The face of Fascism has shown itself in America once again.
While some have protested, others have taken to action with Antifa.
Anti-fascists, known as Antifa, is a militant group of Americans whose purpose is to fight white supremacy and Nazism in the United States. According to the New York Times, they are willing to “stomp out oppressive fascism by any means necessary.”
After two weeks of repeated attempts to get in contact with the group, no Antifa charter in Oklahoma responded for comments.
The events of Charlottesville shed a light on an simmering issue in America. White supremacy did not disappear with the Civil Right’s movement. It never left.
Last month, the United States saw crowds of men and women marching in the streets of Charlottesville. As they waved Confederate and white nationalist flags, each came bearing shields and shouting, “Jews will not replace us.”
The rally was called “Unite the Right.” Originally their reasoning for going to Virginia was to preserve a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee which was scheduled to be torn down in February. As news broke of the march, a counter-protest was formed.
Crowds formed on either sides of the streets shouting at one another. On the counter-protest side stood people dressed in all black masking their faces with bandanas and sunglasses. Signs like “Fighting Fascists Isn’t A Crime” stood alongside flags with the Antifa logo: a red flag overlapping a black flag.
Tensions rose and violence burst onto the scene. Many fled but those willing to stand and fight against the white nationalists were members of Antifa.
David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, told reporters that the rally, “represents a turning point for the people of this country.”
We are determined to take our country back,” he said. “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, and that’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”
“Unite the Right” was considered unlawful and was brought to an end by the police.
A CBS report said that among the arrests, three members of the Antifa movement were arrested.
Amid the chaos, President Donald Trump commented on the events that took place in Charlottesville. 19 people were hospitalized and one was announced dead on the scene.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,” he said. “On many sides.”
Two days later, Trump would appear for a televised speech to place blame on the white nationalists responsible. It wasn’t until 24 hours later that he would attack the counter-protesters.
“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” he said. “You had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was very violent.”
In this Manhattan meeting, President Trump would coin the phrase “alt-left” to represent Antifa members and other protesters.
As Charlottesville grew quieter, the white supremacists vowed to return. In response, Antifa rallies have been held across the country wherever white supremacy rises.
Before Virginia, armed Antifa protesters showed in Austin, Texas to attack Trump supporters and other white groups at various rallies before police were able to break up the violence.
Places in California like Orange County and Sacramento have also become hotbeds for Antifa movements against Nazism.
With the rise in Antifa actions, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have labeled the anti-fascist group as domestic terrorists. In documents secured by Politico, the actions of Antifa are called, “domestic terrorist violence”.
Camille Landry is an activist within the Oklahoma community. During the Civil Rights Movement, she spent time in the south attempting to preach equality for African Americans. Landry has seen the struggle for civil rights up close.
Landry disagrees with the decision made by the Department of Homeland Security.
“Non-violence has a place but you need people like Antifa to be a barrier for those wanting to hurt you,” she said. “Communication will beat out confrontation but praying and swaying isn’t going to solve this it.”
She believes that Antifa has done more for the country than physically attack neo-nazis and white supremacists.
“Torch bearing Nazis aren’t a random thing,” Landry said. “What this administration has done for issues of race and equality has been like turning out the lights in a roach-filled kitchen. They’re all out now.”
The Trump administration has come to call the white supremacists the “alt-left” movement. It wasn’t until the president was pushed to condemn those who incited the violence that he called the group by what they’ve always been known as: Nazis.
“Don’t put the bow on the pig and call Nazism for what it is,” Landy said. “The word nazi still makes people’s blood curdle but how are we supposed to solve this issue if we can’t even say it’s name?”
“Back in the day, nobody questioned battling the Nazis; we just did. But when you have national leaders on the far right go on the media and talk about how things should be, it promotes those wanting to take a step back instead of forward,” she said.
Organizations like Antifa and the Alt Right are protected by the first amendment so long as they do not incite violence or start it. In many cases, the American Civil Liberties Union has defended divisive group’s rights to protest.
The Oklahoma ACLU was reached out to but they declined to comment on the subject of Antifa.
Rallies holding both groups have also had a police presence from the local area. Since the attacks at Charlottesville, many police departments have been equipped with riot gear and set up barriers between the two.
According to the Oklahoma City Police Department Santa Fe Division, they do not know about Antifa nor do they have a plan for the possibility of a rally.
As groups like the Fascists and Antifa pit themselves against one another, people must make a choice.
For 25 year old Elaine Miriam, the choice is simple: progress.
Miriam is a student at the University of Oklahoma going for her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She said, “as a up and coming sociologist, the stuff you see in the news is enough to make you wonder what tomorrow will be like.”
“It’s scary to see things you’ve seen in history come back to look society in the face once again,” Miriam said. “Yes, it’s sad that we’re still having to fight this fight but I think it’s necessary. I don’t typically promote violence and I wish death on no one.”
“However, Fascism has no place in the present. If we don’t act like those before us and fight it, then who will?”