Queer Anarchists Counterprotest Right-Wing Hate Rally in Ft. Lauderdale

Dozens of queer anarchists in Ft. Lauderdale counterprotested a fascist-adjacent rally against the existence of queer children, organized by fascist groups “Gays Aga1nst Gr00mers”, “M0ms For L1berty”, and “Flor1da Fathers For Freed0m”. Despite several provocations by fascist rallygoers, the counterprotest was not attacked and successfully held out for longer than its opposition, whose primary attendees were Proud Boys from outside the area.

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Anarchists Vandalize GOP Headquarters in Seminole County

Anarchists vandalized the Seminole County headquarters of the Republican Party, condemning their attacks against the existence of minorities like undocumented immigrants and queer peoples in the United $tates, as well as the continued imperialization of indigenous peoples and oppressed territories across the world, like Boriken (“Puerto Rico”) and Guam.

Florida: A Safe Haven For Nazis No One Talks About

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The last weekend of January 2022 saw a flare up of far-right groups demonstrate their hatred in various cities across Florida. No, these were not your typical right-wing idealists who wish for a conservative government. No they were not your average Trump supporters who chant ‘Build the Wall’ out of ignorance. No they were not childish republicans pushing to erase abortion laws. They were Nazis. Violent, swastika waving, Hitler-supporting Nazis. And Florida is a safe haven for them that no one talks about.

Hold on. You might be thinking what? Nazis? Florida? In 2022? Yes. Yes. And yes. There is a common misconception that Nazism died out after the Soviet Union defeated Hitlers regime in 1945. People always hear about “neo-Nazis” in small towns across the United States. Our main stream media pundits paint them as a fringe part of society that no one should care about. But in reality, that is not the case.

Nazism has been apart of the USA since before Soviet General Konstantinovich Zhukov took Berlin in 1945, before the Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944, and before the Battle of London in 1940. The first major horror show of Nazism in the United States was on February 20th 1939, seven months before Adolf Hitler and his forces invaded Poland and sparked World War II. Madison Square Garden hosted over 20,000 people on the night of February 20th, an event that was called a “Pro-American Rally”. It was sponsored by the German American Bund, an organization based in Manhattan that was pro Hitler since the early 1930s. As Hitler came to power in Germany, ‘The Bund’ filtered Nazism across hundreds of cities in the United States, with summer youth groups, bookstores, parades, and radio shows spreading their atrocious message of fascism and white supremacy.

(Larry Froeber/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

The “Pro-American Rally” was filled with white Americans wearing identical Nazi uniforms, swastika armbands, and waving around posters that said “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian America.” The speeches were littered with anti-Semitic rhetoric as the main speaker, national public relations director of ‘The Bund’ Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, lauded about white supremacy being at the foundational core of America.

(A German-American Bund color guard marches through Madison Square Garden, Feb. 20, 1939. | AP)

Where were the police? How did the city of Manhattan allow this to happen? The 20,000 Nazis in attendance were well guarded by the NYPD. Madison Square Garden was turned into a fortress to protect the individuals inside while the mayor at the time, Fiorello LaGuardia, argued that “If we are for free speech, we have to be for free speech for everybody, and that includes Nazis.”

(A color guard holding American flags and a banner inscribed with the Nazi swastika stands before an immense portrait of George Washington at the German American Bund’s rally at Madison Square Garden.)

But while the Nazis were allowed to exercise their “free speech”, a lone hero managed to get inside the rally, squeeze pass the storm troopers, and expressed his thoughts. His name was Isadore Greenbaum, a 26-year-old Jewish man from Brooklyn. After listening to the three hour rally and building up the courage to speak out against 20,000 Nazis surrounding him, Greenbaum rushed the stage and denounced them all.

(Isadore Greenbaum with his family in 1943. Courtesy of Brett Siciliano)

He yelled out “Down with Hitler” before being swarmed by dozens of Nazi men and women. The crowd roared in delight as the Nazis kicked him to the ground, punched and bruised his body, and tore his pants off. He was later escorted out by the NYPD for his safety but then was arrested and fined. The state of New York made it clear that Nazis were able to exercise their “free speech” but protesters against fascism were not.

(Isadore Greenbaum is carried off the stage by police after being punched and kicked by members of the German American Bund.)

But this was in 1939, when the Americans entered the war Nazism was discredited around the country and died out right? Right? No. When the Soviets turned the tide of the war at the Battle of Stalingrad and depleted Hitler’s forces to the point of no return, the thought of ending Nazism was on everyone’s mind. Sure, the Americans and the allies forced their way to Germany’s capital on the western front, while the Soviet Union destroyed what was left of the Nazis’ forces in the east. Sure, the Battle of Berlin ended with Hitler taking his own life. That must have been the end of it. But sadly it wasn’t. The Allies saw an opportunity to revive Nazism back in America. This time they weren’t just white supremacists holding rallies in New York, they were working with the U.S. military. They were given federal positions. They were embedded into NATO like Adolf Heusinger, who became the chairman of NATO from 1961 to 1964 after serving as the operations chief of Nazi Germany’s High Command. Nazism did not die in a bunker in Berlin, it seeped its way into political power in the United States.

(Adolf Heusinger, 1960)

The Nazi revival in America saw its rise from the ashes of “defeat “ with the forging of the American Nazi Party. Founded by George Lincoln Rockwell and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the American Nazi Party, ANP for short, paid homage to Hitler’s ideology and fascist aesthetic of the 1930s and 40s.

(George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. NA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

With the red flag, white circle, and black swastika being on the forefront of the party’s image, Nazis were regaining traction in America once more. Between 1965 and 1967, founder George Rockwell was Interviewed by Playboy Magazine, allowing him to spread the abominable ideology of Nazism.

( Rockwell, pipe in hand, leads a group of his supporters in 1967. Photograph: Archives/REX/Shutterstock)

He continued to spread his message until his assassination on August 25th 1967. His death sparked splits within ANP, causing factions to slither away from Arlington, Virginia, and into other cities and states. One of these states was Florida.

(Rockwell carries placards as he picketed a building in Dallas Jan. 29, 1966, to test a city law against picketing by groups such as his. Rockwell was not arrested. Fred Kaufman/AP)

In the decades following, hate groups continued to grow such as the American Nazi Party, came American Front, Atomwaffen Division, Imperial Klans of America, The Order, Soldiers of Aryan Culture, Volksfront, and White Aryan resistance to name a few. Some of these groups grew and fell, others still active today, with members jumping back and forth between which white supremacist group better suited their Nazi admiration. The Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked these groups for decades, seeing a rise in Nazism across the United States accelerating at a rapid pace since the early 2000s. The concentration of these groups are mostly on the east coast, with 838 known groups nation wide, a significant minority of them being in Florida. From 2000 to 2011, the number of known hate groups in the United States grew from 599 to 1,018.

( photos from Southern Poverty Law Center )

Since the year 2000, the natural habitat for Nazis became the state of Florida. 68 groups aligning with, or are blatantly categorized as Nazis, are currently operating in Florida, 38 of where still active before 2000. (This number should be contested because it is unsure how many of these groups have splintered off and created factions amongst themselves.) With the largest number of “hate groups” in the East Coast, Florida has become a safe haven for Nazi supporters, propaganda, and members. The most recent event was on the last weekend of January 2022. Between the days of January 29th — January 31st, Nazis were seen across numerous neighborhoods, highways, and shopping centers in Central Florida.

Aside from standing on street corners and bridges waving their flags and proudly sporting Nazi armbands, these white supremacists were engaging in recruitment as well. A large banner for the National Socialist Movement, a Nazi organization dedicated to the implementation of a white, Aryan government that eradicates Jews, gays, and every non white American citizen, was seen in Waterford Lakes promoting their fascist hope for a White Christian America. The groups website is littered with racial slurs, anti-Semitic rhetoric, and swastikas; a clear visual of what the group represents, Nazism.

(Members of the National Socialist Movement holding a banner outside of Waterford Lakes shopping plaza in Orlando, Florida, January 30th, 2022)

During the rally in Waterford Lakes, these Nazis expressed their views not only with words, but with physical action as well. Multiple people were assaulted for expressing their disgust towards the Nazi propaganda being displayed in their neighborhoods. One individual was attacked in their car by a few Nazis, while a Jewish man was pepper sprayed by another Nazi attendant. There has been word that the authorities have been “investigating” the attacks, but no arrests have been made yet. And none probably will be made.

The state of Florida has always flirted with fascism. Whether it be with neo-liberal Democrats enforcing policies that effect minimum wage workers or Republicans dancing to the rhythm of mixing church and state, Florida was always the soil where Nazis would breed. After the election of Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019, the Nazi population within the state of Florida was more embolden to preach their message of hate towards the non-white and LGBT population. With the governor’s increased rhetoric in opposition to immigration, “leftists taking over education”, and the Republican state government restricting gay rights and instituting anti-protests laws that target Black Lives Matter, Nazis have found a new political beacon to follow.

Most of these groups in Florida have one common goal: a race war that will usher in a new era of white dominance over America. As if the United States wasn’t already controlled mostly by white Americans, Nazis wish to formulate this “Aryan nation” by the use of force. One of these groups, the Atomwaffen Division founded by Brandon Russel, is based in Texas with chapters growing and spreading in Florida. The Atomwaffen Division, Atomwaffen meaning “nuclear weapons” in German, has been linked to 5 killings in Florida, California, and Virginia. They have also been linked to a double murder in Tampa.

These Nazis are not just local backwood losers seeking attention from internet racists. The misconception that they are not well organized, well funded, and well armed is a myth told to the American public to squash any fear or suspicion that the United States has a serious Nazi problem. Most members of Nazi groups, especially in Florida, have prior military training. In February of 2020, defense officials told a House subcommittee that having prior affiliations with Nazi groups would not get someone tossed out of the military. Robert Grabosky, deputy director of Law Enforcement at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations has said that “membership in a white nationalist group is not prohibited” meaning that the U.S. military will allow Nazis to enlist and serve in the armed forces.

Just last year, former Nazi Chuck Leek spoke out against the alarming amount of Nazis in the U.S. military. “I didn’t become an active, actual white supremacist until after I had joined the Navy,” Leek said. He is a former airman first class in the U.S. Navy. In a 2017 poll, more than a third of troops have said they have encountered white supremacists amongst their ranks. “I spent a long time grooming and recruiting people” Leek said. “I absolutely know that the rank and file in the military understand the depth of the problem.” And the problem cultivated, molded, and brought up within the U.S. military eventually makes its way into neighborhoods, community centers, public schools, and universities.

Most of these Nazis who already enlisted into the military with prior affiliations to white supremacists groups end up leaving the U.S. armed forces to rejoin their Nazi groups as paramilitary trainers. With their experience handling weapons and explosives, these ex-military individuals become key components in taking a Nazi group from online posers to armed and trained militias. With Governor Ron DeSantis inquiring to the state legislature about re-commissioning Florida’s Civilian Guard that he would solely have control over, the call for these U.S. military trained Nazis has been a dog whistle for more of them to seek refuge in Florida.

Nazism in the United States and Florida is not a new phenomenon that most media outlets consider a symptom of Trumps presidency. Nazis have always had a presence in America. With the core values of white people being the “master race”, Nazism is in accordance with the pillars this country was founded on. From Florida to California, to South Dakota to New York, Nazism can be seen in every state across the U.S. Apart from its domestic presence, the United States has repeatedly funded Nazi battalions in Ukraine, showing that fascism is a global machine with resources from major super powers. Nazis are not a fringe part of society that lurk in the shadows and only make appearances in small numbers. Nazis are as much as a threat now, just as they were when Hitler made his first speech to the masses in 1933. With the growing era of technology, it is much easier now for these white supremacists to acquire followers by the thousands and create well armed, well funded militias across the country. With Florida capitalizing off being the number one openly fascist state in America, it’s open arm policy towards white supremacy has made it a safe haven for Nazis. The time to fight against fascism is now, not tomorrow.

(Vintage WWII poster design by dru1138)

Written by @historyofarmani on Twitter

Florida resists bout of Nazi rallies in Orlando area

Antifascists resisted the presence of the National Socialist Movement in 2 separate instances in the Orlando area, counter-protesting both and redecorating the sites in which they occurred. 

On the 29th of January, 15-20 Nazis representing the National Socialist Movement held a rally at Waterford Lakes Town Center, among them Burt Colucci and Eddie McBride. The crowd of fascists assaulted bystanders and accosted people recording, waving Nazi flags, and waving banners advertising the NSM.

25 local antifascists then promptly arrived at the scene, pelting the fascist gathering with eggs and stones, forcing them to disperse. Following the dispersion of the NSM rallygoers, locals saw fit to redecorate the site with antifascist stickers and tags, per a reportback from the Miami Revolutionary Abolitionist Front.

The same group of fascists re-emerged on the 30th at the I4 highway, also in Orlando, putting up a swastika flag and 2 banners saying “Vax the Jews” and “Let’s Go Branon”, an erroneously misspelled right-wing slogan.

Local anarchists and antifascists arrived on the scene again but were unable to shut down the far-right demonstration due to a massive police presence to protect the NSM rally.