The armed far right and far left agree on tactics of intolerance
By Nate Thayer
August 18, 2017
“Let’s put the RED back in redneck,” is the slogan of Redneck Revolt, a rapidly expanding nationwide network of gun-toting leftists who confront White Nationalists at public demonstrations.
“The Left is getting armed again and I am honored to be a part of that,” said Mitchell Lewis of the Silver Valley chapter of Redneck Revolt in Davidson County, North Carolina who was in Charlottesville, Virginia carrying an AR-15 rifle against White Nationalist protestors.
At least five chapters of Redneck Revolt, heavily armed with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and other weapons, were at the “Unite the Right” demonstration last weekend in Charlottesville.
Bloody confrontations between armed elements of both the White Nationalist movement and violent counter protestors from the left have have been common in recent years, but in recent months a smaller contingent from both sides have emerged coming prepared with guns to face each other off with their fingers on the trigger.
Until recently, the anti White Nationalist counter demonstrators have been represented by a loosely organized national network of extremist, left-wing, anti-racist activists known as ‘antifa’–short for anti fascists—who travel the country, usually dressed in all black wearing steel toed boots, ski masks, helmets, and covering their faces with bandanas, prepared to confront White Nationalists with sticks, chemical agents, bags of urine, feces, other projectiles, and fists.
But since Redneck Revolt formed in July of 2016, the stakes have been ratcheted up. Redneck Revolt are mainly about carrying firearms to counter White Nationalists and neo-Nazi groups at public demonstrations, and many of the latter are also legally armed with guns.
Billing themselves as white working class rural Americans who are trained and equipped with tactical weapons, Redneck Revolt have grown to at least 33 local chapters in 20 U.S. states since they were formed one year ago in July 2016.
According to Mitchell Lewis of the Silver Valley North Carolina Redneck Revolt chapter, the organization is an above ground militant organization that “focuses on armed community defense to defend ourselves against right-wing reactionary violence.” Very few members use their real names or allow themselves to be publicly identified.
Redneck Revolt and their affiliates, like the Arizona based John Brown Gun Club, have seen a spike in armed members showing up to counter White Nationalist gatherings across the nation this spring and summer. In April, the John Brown Gun Club held an armed counter demonstration to a Donald Trump appearance in Phoenix. On May 6, 2017, the Redneck Revolt held a counter demonstration to a Ku Klux Klan event in Asheboro, North Carolina. In recent months, their activists have been present at confrontations with White Nationalists, neo-Nazi’s, and groups like the Ku Klux Klan in Sacramento and Berkeley California, Portland, Oregon, and Pikesville, Kentucky.
With White Nationalists displaying swastikas and chanting Nazi slogans and their counterparts displaying anti-capitalist signage such as the hammer and sickle and anarchist symbols and using the rhetoric of the radical left, the scenes are a replay of the 1930’s Weimar Republic brown-shirt-vs.-communist violence complete with the same uniforms and flags being flown.
Just as then, national leaders condemn the evil of white supremacy or the lawless thuggery of hard-left Marxism disguising their tacit sympathy for one side or the other, to little effect.
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it,” Trump said last Tuesday.
Trump’s comment spoke to the dirty little secret known to all law enforcement and those that follow the advent of White Nationalism since he was elected president: if the two sides are allowed to physically confront each other, violence is guaranteed.
”The armed left held streets in an American city once again,” wrote one Redneck Revolt organizer who was in Charlottesville during the bloody demonstration last Saturday. “For eight hours we held off Nazis and kept cops out of the park while BLM (Black Lives Matter), queer activists, anarchists of color, antifa (anti fascist) contingents, and IWW (International Worker’s of the World) columns all staged successful actions to fuck shit up and put blood in the mouths of white supremacists. This is historical.”
At least five Redneck Revolt chapters were in Charlottesville “working closely with (another armed leftist group) the SRA (the Socialist Rifle Association), BLM, and local organizers to develop plans to protect the local community,” said Lewis of Davidson County, North Carolina.
These included the Carolina Mountain, Silver Valley, and Shelby Redneck Revolt chapters, all of North Carolina, and the affiliated Socialist Rifle Association.
“(The White Nationalists) were coming and trying to enter or intimidate the park,” said Terry. “And we buffed them out of the area pretty effectively throughout the day. (They) were looking to start fights, trash the park, yelling racial slurs at people and all kinds of stuff.”
“If it hadn’t been for the anti-fascists protecting us from the neo-fascists, we would have been crushed like cockroaches,” said Cornell West, a prominent radical black activist and professor at Harvard University.
But White Nationalists told another story.
“I saw one guy drop his pants, shit in his hand, and then he threw it at us,” said Richard Preston, the Imperial Wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Preston was in Charlottesville along with members of at least three other KKK groups, but came dressed without Klan regalia and in military fatigues as part of the Kentucky chapter of the “Real 3% Rising” militia group he is affiliated with. “We were attacked by urine and feces and other chemicals and bats. I still have chemical burns on my hands.”
“Preston’s group was openly carrying weapons. “I had my AR-15 and a 9 mm. One of my guys had a .45 and another a 9mm.”
Preston, like demonstrators from both sides, was critical of the police. “They set us up. They wanted a fight. They tried to force us out of the park and directly into the groups of antifa’s. Of course there was going to be violence. We had to defend ourselves,” he said. “I won’t lie to you, brother. I was nervous.”
But Preston had no sympathy for the White Nationalist who drove his car through a crowd of counter demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19. “That guy that hit those people with his car is disgusting. He is like that stupid little parasite Dylan Roof,” referring to the shooter who killed 9 black church parishioners in South Carolina in 2015. “Those people weren’t blocking the road. They were walking. The Klan are soldiers of Christ. You fight fairly. You don’t run people over with a vehicle.”
Other White Nationalists in Charlottesville were not so forgiving. “We made history on Saturday. I am glad that woman is dead. She was a communist feminist. It was like the first shot fired at Ft. Sumter. They got exactly what was coming to them. We aren’t going to let some niggers and Jews keep us from using our first amendment rights to free speech,” said Ken Parker, a White Nationalist activist from Jacksonville, Florida. “I got hit with caustic acid, CX gas, pepper spray, soda cans with fermented urine. We would have killed every one of those motherfuckers if the cops weren’t there.”
Hundreds of demonstrators from both sides were armed with guns in Charlottesville, both sides agree.
And both sides agree that their primary enemy is the U.S. system of government.
“We are doing this because we care about the people of Pike County. We care about the people of Appalachia,” said ‘Commander’ Jeff Schoep, the head of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) referring to an earlier demonstration in Kentucky that took place in April. “We have seen factories shut down We have seen families getting desperate reaching out for drugs and other things they shouldn’t be doing. We want to give people hope again.”
The political platform of the Nazi leader sounds very much like his counterparts from Redneck Revolt.
In 1921, the term ‘Redneck’ became associated with armed insurrection against the government when the United Mine Workers of America tied red bandanas around their necks during the Battle of Blair Mountain, a two-week long armed labor uprising in the coalfields of West Virginia.
“To us, the term redneck is a term that signifies a pride in our class as well as a pride in resistance to bosses, politicians, and all those that protect domination and tyranny,” writes the Redneck Revolt in their statement of principles. “Redneck Revolt hopes to incite a movement amongst working people that works toward the total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexuality, gender, nationality, or any other division that bosses and politicians have used to fragment movements for social, political, and economic freedom.”
Redneck Revolt comprise largely anarchists, libertarians, and Marxist members focused on anti-racist organizing among the white working class.
Its origins include inspiration from the Young Patriots, white Appalachian activists who allied with the Black Panthers in the late 1960s.
The term redneck came to popular usage in the 1890’s referring to “poorer inhabitants of the rural districts…men who work in the field”. Today, the term redneck is both pejorative and used proudly by working class and poor rural white Americans, often used derogatorily along with “white trash” and “hillbilly”.
“We stand against capitalism” and “We believe in the need for revolution” are two of the founding principles of Redneck Revolt.
The Origins of Redneck Revolt
Redneck Revolt emerged from anarchist and left radicals who formed Kansas Mutual Aid in 2002, “an anarchist collective active in Northeast Kansas,” organizing initiatives included “firearms and self-defense trainings,” said the founder of both organizations Dave Strano said in a recent interview.
Kansas Mutual Aid was mostly composed of “working class anarchists” from “ex-punk and ex-middle class backgrounds.” Kansas Mutual Aid disbanded in 2009 and the organizers regrouped in Denver, under the Denver Armed Resistance Committee (DARC), a “working group of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross that focuses on firearms and tactical defense,” said Strano. DARC provided free monthly classes, including “multiple live fire exercises.”
DARC was closely affiliated with a Phoenix, Arizona based anarchist and left-wing group called the John Brown Gun Club. “The majority of the folks that made up the John Brown Gun Club working group even went as far as to openly identify as rednecks. Our shared experiences of growing up in poor or working class white communities, in trailer parks and run down apartment buildings, surrounded by redneck culture, made it easy to find commonality,” said Strano.
Where the White Nationalist movement and their leftist opposition diverge is over the question of race.
“It is when the white working class has started to view itself in terms of class and not race, that liberation has waited just around the corner,” reads the manifesto of Redneck Revolt. “White supremacy is a system that white working people have helped protect, but it is also a tool against us all. Allegiance to a politics of white racism has allowed the rich to continue to hold onto power.”
“A response to nearly every single problem we have in our nation–from street crime to anti-White governmental policies, to attacks on our sovereignty and faith–can be answered in one simple phrase “If White people had a country of our own, this wouldn’t be happening,” reads the statement of principle of the National Front, one of the sponsoring groups for the “Unite the Right” Charlottesville protest, which comprise Shoep’s NSM, the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker’s Party run by Matthew Heimbach, and the racist League of the South headed by Michael Hill.
In January 2017, Redneck Revolt held a National Organizing Conference in Phoenix, AZ, and the group saw a sharp uptick in new chapters formed around the country.
“Coordinating mass scale organizing of white working class communities to militantly oppose the spread of racism, sexism, queer antagonism and other forms of fascism against the people we love,” says Redneck Revolt activist Max Neely, of Frederick, Maryland, who was in Charlottesville..
“The organization is an above-ground militant formation that focuses on armed community defense and other community programs that seek to enable communities to defend themselves against right-wing reactionary violence,” said Mitchell Lewis of Redneck Revolt, who was also an organizer of the May “Asheboro Stand Against the Klan” demonstration in Davidson County, North Carolina.
Christopher Barker, the Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the most extremist KKK organizations, praised the killing of the 32 year-old woman in Charlottesville. “I’m sorta glad that them people got hit and I’m glad that girl died,” Barker told North Carolina TV station WBTV. “They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn’t bother me that they got hurt at all.”
“I think we’re going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events,” Barker added.
“Nothing makes us more proud at the KKK than we see white patriots such as James Fields Jr, age 20, taking his car and running over nine communist anti-fascist, killing one nigger-lover named Heather Heyer,” a recorded message in Barker’s voice on their Klan hotline said after the Charlottesville killing. “James Fields hail victory. It’s men like you that have made the great white race strong and will be strong again.”
“I can’t stand the antifa. They have no idea what communism is. They think that everyone who supports Trump is a fascist,” said Andrew Cross, a U.S. navy veteran and sympathizer with the White Nationalist message from California who attended protests in Sacramento and Berkeley California. “There definition of a fascist is so broad it is almost like a Klansmen’s definition of a Jew.”
Cross said “I am not attached to any organization now, but after Charlottesville, I am looking.”