Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday promoted an anti-fascist group’s campaign to raise money for activists who were jailed during a counterprotest earlier in the day.
The New York Democrat, who identifies as a democratic socialist, tweeted a link to a crowdfunding page set up by Solidarity Against Hate, whose members were among the hundreds of left-wing activists who turned out to oppose a “straight pride parade” in Boston. According to various news reports, many of the counterprotesters identified as members of antifa.
“One way to support the local LGBTQ community impacted by Boston’s white supremacist parade?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Contribute to the Bail Fund for the activists who put themselves on the line protecting the Boston community.”
Bolstered by Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressely, a fellow member of the “Squad” of left-wing first-term Democrats, the campaign has so far raised nearly $25,000.
Who’s afraid of straight pride?
The much-hyped straight pride parade ― a pro-Trump event claiming to champion the “oppressed majority” of heterosexuals, as organizer Mark Sahady put it ― attracted a few hundred participants. They marched under the motto, “It’s great to be straight,” and chanted slogans like, “Straight lives matter.”
Meanwhile, more than a thousand left-wing and LGBT counterprotesters were on hand to resist, shouting “Nazi scum!” and “Boston doesn’t want you!”
USA Today reported that “many” of the activists “identified with the antifa-fascist group antifa.” The Boston Herald described the counterprotest as “peppered with far left groups like Antifa.”
One antifa member told the Herald: “We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted.”
Boston police, reinforced by officers from neighboring cities, were out in force in riot gear. They reported that 36 people were arrested on charges including batters of officers and assault using a dangerous weapon. Four officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the event, police said.
On Monday, Solidarity Against Hate-Boston, the local branch of the group behind the fundraiser, declared victory in a Facebook post. The group claimed that the counterprotest had defeated “a blatant attempt to promote a comprehensive fascist genocidal agenda that targets queer and trans people as well as cis/straight people who are not white.”
“We will not allow fascists to spread their propaganda in our public square,” the post said. “We will not allow fascists to build movements and build power in our public square.”
The group went on to broadly condemn the American justice system, saying “this country’s law and law enforcement systems were designed to protect the entrenched interests of white supremacist patriarchy.”
“Police attacked us with fists, bikes, and batons. Police attacked us with pepper spray,” the group continued. “As medics stepped up to flush our eyes out with water, police pepper sprayed the people supporting the medics. These and other vicious behaviors against us on one day go hand in hand with how police departments across the country criminalize and attack communities of color every day.”
According to the post, more than 30 of those arrested were the group’s “comrades.”
Ocasio-Cortez and antifa
Meanwhile, conservatives criticized Ocasio-Cortez for supporting the crowdfunding effort, with some accusing her of giving cover to antifa.
Ocasio-Cortez has not expressed support for antifa, but nor has she denounced the group, even when pressed. She has often used similar rhetoric to members of the loose-knit network, who justify the use of violence as self-defense against an allegedly rising tide of fascism.
The congresswoman has said that the United States is undoubtedly “headed to fascism,”and warned that white supremacy is resurgent under President Donald Trump. She has repeatedly called U.S. migrant detention centers “concentration camps.
At the same time, Ocasio-Cortez has expressed sympathy for revolutionary violence and condemned immigration law enforcement agencies as irredeemably corrupt. She has repeatedly called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished and suggested doing away with the Department of Homeland Security entirely.
And it’s not just her. Many on the right have long complained that liberal politicians, journalists and activists dangerously exaggerate the threat of right-wing extremism while ignoring, or even apologizing for, antifa and its ilk.
Last month, a left-wing media network leaked an FBI report that showed the agency sees “black identity extremists” as a bigger threat than white supremacists.
*see full story by Pluralist