Community Self-Defense Mobilizes to Defend Hasta Muerte

“We’re parked down there. Can you drop us off, possibly? I’m terrified.” – Troy Worden

Hasta Muerte

On February 16th, “a sergeant and president of the Latino Police Officers Association of Alameda County,” and a member of the Oakland Police Department, walked into the newly opened Hasta Muerte Coffee shop, a cooperative run by workers of color, and located in the working-class and predominantly Latin@ neighborhood of Fruitvale, which is rapidly undergoing gentrification. Instead of a hot cup of coffee and a handshake however, the sergeant was promptly refused service and told that the store had a policy of not serving law enforcement. Very quickly, news of the interaction spread and in response, Hasta Muerte issued a statement on their Instagram page about a week later

OPDs recent attempts to enlist officers of color and its short term touting of fewer officer involved shootings does not reverse or mend its history of corruption, mismanagement, and scandal, nor a legacy of blatant repression.

The facts are that poc, women, and queer police are complicit in upholding the same law and order that routinely criminalizes and terrorizes black and brown and poor folks, especially youth, trans, and houseless folks.

For these reasons and so many more, we need the support of the actual community to keep this place safe, not police.  

In return, the Oakland Police Association wrote a letter to the space asking to further discuss the matter, and by the 8th of March, the story had blown up in the local news, before spreading into the mainstream and then being picked up in the far-Right press by outlets like Breitbart, Fox NewsThe Daily Caller, and InfoWarsAs could be expected following such reporting, the store was hit by a wave of death threats, online harassment, and negative and untruthful reviews on Yelp. 

But while the simple assertion of autonomy in the face of a police department known over the decades for racism, corruption, murder, brutality, and human trafficking was causing a stir in the media, in the streets, many Oakland residents flocked to support the space. Soon, #HastaMuerteCoffee became a popular hashtag, as people took selfies in front of the store, and lines soon formed outside the door as people rallied to show support. While the police, media, and the far-Right attempted to shame the space, instead they helped mobilize the surrounding community who was empowered by Hasta Muerte taking a brave and firm stance against white supremacy and police brutality. 

But while the situation in the Fruitvale was brewing, on March 3rd, fascists harassed and threatened a leftist bookstore in Berkeley, CA. The right wing group consisted of members of the Proud Boys and a number of local allies in the alt-lite, a far-right constellation that shares many beliefs with the alt-right but stops short of calling for an explicitly white supremacist ethnostate. Participants included Rob Cantrall, Lauren White aka Lauren Order, and Jacob Ku. Soon after Jourdin Davis and Alexandria Davis joined them. Rob Cantrall, wearing his yellow and black Proud Boys shirt, shouted at the volunteers of the bookstore and told them that he would burn the store down. This was captured on video and reported on by local media. Only a day later, a left-wing bookstore in San Diego on a local campus which had been the site of months of alt-right activity, was set on fire in an arson attack

Then, a little over a week later, focus on the part of the far-Right turned towards Hasta Muerte, as OPD was successful in putting a target on the shop’s back. Soon, posts were placed on Facebook from prominent far-Right activists calling for a protest, and plans were made for the fascists to return to the East Bay. 

Then, starting around 10 AM, a small group assembled outside Hasta Muerte on March 18th to support OPD, including Jacob Ku from the March 3rd attack on the Berkeley bookstore. For the second time in as many weeks, members of the Proud Boys and their allies harassed and threatened East Bay communities. This marks the first time the far-right has abandoned the usual Berkeley locations and shifted their activity to Oakland, specifically in the working-class and largely Latin@ Fruitvale neighborhood. This group of trolls arrived waving symbols of nationalism and support for the police and border patrol, and included several familiar faces, such as Troy Worden, Ashton Whitty, Lindsay Grathwohl, Will Johnson, and Jeanne Solnordal. They were backed up by Jeffrey Perrine, Russ Wilcox, and more. Ironically once again, the police came to the defense of the small right wing group, who had mobilized to attack those who refused the authority of the police. 

Since the failed Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017, the far-right has found it increasingly harder to organize in public. In Northern California, we saw an end to the fascist so-called “free speech rallies” that had been the primary organizing form for the right. In order to hold on to their movement’s dwindling momentum, the local broader Right has switched gears and chosen to refocus their attention on immigration and sanctuary cities. The alt-right, which hadn’t attended events in Northern California in months, decided entryism was again worth a try at a Kate Steinle vigil and anti-sanctuary city protest in San Francisco in December 2017, organized by Lindsay Grathwohl. It seemed possible that an agenda centered on immigration could hold the big tent together just a little longer.

This was reflected again on March 18 outside Hasta Muerte, as the diverse far-right participants brought US flags, apparel that said “ICE,” and shouted into their megaphones that they want ICE to come and deport people. According to an East Bay Express reporter Darwin BondGraham that was on the scene, one person screamed, “If Trump isn’t your president, you’re probably an illegal.” An odd thing to say in a country where literally the vast majority of the population hates the President.

The response from the community was swift, and the Right was quickly outnumbered, embarrassed, and frightened. In defense of Hasta Muerte, a large crowd gathered and stood between the right wing agitators and the coffee shop. Jacob Ku pepper sprayed at least one anti-racist activist and used a stun gun during the incident. At this point, the police moved in and separated both sides, with the bootlickers then moving across the street.

In attendance at the right wing demonstration outside Hasta Muerte was:

Troy Worden and Ashton Whitty

Troy Worden (Pittsburg, CA) & Ashton Whitty (Martinez, CA)

Troy Worden and Ashton Whitty are associated with the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) at UC Berkeley. Worden is a current member and former president of the club, and Whitty (a Diablo Valley College student) briefly joined BCR while attending classes at the UC during the spring 2017 semester. Worden and Whitty, as well as their BCR cohorts, are closely affiliated with various individuals and groups in the alt-lite and the alt-right.

Even before he was ousted from his position of BCR president due to having national socialist (nazi) followers and being too extreme, Worden networked and organized with Kyle Chapman and the Proud Boys, Martin Sellner of Generation Identity, and Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa.

Worden’s presence in spaces has led directly to violence against leftist organizers in the past. After Worden crashed an anti-Milo Yiannopoulos meeting at UC Berkeley, fascists arrived and threw a leftist organizer to the ground. NoCARA has previously shared information on BCR and their violent alt-right connections, most notably here and here.

Ashton Whitty has also gone on in recent months to make a name for herself as a YouTube personality, appearing on podcasts with neo-Nazi and Alt-Right organizers such as James Allsup who attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville, and also appearing on InfoWars, where she recently was seen holding a flyer of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front in Austin, Texas. On St. Patrick’s day, Whitty posted a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “It’s Okay to Be Irish,” a reference to the meme, “It’s Okay to Be White,” which originated from the neo-Nazi message board, /pol/ on 4chan.

Jacob Ku

Jacob Ku

Jacob Ku has been attending far-Right rallies and events in Northern California since 2017. Over time, it has appeared that Ku has become increasingly willing to engage in violence. Jacob Ku arrived with Rob Cantrall and Lauren White on March 3 when Cantrall told volunteers at the bookstore that they were going to burn the store down. Ku obviously came prepared for violence at Hasta Muerte. He wore a helmet and was armed with both pepper spray and a stun gun, both of which he used on patrons of the coffee shop.

Lindsay Grathwohl

Lindsay Grathwohl (San Lorenzo, CA)

Lindsay Grathwohl is the daughter of Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Weather Underground. Lindsay Grathwohl has been heavily involved among local MAGA organizers. She maintains close associations with Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, Kyle “Based Stick Man” Chapman, and Will Johnson. In December 2017, Grathwohl organized a Kate Steinle vigil event in San Francisco. This rally temporarily reunited alt-right white supremacists with those in the alt-lite after their difficult splits following the events in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Will Johnson

Will Johnson

Will Johnson (Tracy, CA)

Will Johnson is a far-right livestreamer, organizer, and internet personality. His livestream news show, Unite America First, is based out of Tracy, CA. Johnson is a mainstay at far-Right and pro-Trump rallies, and often travels to events in Sacramento, the Bay Area, and even out of state. Johnson is African-American and is often pointed to by rally organizers as evidence of the far-Right demonstrators ‘not being racist.’ Despite this, Johnson has long been involved in demonstrations that have offered a platform to racist speakers that think he is subhuman and should be sent ‘back to Africa;’ such as neo-Nazi social media star Baked Alaska. Johnson has also actively organized and shared space with other prominent members of the Alt-Right, and even with known white supremacists. Johnson has organized events with Proud Boys, and past attendees of his events include White nationalists like Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa and lone wolf neo-Nazi Chris Locke. On March 25th in Sacramento, Johnson videotaped himself fist bumping a member of the Golden State Skinheads during a pro-Trump rally.

Johnson was also present at the ‘Mother of All Rallies’ or MOAR event in Washington DC last year, and after members of a local chapter of Black Lives Matter were invited to come on the stage in a gesture of free speech, Johnson interrupted them to chant, “USA! USA!,” when the impromptu talk by the BLM group began to anger the MAGA crowd. In response, Jack Posobiec claimed that “Black Lives Matter,” not Johnson, was leading the crowd in a chant of “USA,” and proceeded to claim it was a great moment of unity. This exemplifies Johnson’s usefulness to the wider far-Right, which at times includes open fascists and neo-Nazis: a useful black token that helps them avoid charges of racism, while also advancing their actual racist politics under the cloak of “America First!”

Jeanne Solnordal

Jeanne and Borgar Solnordal

Jeanne Solnordal (Piedmont, CA)

Jeanne Solnordal is a lawyer, and along with her husband Borgar Solnordal is a real estate investor, owning several properties in Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area. Both of the Solnordals are owners of Marsol Management Group. In January 2018, Jeanne Solnordal uploaded a video to YouTube in which she urges homeless people in an Oakland encampment to vote Republican in the 2018 midterm election while also repeating racist nationalist talking points about immigration. Solnordal has been attending right wing events in Northern California since late 2017 and at times has traveled throughout California and other states for political activity. She also has a history of showing up to leftist events to disrupt and harass. The day before Solnordal showed up at Hasta Muerte, she took the time to go on Facebook and share a conspiracy theory originating from the neo-Nazi forum /pol/ on 4chan. Solnordal also wore an ICE hat outside Hasta Muerte and advocated for immigration officials and the police to come into the neighborhood.

Russel

Russel

Russel is a member of the far-Right III% militia and a Proud Boy.

Jeffrey Perrine

Jeffrey Perrine

Jeffrey Perrine (Citrus Heights, CA)

Jeffrey Perrine is a far-right/alt-lite rally goer and livestreamer from Citrus Heights. He is connected to Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, and various far right live streamers and news outlets. He is also friends with known neo-Nazi Chris Locke. Perrine has frequently attended pro-Trump and far right rallies over the past year, but more recently he has begun to show up to leftist and even liberal events to livestream, harass, and disrupt. Jeffrey has been observed yelling in the faces of high schoolers and harassing protesters at the Sacramento Women’s March. He also showed up to a protest against Jeff Sessions with several patriots and Proud Boys, where the group followed demonstrators while shouting anti-immigrant slogans, at one point directing a racial slur at a black protester.

Sacramento Proud Boy and livestreamer Marcos Santos

Sacramento Proud Boy and livestreamer Marcos Santos

Right wing agitator

David Carson

The demonstration by the right was short-lived, and soon they regrouped and headed to the Temescal farmers market with intentions of confronting Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf regarding her recent warning about ICE raids. The second location saw a larger group, with the original bunch from Hasta Muerte being joined by a few Proud Boys as well as Jourdin Davis, Guy Decker, and others in the alt-lite. Like their time at Hasta Muerte, this second action by the right was also a flop. Most of them never got close to Schaaf and they were again confronted and driven out of the space by the local community.

Joined Hasta Muerte group at Temescal farmers market:

Jourdin Davis

Jourdin Davis (Berkeley, CA)

Jourdin Davis is a far-right organizer from California currently living in Berkeley. He has attended events in the area since the March 4, 2017 rally in Berkeley. In December 2017, Davis organized a rally against sanctuary cities, to which he welcomed white supremacist Chris Locke after Chris stated that he would come armed. Davis was also present with Jacob Ku and others when the Berkeley bookstore was threatened. In the past, Davis has admitted to trying to infiltrate local antifa groups and has even lied to his allies that he used to be a “member of antifa.” NoCARA has previously written about Davis here.

Guy Decker

Guy Decker

Guy Decker is a usual attendee at right wing events in Northern California and has even traveled as far as San Diego to take part in far-Right demonstrations. Decker has been known to stalk leftists and film radical events, antagonizing and harassing many along the way. Decker has a long history of violence and has also been arrested for making terrorist threats in the Bay Area while under the influence of methamphetamine. NoCARA previously wrote about Decker here. Recently, Decker has been covering events and news for Ben Bergquam’s Frontline America.

Proud Boy Chad Lanyon

Proud Boy Jonathan Bialog

Patrick James Porcuna

This group of right wing trolls left Oakland terrified. They were clearly unprepared for the community’s fast and strong response to their flash demonstration. This incident provided one example of what autonomous community defense can look like, as well as showing the need to further develop networks ready to respond quickly to fascist and racist provocations in our neighborhoods.

Looking Back: Anti-Fascism in Northern California 2016-2017

Anti-fascist mobilization against fascist convergence in Berkeley on August 27, 2017. Banner reads, “Avenge Charlottesville. Defend your communities.”

As mainstream media coverage of the anti-fascist struggle has skyrocketed over the last year, we’ve noticed that questions surrounding it have largely been confined to concern over a narrowly defined free speech. This has been accompanied by numerous, sometimes deliberate, misrepresentations. While narratives of violence have tended to be over-represented in accounts of anti-fascist and anti-racist organizing, reporting on the alt-right has been the opposite, downplaying the violence inherent to the recently re-energized white nationalist movement. Because clashes in Northern California between anti-fascists and white supremacists have captured so much media attention over the last year, we feel it necessary to place these incidents within their proper context.

Despite the fact that California is widely seen as a bastion of liberalism and tolerance, the state is in fact home to more active hate groups than any other in the country. FBI numbers indicate that reported hate crimes in California increased 11.2% from 2015 to 2016. The East Bay Express noted that Northern California cities consistently rank high on the FBI’s list, with San Leandro and Berkeley seeing a particularly notable spike during 2016. This has prompted UC Berkeley’s student paper, the Daily Californian, to join ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project in recording local incidents in Berkeley. Acts of racist vandalism were reported in the East Bay throughout 2017, and acts of anti-Semitism occurred in Alameda and public schools throughout the greater Bay Area. Similar evidence of growing far-right hatred and violence has been observed throughout the Central Valley. This mirrors patterns observed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which recorded a surge of hate crimes across the United States following the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. According to the SPLC, alt-right killings began in California and 2017 has been the deadliest year yet for far-right violence. One violent neo-Nazi organization, the Atomwaffen Division, has been connected to several murders over the last year, including in California. This group has been shown to have a presence in Northern California specifically. Atomwaffen Division is inspired by James Mason’s book “Siege,” which is distributed by Counter-Currents, a white nationalist publisher based in San Francisco.

Below is a partial account of far-right and white supremacist activity that occurred throughout Northern California from 2016 to 2017. The mainstream media has tended to focus their reporting on more “spectacular” occurrences like clashes at rallies and university speaking events, but as we can see from the list below, the breadth of far-right action is much wider, ranging from flyering and recruitment campaigns to attacks and even brutal murder. When reflecting on these incidents, though this list is by no means complete, it becomes clear that university speaking tours and “free speech” rallies are only the tip of the iceberg. They exist within the larger context of a growing white supremacist movement, and are but a few of the many tactics that these groups employ. Researcher Spencer Sunshine similarly analyzed the far-right mobilization throughout the country in 2017 at Political Research Associates.

Fascist wearing a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat while doing a Nazi salute in Berkeley on April 15, 2017.

2016

February

April

May

  • 3rd: Flyers promoting racial genocide are posted throughout Sacramento’s midtown district. The flyers advocate for the extermination, kidnapping, and torture of Muslim and Mexican residents, and for fellow white supremacists to secure “body dump-sites”. Greg Withrow, a neo-Nazi and KKK member widely credited with founding the white power skinhead movement in the late 70s, is found responsible.
  • 6th: Richard Spencer accompanies Nathan Damigo and a handful of members from his new organization Identity Evropa to UC Berkeley for a “safe space to talk about race.” Afterwards, IE flyers and stickers litter the campus and surrounding downtown Berkeley area.

June

  • 12th: A Sacramento area pastor praises the Pulse nightclub shooting, saying that “the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.”
  • 26th: Matthew Heimbach’s neo-Nazi group the Traditionalist Worker Party organizes an anti-antifa rally with the Golden Stake Skins at the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, which is met by hundreds of anti-racists and anti-fascists. The rally is shut down, and clashes against neo-Nazis end with 6 anti-racists stabbed and 9 hospitalized.
  • 28th: A neo-Nazi threatens to kill children at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley.

July

  • 12th: KKK flyers are distributed throughout the Haight district in San Francisco. 

August

October

  • 17th: Identity Evropa holds a rally at Pier 14 in San Francisco against immigration and sanctuary cities. The rally is cut short when anti-fascists begin to arrive at the scene.
  • 25th: Racist graffiti is found in bathrooms at California High School in San Ramon.

November

2017

January

February

  • 1st: The Berkeley College Republicans invite Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. Anti-fascists mobilize a shutdown, and the event is cancelled.
  • 17th: Swastikas and “Joe Mangele” are spray-painted on a garage door in San Francisco.

March

April

May

June

July

  • 8th: Zionists block the entrance of Reem’s California Bakery in Oakland, part of a broader campaign against the bakery.
  • 8th: Armed members of The Red Elephants along with a group of supporters march through Berkeley with Trump flags to antagonize the community.

August

September

October

November

December:

Despite the growing threat of white supremacy and fascism, anti-racists and anti-fascists have kept up the fight and countered with organizing of their own. Groups patrolled their neighborhoods and campuses to remove hateful stickers, posters, and banner drops, replacing them with anti-fascist messages. Book fairs, community forums, and conferences like ROAR facilitated anti-fascist organizing and brought people together to share research, strategies, and history. Fundraising and benefit events strengthened solidarity and provided material support. Self-defense and bystander intervention trainings coupled with rapid response workshops enabled mass community defense against violent attacks. Research was done on local far-right groups and organizers, as well as those who enable them to recruit and push their politics into the mainstream. Call-in campaigns and boycotts targeted workplaces, bars and venues that supported fascists and their organizing efforts. Exposés on active alt-right organizers and aggressors were published, disrupting their activity and aiding local communities with knowledge of threats in their areas. John Ramondetta, Daniel Quillinan, and Cole White were all exposed to Berkeley residents as white supremacists, leading to Ramondetta moving out of his house and having trouble at work, while White lost his job entirely. Far-right street presence was also persistently confronted. Multitudes of people throughout Northern California showed up to counter rallies, marches, and speeches again and again. Many stepped up to do critical support work, providing dedicated hospital support, street medic care, court support and anti-repression work for those who faced charges or were wounded in the fight against fascism.

None of this activity relied on state sanction or protection. Instead, the most effective community self-defense came in the form of autonomous organizing across tendencies with a respect for differing strategies and tactics. Indeed, the state sees this kind of anti-fascist organizing as even more threatening than that of white supremacists. MuckRock analyzed reports showing that Homeland Security in Northern California has been more concerned with surveilling anti-fascists than neo-Nazis. Moreover, their intelligence takes for granted photoshopped alt-right propaganda and conspiracy theories as fact. Police in both Sacramento and Berkeley have actively aided far-right aggression against local communities. More often than not, the state’s strategy has been to protect white supremacists and increase repression against anti-fascists. Berkeley PD has been given more authority and weapons to contain protests, and Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin expressed that he thinks antifa should be classified as a gang. In Sacramento, police recommended hundreds of charges for anti-fascists after neo-Nazis stabbed protesters at their 2016 rally.

Police equipped with riot gear and body cameras during the June 26th neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento. Officers stood back during the brawl and later attempted to block street medics from treating stabbing victims. Tear gas and tasers were deployed against anti-fascists, while neo-Nazis were provided protection and police escorts. 

This points to the contradiction between how fascist aggressions are handled by the state compared with the anti-fascist response to these aggressions. On one hand, far-right attacks are reported to police, whose statistics and data are referenced in reports of increased trends of white supremacist violence. On the other hand, it is clear that police are more interested in targeting and surveilling anti-fascists, all while they themselves continue to murder hundreds of people in the United States every year while bringing yet more into the ever-increasing racist mass incarceration system. The state’s response to anti-fascist organizing is just one more way in which it upholds white supremacy. If we are to organize against the threat of the alt-right effectively, it will be in spite of state interference, not because of it. This further establishes the need for autonomous community defense and response.

Looking back on the wave of white supremacist terror and violence that characterized 2016 and 2017, it is clear that we as anti-racists and anti-fascists must enter 2018 fighting harder than ever. Fascism may be on the rise, but so are we. The state cannot and will not protect us from this growing white supremacist threat, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that we have the tools we need to continue combating fascism and keep building the support networks necessary to keep each other safe. In the months and years to come, we will turn to each other and face the future with resolve to keep organizing, growing, and disrupting fascism wherever it arises.

Anti-fascist demonstrators at the August 27th mobilization in Berkeley.

Did we miss something? Email us!

Report hate crimes and fascist organizing efforts to us at NoCARA@riseup.net