On Saturday, February 6, 2016, a measly 15 self-proclaimed “patriots” from Americans First, a quasi-fascist group, held an “End Sharia Law in the US” rally. This is the latest in a string of rallies that Americans First have held in Central PA. In January, they held a rally outside of Church World Services, a refugee resettlement organization. In response, over 250 people in Lancaster came out to let Americans First know that hate will not be tolerated in their town.
In Reading, about 100 antifascists and others came out to deliver the same message. Despite having a slightly smaller crowd than in Lancaster, the Reading event was much more militant. The group took up a position immediately in front of the “patriots” and effectively shut down the entire event, chanting “Say it Loud, Say it Clear, Refugees are welcome here” and shouting down any attempts the fascists made to spout their bigoted views. Shortly after the event started the antifascists were joined by Make The Road, a Latino rights organization, who marched in to the sound of drums. Make The Road members delivered short speeches, played music, and sang songs for about an hour, making it very clear that they were not afraid of their racist, xenophobic opponents and would continue their social justice mission.
Despite the heated exchange between the fascists and antifascists, only one shoving match broke out, which elicited no response from the local police who were posted up on each end of the block. At one point, one of the “patriots”, a former military member and current Biker, President Dawg, in a bold move, stepped up looking to fight an antifascist who had damaged his fragile ego. Instead of backing down, the antifascists stepped up as a single unit to challenge this fascist thug, and he backed down. Antifa shut down the fascist Americans First, the second time they have been shut down in as many months. The fight is not over!
Nobody is Illegal!
Fascists and Racists Out!
Take Away From Reading, PA:
The rally in Reading, much like the rally in Lancaster, drew a lot of support in favor of refugees and in support of the Muslim population. However, Reading was much more militant than Lancaster was. This was due to the organizing efforts of antifascists that promoted militant tactics instead of leaving planning in the hands of the progressive church leaders as was done in Lancaster. It’s essential to squash any potential fascist organizing when it is small, before it grows in size and confidence to carry out physical assaults on their victims. Organizing antifascist resistance is extremely important!
There was little opportunity to reach out to the surrounding area. The location chosen by the fascists was in an area that received little foot traffic and was shielded from most car traffic. Greater outreach allows the spread of antifascist ideas and is able to combat the narrative pushed by these hate groups.
Additionally, we have begun an informal relationship with the members of the other organizations that joined us and will continue to build on those through participation with their events and campaigns.