Confronting the Minutemen motley crew in Seattle on August 18

By an SAIC activist
(CV #40, August 2007)

. Yesterday the national chauvinist, xenophobic, fear-mongering and racist Minutemen/March for America,/John Birch Society grouping conducted their second march this summer in Seattle. This is part of their attempt to build a fascist mass movement on the basis of targeting immigrants as the cause of layoffs and chronic unemployment, government cutbacks in social programs, and even crime. And that this is a dangerous movement is shown by the fact that on the basis of demagogy and lies it was able to rally nearly 100 people to its march yesterday, while it has still wider support in the area. Further, as was shown by yesterday's events, it's protected by the police at every turn.

. Such facts demonstrate that it's going to take protracted political work to isolate and defeat this all-round reactionary movement.

. Yet yesterday's confrontation with the Minutemen shows that working people and the democratic masses have something going on their side too, and that there are good possibilities for further advances. One example of this is that the Seattle Anti-imperialist Committee's leaflet had been favorably received by a significant number of people during the previous nine days. Moreover, around 100 people turned out to oppose the Minutemen. This was a spirited crowd with a mass character, i.e., many people who are not activists with any particular political trend or party who brought original signs and banners, etc. Further, during the march from the Space Needle to downtown it received a lot of support from people on the sidewalks or in cafes.

. Now for a brief summation of what happened:

. At the Seattle Center the Minutemen & Co, which included people with Ron Paul (1) signs and buttons, trickled into their rally often murmuring under their breaths against our signs and leaflets (which we were distributing to people in the area). Sometimes we argued with them and denounced their politics. As they began to get ready to march we started to shout slogans as well as getting in their faces to denounce what they were saying over their bullhorns with our own. At a couple of points this developed into long shouting arguments which we were winning, but the police kept telling us that we couldn't use our bullhorns. This didn't work very well, however, because several people had bullhorns, and all one had to do was move around a little in order to begin again. The only thing that the Minutemen crowd could think to do was chant U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!

. As marching began the cops worked to separate us from the reactionary scum, and to prevent us from being on the same side of the public street. And, as we headed south, they worked overtime to make it difficult for us to keep up with the racists by not allowing us to cross side streets when the lights were green and the street blocked off anyway. (Sometimes we succeeded in going around or through them. ) When we got downtown they forced us to make a long detour, where we met the International Anarchist Conspiracy and friends who were at that point were marching from the east. Shortly thereafter we reached the crowd that had gathered across the street from the Federal Building.

. At the Federal Building the attempt was made to constantly drown out the national chauvinists and racists, but this could only have a partial effect because the street is wide. The IAC had come with an imaginative plan--bomb the Minutemen & Co. with water-balloons while hiding behind shields in order to ward off the police--which they implemented.

. This IAC action was really only a minor harassment of the reactionaries with an element of theater in it. But the police response--viciously plunging into the crowd, really soaking people with pepper spray in the face, etc. --shows what kind of state we live under. So the IAC and anarchism in general are now being scourged on Indymedia for the fact that several people in the crowd were pepper-sprayed or injured by the police. In face of this, I think that it's important to remember that the anarchists tried to hold their position in the street. It was only when the police began to break up their shields and physically shove them backwards (and often off balance) that they were forced into the general crowd.

. But I think that the anti-Minutemen action had a bigger problem than the anarchists being overwhelmed. This is that from the get-go ANSWER had put out a call for a counter protest at the Seattle Center, and this was followed by calls from anarchists to meet at the center, and a call by the SAIC to confront the Minutemen at the Center. But knowing this, the FSP and ISO LATER put out calls to assemble across the street from the Federal Building, thus undermining the effort to surround and denounce the reactionaries at the Center--and perhaps even prevent them from marching. The ISO then reversed itself and actually showed up at the Space Needle, which no doubt caused further confusion. Thus, the FSP and, less so, the ISO abandoned the principle of mobilizing the maximum forces in order to strike the reactionaries with a unified fist. What "higher" principle this principle was abandoned for would be interesting to hear!

. I think that the call for confrontation was correct and was implemented. But we should also work on for the day that we can give calls to smash Minutemen events. (And indeed, such events can be smashed, just like the fascist anti-busing movement was smashed in Seattle in the late 1970s. ) This is going to take protracted political work in which we realize that no matter how truthful our leaflets, explanations and other agitation is, that this alone is not enough. The masses also have to learn through their own experiences. (And, in this regard, people who were in the streets passing out leaflets mobilizing for the 18th many times ran into people who thought that the Minutemen & Co. could only mobilize 6-8 people in this area or that they were not here at all . . . as well as many people who had never heard of the Minutemen. ) August 18 was one good learning experience, and I salute all those who participated.

Forward with the struggle!
Full rights for all immigrants, now!<>


(1) There are numerous anti-war activists who wrongly think that the free-market capitalism-loving, border-fencing, affirmative action-hating, slave-owners' constitution-defending, (imperialist) sovereignty and national security-loving libertarian Republican Ron Paul is "progressive", and should be supported for president.

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September 8, 2007.