The Proud Boys in Berkeley’s City Hall

Ryoga Vee (front, center in Spider-Man outfit) poses for a photo with Bay Area Proud Boys and allies on April 27, 2017

NoCARA recently received an anonymous submission of documents disclosing communications as well as a meeting that took place between Berkeley City Councilman Ben Bartlett, conservative activist Ryoga Vee, and Bay Area Proud Boy Jarod Flores. This news comes at a time when Councilman Bartlett is under fire for abusing his authority on multiple occasions in order to avoid traffic tickets, and the Berkeley City Council and Berkeley police are facing backlash from the community after Berkeley PD doxxed counter protesters opposing a far-right rally in MLK Park on August 5.

While the records we received don’t comprehensively lay out the exact contents of the meeting Bartlett had with Ryoga Vee and Jarod Flores, we believe the timing of their communications and additional comments elsewhere by Vee provide insight and context into what happened and why. A link to the original PDF we received can be found at the bottom of this article after the analysis below.

Ryoga Vee reached out to Ben Bartlett on August 1, 2018 (click to enlarge)

Ryoga Vee takes a selfie with Kyle Chapman in downtown Berkeley, April 2017 (click to enlarge)

Last month on August 1, Ryoga Vee contacted Berkeley City Councilman Ben Bartlett. Vee chose to reach out specifically to the councilman because Bartlett’s comments about “political unrest” in Berkeley proved that he “gets it,” according to emails. What Vee was ultimately asking for was to introduce Bartlett to some of his friends who, like Vee, have been attending protests on the side of what Vee calls “the alleged fascists” for the last year and a half.

The timing of Vee’s August 1 email is significant. The Proud Boys, which Vee has a number of close associations with, had at the time been facing intense scrutiny for their violent actions and the hateful ideas that fuel them. For over a year, they’ve been assaulting people at rallies all over the United States, and the Proud Boys and Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer held their most violent Portland gathering yet on June 30. Shortly after, a false rumor started that the Proud Boys would be meeting at Make Westing in Oakland. The community began to organize a response and it was soon amplified due to anger over the racist murder of Nia Wilson on July 22. Following this, the Southern Poverty Law Center warned that the upcoming Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer rally in Portland on August 4 could be “another Charlottesville,” particularly concerning since the Proud Boys had been one of the groups in the middle of the right wing terror that occurred in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017.

Berkeley Antifa alerted community to local Proud Boy Nathan Ring (click to enlarge)

On July 30, just two days before Vee contacted Bartlett, Berkeley Antifa had alerted locals via Twitter to Nathaniel Francis Ring, a Proud Boy working at UC Berkeley and Oakland’s Studio One Art Center. It appears that Vee was working to create a counter-narrative to service the Proud Boys and alter the white nationalist group’s public perception. This wouldn’t be the first time Vee worked as a sort of PR for the Proud Boys. In December 2017, the Proud Boys described Ryoga as a friend doing a pubic service for his critical comments aimed at anti-fascists. Within two hours of getting Vee’s email, Bartlett responded and offered to meet in his office.

Bay Area Proud Boys describe Ryoga Vee as a friend on Twitter (click to enlarge)

Ryoga Vee’s Instagram post about the meeting with Bartlett. Proud Boy Jarod Flores thanks him in the comments (click to enlarge)

On August 13, Ryoga Vee brought Proud Boy Jarod Flores with him to meet Ben Bartlett in Berkeley at 10:30am. There is no record detailing the entire meeting’s discussions, but follow-up emails from the three participants and outside comments made by Ryoga Vee can confirm some portions of it.

Ryoga Vee shared that he met with Berkeley council members and received advice on how to improve the Proud Boys’ public image in an August 18 livestream. Bartlett’s August 23 email to his chief of staff Olivia Cordis confirms he suggested the Proud Boys renounce racism, change their name, and create a positive mission statement. These issues directly address the intensifying negative perception that the Proud Boys began facing at the time.

Emails also show that doxxing was of particular interest to the Proud Boys. On August 20 Jarod Flores forwarded an email to Bartlett from Nathan Ring, the Proud Boy profiled in a Berkeley Antifa tweet, mentioned above. A later email to Bartlett from Vee included a link here to NoCARA’s website as it related to remarks made during the meeting. It appears that the local Proud Boys are beginning to fear facing some accountability for their actions and are turning to receptive ears within the state for help against anti-fascists.

Jarod Flores forwards Nathan Ring’s email to Ben Bartlett (click to enlarge)

Proud Boy Jarod Flores shared an image of himself on Facebook with British fascist Tommy Robinson super-imposed over it, with the text “#iamTommy” (click to enlarge)

Jarod Flores is a leading member of the Bay Area Proud Boys. He has attended several far-right rallies and events, including the extremely violent Proud Boys gathering in Portland on June 30. Flores is also a member of the band Yeshua and the Hightones, based out of San Jose.

The Proud Boys often point to the people of color in their ranks as some kind of proof that they aren’t racists. This is merely a smokescreen, and anyone that looks deeper into the group can see racism, homophobia, and misogyny are rampant within the organization. Levi Romero, a prominent Proud Boy of color from Southern California, has been recorded in videos using racist language and showing support for Nazis, who he calls his best friends. Romero has made multiple trips to Berkeley to harass the Left and anyone the Proud Boys deem undesirable. On April 27, 2017, Proud Boys leader and founder Gavin McInnes watched on as Romero and other Proud Boys beat on new recruits as part of an initiation process outside of the bar George and Walt’s on College Ave. In 2018, Romero and other Proud Boys were kicked out of a bar in Southern California and Ryoga Vee tweeted support for him, completely disregarding and ignoring Romero’s anti-black racism.


Levi Romero threatens murder and rape (content warning: extreme racist, misogynist, and homophobic language)

Ryoga Vee supports Levi Romero, ignoring Romero’s anti-black racism (click to enlarge)

Ryoga Vee (center) at Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman’s Daly City home in August 2017 behind white nationalists Nick Ryan, Vincent Foxx, and Juan Cadavid (click to enlarge)

Ben Bartlett’s meeting with representatives for the Proud Boys and him providing them with advice with which they could further recruit is yet another example of the fascist creep in Berkeley. Both the Berkeley PD and University PD have consistently protected the alt-right at rallies and other showings. The Berkeley City Council created new policies that have given the police more power and weapons to target anti-fascists, and the police have ridden this wave of empowerment to aid the far-right to dox their opposition. Top authorities such as Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin and Chancellor Carol Christ have publicly advocated for people to stay home and allow the alt-right to organize and gain more power.

On August 10, Twitter suspended accounts belonging to Gavin McInnes, regional Proud Boys groups, and even individual Proud Boys themselves. On September 11, Ryoga Vee posted to Instagram implying he was having a meeting with people at Twitter in San Francisco.

Ryoga Vee’s September 11 Instagram post (click to enlarge)

Along with this heavy-handed repression of autonomous resistance to white supremacy, Berkeley and other Alameda County cities are planning a week-long series of events in November that they’re calling “United Against Hate.” Mayor Arreguin announced these events using images featuring the very movement he and his police force have spent the last year and half repressing, though the far-right has admitted that militant anti-fascism is the only reason we are seeing less public outings from them in Northern California.

Link to full PDF document of public records: https://nocara.blackblogs.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/273/2018/09/Ryoga-Vee.pdf

If you have any information on fascist organizing in Northern California, please contact us at nocara@riseup.net

Tips for Staying Safe While Confronting Fascists in Berkeley on August 5

On August 5, Amber Cummings will hold a “No to Marxism in America” rally in Berkeley. Amber Cummings has been one of the most violent participants in local far-right gatherings. Several factors, including attempted coordination with other events and internal disagreements, have caused Cummings to frequently reschedule the start time of her rally. As of this writing, the rally will be from 12pm-2pm in MLK Civic Center Park in Berkeley.

It was revealed in the lead up to this event that co-organizer Lindsay Grathwohl received $5,000 from Alex Jones with which Grathwohl announced she would buy new equipment for the rally. Moreover, Cummings and Grathwohl were coordinating with Patriot Movement AZ and American Guard, a white supremacist group with ties to murders and other violence.

Though Amber Cummings claims to not want racists attending her event, she clearly seems either unwilling or unable to discern who the racists at her events are. Despite her rhetoric, Cummings still chooses to rally with people like Kevin the “Based Commie,” who advocates for the mass murder of Muslims and idolizes the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 in Norway and performed a Nazi salute in court. Sacramento Proud Boys leader Gabe Silva, who recently called for war in Portland and threatened political opponoents with unprovoked violence, briefly announced he would join Berkeley after the far-right rally in Portland on August 4. Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson also announced he would travel to Berkeley on August 5.

Kevin “Based Commie” with Amber Cummings in San Francisco July 7

Kevin “Based Commie” advocates mass killing of Muslims on Facebook

In anticipation of fascist provocations in Berkeley on August 5, we’ve created flyers to help people identify alt-right agitators that have come to Berkeley in the past and may show up again. Share these online, or print them out and bring them to the counter protest against the fascists so others can stay informed. Another helpful resource to review are these tips for staying safe while protesting the far-right. It is unclear which far-right groups will keep their promise to show up or not. Last year in Berkeley on August 27, Amber Cummings cancelled her rally and far-right goons still showed up to the park. The counter demonstration will go on regardless. Be on alert and watch out for the following people:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

 

Sweep Out the Fascists: A Festival of Resilience
Berkeley, August 5
Meet at 11am at Ohlone Park

Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/667654553588783

Staying Safe & Watching Each Others’ Backs: Security Measures to Keep in Mind When Protesting The Alt Right, Nazis, or Others From The Far Right

What follows is a series of tips and suggestions on keeping yourself and others in our movement safe from the state and fascists. Consider these all to be harm reducing protocols and not full proof measures. We also really would like to stress the importance of never underestimating members of the far right or the power of the state. In Anaheim and Sacramento anti fascists and anti racists have been stabbed by racists. In Seattle an anti fascist was shot by a Trump supporter. Other anti fascists have been harassed and doxxed online, getting their personal information and address published on right wing social media accounts. The state not only fails to charge violent nazis, but they currently and historically throw the weight of the judicial system against movements that stand against white supremacy, patriarchy, fascism, colonialism, homophobia, and transphobia. We have to protect ourselves on two fronts so being smart and looking out for one another is critical.

Look out for each other and keep tabs on one another. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Especially when racists and anti racists are not physically separated, keep tabs on those you don’t know who are near you and whether they’re acting suspicious.

Write the NLG hotline number in permanent ink on your body!
415-285-1011 is the number in the Bay Area. You will not have access to your phone or any of your belongings once you are in custody. If you see anyone arrested, try to get their name and birthday and call them into NLG immediately.

Keep your identity as secure as you can. We recommend that anyone coming to an antifa demo come masked. We recommend this because fascists are known to document folks on our side to identify and target individuals. It is important to note that due to surveillance technology, a simple bandanna covering will not shield you from the state finding out who you are. Therefore if you anticipate being in the position of getting charged with crimes (this includes physically fighting fascists), a whole host of security measures should be taken that include, but are not limited to: covering all of your hair and face, wearing sunglasses, masks, leaving off identifiable colors and accouterments (colored shoelaces, patches, bookbag you wear everyday, etc.) being mindful of cameras and undercovers that may see you unmasked before or after you’re covered. But also please keep in mind that any time you participate in militant action you can and should anticipate repression, be it an arrest during or after -even months later- the demo, door knocks or phone calls from police investigators, court and grand jury supeonas, etc.

Have a plan for arriving and leaving with a friend or two.
Stay diligent in watching for creeping fascists hoping to catch you alone.

Do not post yourself or anyone else at any demo on the internet, especially your own social media account. The sate and/or the alt right can find this info and use it against you or your comrades. Also remember to not brag or talk about anything you did or saw while out. Keep in mind even if you are not committing a crime, if you post yourself online it does put you at the scene which means you could be at risk of getting a subpoena or otherwise get pressured to talk to law enforcement. Which brings us to…

It is never ok to talk to police! For the sake of the health and longevity of our movements, it is politically and ethically important that no one in our movement cooperate with the state. But also, for your personal security it’s also a good idea to keep your mouth shut.
They might ask you questions when you’re in custody.

They might show up at your house or job weeks or months after a demo. They might call you on the phone. Please know that police will use manipulation tricks to get you to talk. (“You didn’t break the law, what do you have to hide?” “We’re just trying to get information on the violent nazis.”) You might think you don’t have any useful information for them, but actually they can piece together seemingly harmless info and use it against you or others. The best answer to cop questioning is to say, “I have nothing to say to you without my attorney.” In the event that you are pressured to talk, it’s very important to tell your comrades or otherwise publicize the full content of the questioning and your answers. Ultimately, we have to trust each other in order to function together, so transparency is paramount.

In the words of the Bay Area Anti Repression Committee:

TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER:
REMAIN SILENT!

Below are tips and suggestions we’ve borrowed from material put out by the ARC:

  • Do not talk to the police! The only information you are legally required to give them is your name. The police are allowed to lie. If you lie to a cop or a federal agent, it can be a felony, even if you just misspoke. Be safe: do not talk to them.
  • Even if you are not a citizen, everyone in the U.S. has two rights under the 5th Amendment: the right to refuse to talk to any government agent, and the right to a lawyer.
  • When under arrest expect intimidation and harassment by the police. They will lie to you to scare you, to extract information that they can later use to prosecute you and your comrades. The only things you need to say are your name and “I am going to remain silent. I want to talk to a lawyer”
  • They may ask you questions such as: Why were you at today’s demonstration? Who were you with? What were you doing? They may tell you that you are legally required to answer these questions, or that they will retaliate against you if you don’t. Do not answer any questions! Even seemingly harmless facts can be dangerous in the hands of the police.
  • Be mindful that anything said in the arrest vehicle, in the cells or on the phones can be used against you in court.
  • Don’t talk to internal affairs and don’t talk to police review boards. Both can and do share information with the police and district attorney which could be used against you or others.
  • ARC manages a bail fund for folks who do not have the resources to bond themselves out. Check out their bail policy for more info: https://antirepressionbayarea.com/about-2/
  • Be prepared for arrest, even if you don’t plan on getting arrested!
  • If you are on medication, remember to have your prescription and a bottle of the medication on you. Getting medication in to someone in custody is often a very long drawn out process, and this will help get the medication you need faster and easier.
  • If you have children, make sure you have childcare worked out, not just for the day you will be on the streets, but for several days in case of arrest. Note that if you are arrested on a Thursday or
  • Friday your court date will most likely not be until the beginning of the next week.
  • If you have pets, make sure you have a pet sitter.
    Be aware that if you don’t have an ID with you they will often hold you for longer
  • Expect that there will be court a few days after the demonstration if there has been arrests!
  • Check out the ARC court calendar on www.antirepressionbayarea.com and the Antirepression Crew Facebook to find out the dates and locations of court
  • Arrange to do Jail Support, which is greeting and getting people home when they get out of jail!
  • Do you have a car to pick people up from jail?
  • ARC will make announcements about when people are being released from custody on the Jail and Court Support Updates section of the website, and also on the Antirepression Crew Facebook page

Court Support:

Information about court dates, times, and departments are often changing. The ARC tries their best to keep people updated on the most recent information. Before you go to court, check the ARC Facebook or website the night before and morning of.

Jail Support:

The processing time of people being released from jail is usually between 5 and 9 hours (although sometimes can be longer). This means that the ARC cannot tell you when exactly to go pick people up from jail. Expect that you might be waiting there for a long time! The ARC will get a general estimate from the court and/or the bondsman, and that’s the best estimate they can give. The ARC recommends you coordinate with a group so that you have company and so people being released are greeted by friendly faces. Also, people tend to want cigarettes, food, water and coffee when getting out of jail, so bring whatever you got!

More information
nocara.blackblogs.org
antirepressionbayarea.com