This Saturday, notorious fascist news outlet Red Ice Radio announced that Identity Evropa (IE), a white-supremacist propaganda group, had planned an anti-immigrant demonstration in San Francisco for the following Monday. IE would be protesting San Francisco’s status as a ‘sanctuary city’ with Red Ice live streaming the event, further solidifying the known ties between the two organizations. Word quickly spread, and on Sunday Rad-Left news source Its Going Down dropped an article detailing the event, its organizers, and their distasteful history. Other sources picked up the story, which blew up overnight and was shared online hundreds of times. Antifascists and enraged SF residents alike answered the call, despite the rally only being publicized two days in advance, and despite the yet-to-be-announced location. By the time Monday rolled around, a good many were ready to take to the streets and challenge the group outright- something Identity Evropa apparently wanted to avoid at all costs. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid angry locals, Red Ice Radio tweeted out around noon that the 3 pm Demo would be held at SF State University, when it was in fact to be held half an hour away at the Embarcadero near Pier 14. The pier was chosen symbolically after a ricocheted bullet shot by an undocumented man killed 32-year old Kate Steinle last July. Despite overall data trends that show otherwise, IE and the right wing in general continues to fear-monger over this isolated case and point to it as proof that immigration brings increased crime rates. It doesn’t- Rising crime in San Francisco? Look to factors like economic disparity and rising population and density. Increases in crime due to a wide range of social, economic, and political factors have historically been blamed on black and brown folks and used to scapegoat and criminalize them. We can do better than this tired narrative. We must do better.
In any case, this classic bait-and-switch bought Identity Evropa a few precious moments of uninterrupted rallying. What they hadn’t accounted for was the fact that no one walking by had any interest in listening to what they had to say in the first place. After several minutes of outlining his half-baked ideas and pacing back and forth, Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo became visibly upset at the public’s disinterest. “I can see that a lot of you here today just don’t give a shit” Damigo sneered at the passing crowd through his megaphone. “You just want to live your lives, be left alone.” This is quite possibly the only accurate statement Damigo made throughout his entire tirade, which consisted mostly of anti-immigrant sentiment and support for racial segregation. In fact, the entirety of the rally was little more than Damigo front and center waxing faux-intellectual on the megaphone, obviously enjoying an opportunity to hear himself talk. Behind him stood a sparse group of IE members, not even breaking an even dozen- a far cry from the growing base Damigo often brags about on twitter. Several gripped a vinyl banner reading “No Sanction – Make San Francisco Safe Again”, a slogan mired in prejudice toward immigrants and downright ignorance. (Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are actually less likely to commit violent crimes than US Citizens.) Then, just as soon as it had started, the demo was over. Scarcely 20 minutes had passed before Damigo finished his final ramblings and mustered one last chant from his followers. Hecklers were already starting to line up on the sidelines, and could be heard over the megaphone on the live stream. IE and Red Ice knew it was only a matter of time before even more opposers began to show up from the SF State mix-up to shut them down, so they packed up and high tailed it out of there before even reaching the half-hour mark. “This is going to be the first of many. We aren’t going away, we aren’t going anywhere!” Damigo declared as he and his followers retreated, pausing to trade insults with the gathering opposition. “You can see the love we’re getting here, but we aren’t going anywhere!” Damigo and the rest of IE then proceeded to go away. Sources report that they were spotted downtown and at the SF State campus later that evening flyering, but that they dispersed at the first sign of opposition. Identity Evropa flyers were allegedly found in trash cans on the campus.
Over all, we can safely say that “No Sanction” was a flop. The only true value those sad, sad 21 minutes held is the amusement that they collectively brought us. Well, that and all the hi-res shots we now have of IE member’s faces. Oops. The lack of advertisement beforehand, the small numbers, the fear of confrontation, and the laughable time-frame of IE’s rally (can 8 guys holding a banner even really be called that?) all point to bad organizing compounded by effective pressure from outside opposition. Good job, team! However, the fact remains that Damigo’s talking points are arguments we hear far too often, from far too many people. Damigo and Identity Evropa are not the first to regurgitate these falsehoods, and it pains us to say that they will surely not be the last. Like many on the right, IE only brings up the ‘sanctuary city’ issue as it relates to crime, pointing to city legislation that prohibits local law enforcement and other municipal employees from inquiring about immigration status or making arrests based on said status. IE, along with democrats and republicans, continue to further marginalize immigrants by falsely equating one’s immigration status with criminality as we touched on earlier. This doesn’t even begin to address the myth of a sanctuary city altogether. Local law enforcement working alongside Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE) under the Obama Administration’s “secure communities” policy has arrested and deported a record-breaking 2.5 million people since 2009. Border policy is one of the many factors that ensure white supremacy’s rule of terror in every aspect of social, cultural, and political life. Border policy specifically does this by criminalizing, scrutinizing, and exploiting immigrants, who are often people of color, in order to maintain meaningless national boundaries. This relationship of domination of people of color by those of European descent dates back to the colonial era and continues into the present. The post-colonial subject seeks sanctuary from the everyday ravages of capitalism, and the naked brutality of the state. This state of crisis is the norm in a world ruled by brute force, money, and racial inequality. The rise of civil war and extreme instability in Syria and the following refugee crisis has the international community requesting more sanctuary cities than has ever previously been documented. We look to those in the midst of this crisis fighting against oppressive powers, such as the YPG and YPJ in Rojava, but we must also look to ourselves and fight against anti-immigrant policies and attitudes in our local area. In this era, we can clearly see that the crumbling old world order, divided hierarchically by the fictitious notions of race, class, and national boundaries, is neither sufficient nor excusable. We can no longer afford to entertain these destructive worldviews that eat human lives and livelihoods and separate us rather than uniting us. For the good of all, because we recognize that no one is free until everyone is free, we have no choice but to strive to dismantle the social burdens that are the state, its borders, and the free market capitalism it enforces. For a freer world, without borders. No human being is illegal.