expulsion began yet another forced migration of Jews. 1492 also began the 525 year-old settler-colonial project in the Americas, a project that has used genocide, terror, and impoverishment as primary weapons. 462 years ago, in 1555, John Hawkins began the Triangular slave trade, seizing Africans and bringing them in boats to the Americas, beginning over 400 years of formal slavery, followed by the still-legal slavery in US prisons. 170 years ago US armies began to conclude their conquest of half of Mexico – ranging from California and Wyoming to Texas. The war was fought in order to expand the number of states that permitted slavery.
Today, I.C.E. tears families apart. They tear apart the families of those who have recently arrived, and those whose family residence in the area, such as Xican@s (Chicana/o, Mexican-American), far outstrips that of the officers violently and degradingly removing them. I.C.E. expels people who overstay legal visas, and tears families apart by sending members to a country they’ve never lived in, as is the case with the Minnesota 8 Cambodian-Americans. Of those 8, 4 were deported this week, torn from their families, to be ‘returned’ to a country in which they have never lived. I.C.E. has imposed terror on immigrant communities, many of whom are denying themselves access to government programs they need to survive, out of fear that even properly participating will render them vulnerable to I.C.E. violence. The Department of Homeland Security has created an increasingly militarized border through which even visa-holders find it difficult to pass, if they don’t ‘look’ right to racist and Islamophobic agents.
March 31st, is also Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated since 2009. Let’s be clear about this: Transgender people experience frequent, constant, and intense violence and daily attempts at humiliation. 27 murders of Transgender people were reported in 2016, making it the most dangerous year on record. There is a Transgender Day of Remembrance for those victims, and we must support, honor, and defend our transgender family, organizers, and activists. But the Transgender Day of Visibility is a celebration of Transgender lives and identities, which is also vital: we have heroes, role models, and histories to admire, and to from which to learn. Today’s Transgender Day of Visibility is a defensive blow against all who insist that trans people must hide who they are, or conform to arbitrary and changing norms. It is a celebration, not a mourning.
We need such celebrations. That’s a big reason why we are gathering on Friday at 5:30 PM at Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota campus. We need to see each other, to meet and celebrate each other, and to pledge our mutual support and defense for each other. Our enemies are cooperating. Shouldn’t we?
We live with the legacies of colonialism, sexism, racism, capitalism, and generalized hatred. But those are not our only legacies. We inherit all of history, not just the good, or just the bad parts. When the Alhambra Decree of 1492 was announced in Spain, Jews helped each other, and non-Jews helped hide their Jewish neighbors, or helped them seek safe passage to other lands. When the colonialism and genocidal violence of American settlers confronted the Indigenous Peoples here, they found ways to resist and survive their attackers, and continue to do so, as we see from the heroes at Standing Rock. When the slave trade in African men and women began, there was resistance both in Africa and in the Americas: Nat Turner’s slave revolt, the Underground Railroad, the raid on Harper’s Ferry are just a few examples. The Stonewall Riots, led by transwomen, launched the modern Queer Rights movement. When Mexican land was stolen from people living on it by the U.S.A. through warfare, their resiliency and organizing helped them survive and thrive, even under continued racism and threat. The Occupation of the Fourth Precinct, and the demand to hold police murderers accountable are local and recent forms of resistance, as are those organizing to prevent deportations.
Our history is not only filled with blood and fire, but also with love and affirmation. The blood is ours, and the fire is used against us, and so we must defend ourselves and each other with love and affirmation. After more than 500 years of oppression, it’s obvious the oppressors won’t stop on their own. We must stop it together. Our love and solidarity for each other is the strongest weapon we have. It must be built up in practice, by meeting each other, teaching and learning from each other, and most important, struggling side-by-side with and defending each other. Resistance is our legacy and our duty. Solidarity is our weapon. We must use it.