A protest, organized by Community and Labor Against Fascism (CLAF), outnumbered and outlasted a gathering of the Three Percenters, an ultra-right militia group, who assembled at Seattle City Hall on January 5. CLAF organizers, responding to escalating malicious harassment incidents, particularly the December attacks on the Jewish community in New York and vandalism of synagogues in Seattle, put out a call to “oppose the racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic message promoted by the Washington Three Percenters.”
Despite driving cold rain, the rally attracted a diverse group, including union members, feminists, LGBTQ and Jewish activists, people of color and students. “As a unionist, it was good to see a tightly organized, loud picket line with folks from so many different communities that reflected the membership of our counterforce. It showed our resolve and solidarity against bigotry,” said Jared Houston, a grocery worker and a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21.
Marchers sang civil rights songs such as “Solidarity Forever” and “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and chanted, “Three Percenters you can’t hide, we can see your fascist side!” Their picket signs condemned racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, and called for a halt to far-right violence. CLAF members distributed flyers explaining Three Percenters’ ties to white supremacist organizations, including their prominent role in the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville two years ago.
However, the overwhelming presence of police, who escorted and formed a protective barrier around the Three Percenters on January 5, blocked the anti-fascist counter-demonstrators from picketing directly across from the Three Percenters as planned. Police, armed with bicycles and three-foot billy clubs forced the protesters to relocate on the next block. Rally decision-maker Jane Cutter denounced this, saying “Seattle Police were nothing more than a personal protection service for the far-right. The sheer size of the police force was ridiculous overkill, and was intended to intimidate those who turned out to oppose this fascist threat. City leaders ought to be ashamed of themselves.” Organizers vowed to file a complaint with the police.
Concern among labor groups over rising far-right activity was reflected in the endorsers for the Sunday picket, which included Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304; Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488; Kevin Allen, President Coalition of Black Trade Unionists-Puget Sound Chapter*; Juan José Bocanegra, Director All In for Washington*; Dr. Cairo D’Almeida, President American Federation of Government Employees Local 1121*; Denise Krownbell, PROTEC17 member and Co-chair Seattle Silence Breakers*; Gabriel Prawl, President A. Philip Randolph Institute-Seattle* and Co-chair Seattle Million Worker March Movement*. The wide array of other endorsers included ANSWER Coalition; Freedom Socialist Party; Bend the Arc; Jewish Action Seattle; Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Radical Women; Salem AntiFascist Ethos (SAFE); Seattle Revolutionary Socialists; Sex Workers Outreach Project-Seattle; and the Sparkle Brigade. *For identification only.
Courtesy of Community and Labor Against Fascism