Uncategorized 12 Mrz 2018 12:29 pm

Beware Great Lakes Antifa: Greatly Lack Accountability

„I’ve spent years doing antifascist work in the Midwest. I have never seen behavior as consistently bad and suspect as GLA. GLA puts all of us at risk and were a big factor in having to end the action early on March 5th.“

– Michigan Antifascist

„We understand that the model of GLA is attractive to anyone who is trying to join the fight against fascism & white supremacy. Our​ ​goal​ ​in​ ​writing​ ​this​ ​is​ ​not​ ​to​ ​shame​ ​new​ ​people​ ​that​ ​are excited​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​work.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​with​ ​the​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​they​ ​will​ ​see​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​criticisms​ ​&​ ​political differences​ ​seriously.​ This is something GLA has failed to do.“

– Solidarity and Defense

„Our decision to not associate with GLA or any affiliated persons is a decision purely based on behavior we have seen in relation to those in Cleveland, and the risks that this behavior poses to ourselves, our friends, our communities, our reputation and our projects; the question of whether we like or dislike members or GLA is irrelevant here.“

– Cleveland Antifascist Network

This is not a matter of personal dislike, or political differences. This is a matter of security.“

– Nashville Anti-Racist Action

On March 5th 2018, members of Great Lakes AntiFa (GLA), which grew out of a Facebook page that was started in March of 2017, assaulted a woman of color towards the end of the mobilization against Richard Spencer in East Lansing. When people came to this person’s defense, members of GLA responded with calling the targeted individual sexist names. Soon after, another altercation took place, after which an African-American antifascist not associated with GLA responded to them by saying, „You fucked with the wrong one, nigga.“ 

After this second attack by GLA, which led to #StopSpencer organizers having to cut the action short, members of GLA were instructed to leave the demonstration due to their repeated assaults on antifascists and continued problem causing that put the entire mobilization in danger, as well as distracted from the obvious objective. As members of GLA were leaving the area, they were seen to be following people involved in defending the woman of color from the attack to the parking lot. 

Days later, while anarchists and antifascists across the US and the world were mobilizing to offer jail support, kick Richard Spencer out of coffee shops, and fundraise $30K, members of GLA were instead producing videos showing the faces of individuals engaged in fighting and claiming that members of antifascist groups had attacked them, and that white antifascists had called an African American member of GLA the n-word. GLA also released personal information about antifascists, which was quickly picked up on by the Alt-Right and Nationalist Front associated website, the Occidental Dissident. 

While these actions are both shocking and pathetic, they also point to a continuation of ongoing unacceptable and unaccountable behavior on the part of Great Lakes Antifa (which also includes Nashville AntiFa), that so far has been denounced and written about by a wide variety of antifascist networks that represent crews across a vast amount of the United States. 

The actions by GLA in East Lansing, Michigan only continued a pattern of lies, unaccountable behavior, and actions that put everyone in danger. The common refrain from anyone that interacts with GLA for any period of time is that „People don’t act like this,“ and when put into a larger picture, the patterns of behavior are worrisome at best, but moreover extremely dangerous, bringing to mind „Anna“ in the Eric McDavid case.

To be clear: this is not petty drama. We are talking about a group that approaches people at protests and offers to buy them weapons and body armor. Who tries to bring people in with offers of funding, money, and resources. Who shows up to demonstrations they don’t organize in full black bloc to snap pictures, and laugh in the face of organizers who question their tactics. We are talking about people that thrive off of spreading lies, misinformation, and moreover, isolating new and impressionable people from more seasoned organizers by way of attacking anyone that is critical of their dangerous methods. People that physically lie about the projects they are involved in, and set up groups in order to vouch themselves into new one and organizing circles. Literally none of this is acceptable.

The #StopSpencer actions might have been cut short because of the actions of GLA, but they also ended in antifascists telling GLA plainly and clearly that they were unwanted and that they had to leave. In the spirit of our comrades who fought and bleed on the fields of East Lansing, let us now do the same.

In that vein, this website will be a clearing house of statements and information about Great Lakes Antifa and the dangers that they pose. We have collected these resources here in an attempt to remove the discussion from social media, and place it back into the hands of groups, organizations, networks, and crews. We encourage people to read these words and statements, share on Signal loops and over email, but please do not share on social media. Unlike GLA, we want to keep this internal.

In short, we call on the broader anarchist and antifascist movement in the US and beyond to end any and all association with Great Lakes Antifa. We call on the rank-n-file of GLA to remove your leadership so they can be held accountable. We know that there are people in GLA who may want to contribute to the social struggle in a real capacity, but as long as the current GLA leadership remains intact, they can never be a part of the broader movement. The reasons for this are as follows.

Physically Attacking Antifascists And Negatively Impacting #StopSpencer Actions:

*Members of GLA physically attacked a woman of color and other antifascists in East Lansing while also using sexist slurs. Further fights started by GLA led to the #StopSpencer mobilization being cut short. News of the fight was also reported on by the press, albeit in a very limited fashion. One participant who was there states:

„The GLA attacked ARA Nashville on two separate occasions on march 5th. Any attempt to spin it as the other way around is untrue. I know because I was there.“

*On social media, GLA put people, including their own members in danger by sharing video, images, and posting certain comments on Facebook that were completely inappropriate.  

*GLA spread false information that Richard Spencer had been arrested on Sunday, and then followed up with a „retraction“ that included more false information.

Lying to Gain Entry Onto Signal Loops and Organizing Spaces:

*As Nashville Anti-Racist Action wrote:

„They have lied to gain entry into multiple groups, offered resources and withdrawn them at critical moments, spread rumors, snitch jacketed other activists, and used their positions in groups to gain entry yet more groups.

One of them joined our Nashville Chapter and one joined an Antifascist group in Cleveland. They each used their position in one group to vouch the other [GLA member] into the other group. The third [GLA member] attempted to join Cincinnati Anti-Racist Action using the other two… as their vouch.“

*As Cleveland antifascists wrote:

„A member of GLA attempted to use one former member of Columbus ARA as a vouch with a member of the Cleveland Antifascist Network, even though this person had never met [them]. We have heard that a person claiming to be in GLA has attempted to use Cleveland antifascists as a vouch in an attempt to get involved in Cincinnati.“

Out Right Lying About Their Involvement In Projects:

*Members of GLA have lied about their involvement in different groups, their ‚connections,‘ and also about writing for various websites, seemingly in an effort to gain the trust of individuals.

*As Cleveland wrote:

„Through talking to people in other cities we have become aware of a general pattern of [a GLA leader] and others claiming affiliation with It’s Going Down and Idavox.“

*They went on to say:

„When we take this tendency to exaggerate their connections with others in the light of a tendency to react to being called out, AS WELL AS a tendency toward building layers and layers of deception on top of one another, it becomes impossible for us to trust anything or anyone…[that people] in GLA, has to say.“

Spreading Lies About Other Groups and Projects, Largely on Social Media:

*GLA leaders accused members of Nashville Anti-Racist Action of „turning people over to the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of Charlottesville.“

*GLA claimed that Nashville ARA called an African-American members of GLA the n-word in East Lansing on March 5th. Multiple people and groups on the ground who were there, dispute this.  

*On their Facebook page, spread false rumors that editors of ItsGoingDown.org were „talking to the FBI,“ based on an article that stated that the FBI was investigating a fight that took place with a Proud Boy in Chicago that was reported on by an „antifascist blog.“

*Long circulated rumors and claims that Cleveland Antifascist Network, and by proxy, ItsGoingDown.org for publishing their statement, „doxxed“ leaders of GLA. When in reality, the statement includes no names or personal information. Soon after, members of GLA did an interview with ProPublica, in which they gave their real names. After which they claim they received threats from the Alt-Right, but blame „being doxxed“ on statements which include no personal information.

Continuous Sketchy Talk Over Social Media and In Person that Raises Red Flags:

*As Cleveland Antifascist Network wrote:

The initial contact that any members from GLA made with Cleveland…This person claims to be operating a “Resistance network” which had contacts in 27 states, Puerto Rico, the UK, Canada and Finland, and which has access to significant funding, “training and project management” and technical resources.  They also provided their personal cell phone number.“

*Again from Cleveland:

„[GLA leader] claimed to have experience in doxxing people, a claim that was echoed in their other Facebook messages to others within our circles. [GLA leader] offered doxxing classes, food, transportation and lodging for Pikeville.  They also mentioned that they help people get resources for wheatpasting and banner drops.  At the end of the meeting, [GLA leader] handed members of Cleveland Antifa their official business card, which listed their real job, their real name and their office phone number.

The tendency to engage in public declarations of militancy, to openly talk about procuring weapons and body armor as declared enemies of the existence of the state, and to both encourage and brag about illegal activity, their failure to even impose a modicum of functional operational security is clearly a threat to anyone in or adjacent to this crew.“

Offering of Weapons, Money, and Resources As a Means to Curry Favors with Young, New People:

*Leaders of GLA have often offered to increase internet security for those they are attempting to work with. But as Nashville Anti-Racist Action explains, this has a flip side:

„One of the [GLA leaders] entered the Nashville group with offers of intelligence and a “private” VPN to conduct communications through. Thus they began by attempting to have singular control of all incoming, outgoing and internal communications of all organizational business. This was a red flag.“

*Leaders of GLA have approached people they have just met at protests and offered to buy them weapons. As Cleveland Antifascist Network wrote:

„We came to find out that [a GLA leader] was present at an anti-police brutality demonstration in Euclid, Ohio, an inner ring suburb of Cleveland.  During this event [the GLA leader]  discussed purchasing weapons and body armor for a group of people.  They also stated that they were the “real antifa” and that “other antifa in Cleveland are unreliable and cannot be trusted.”  They then tried to recruit a number of people at the event.

They have also generously extended this indiscretion to people outside the anarchist milieu, engaging liberal organizations in the area with talks of procuring weapons and body armor for near-strangers on their initial contact with said people.“

*Further still as Nashville Anti-Racist Action explains:

„In the run-up organizing for the large action in Pikeville, the Nashville group was offered free body armor and later weapons, as well as financing for travel. This all raised red flags. It was later determined that [partner of GLA leader] works as purchasing officer for the State of Tennessee. We suspect that this was an attempt to get people arrested with illegally transferred arms and stolen body armor on the eve of a major action.“

*Moreover, this is generally targeting younger, newer people, that are not well versed in security culture or who have been taught the ropes by older militants:

„It has also become clear that GLA has a general pattern of isolating marginally connected radical-leaning people in a city through claiming that known groups vouch for them, then speaking ill of local antifascists and attempting to get people that they have isolated to engage in risky activity, even to the point of providing weapons and body armor.“

*Sometimes GLA leaders offer training, or access to money and funding from politicians:

„[A GLA leader] told the locals involved in the discussion that they were able to train people in security culture and secure their computers, as well as raise a bunch of money from wealthy liberals.  XX claimed that they were part of a big organization that was operating locally, but knew nothing about other groups operating in Cleveland.  A day later, XX contacted Red Triangle from a profile under the name XXX  but immediately gave their real name (we have verified this) and claimed to be locked up in organizing for Pikeville for the time being.  The following day XX messaged again, and said that they had gotten a call from the office of Senator Sherrod Brown and tried to get the group to attend a meeting about funding.  They then sent along a file claiming to be a “whitepaper” about this organization they were claiming to be a part of.  Upon checking on this organization we found it to be a small organization, with only a handful of members and no discernible sources for the funding that they claim to have access to.“

*GLA often works to isolate young radicals from older more experienced militants, as Cleveland points out:

„In all of these interactions we are told that [GLA leaders]… told others that all of the antifa and anarchist groups in Cleveland are unreliable, untrustworthy purists that should not be bothered with, and that GLA are the only group worth working with. This generates a situation in which newer, and often younger, participants in the anarchist milieu in northern Ohio are isolated from older, more established groups, and compelled to work with… GLA“

Attempting to Use Black Lives Matter Cleveland for Emotional Labor in an Accountability Process Without Even Asking Them:

*Members of GLA sent ItsGoingDown.org, an anarchist website which published a statement by members of Cleveland Antifascist Network, an email, stating that because they had posted CAN’s statement, that they were being brought before an accountability process in Cleveland, Ohio, with Cleveland BLM facilitating. Only problem was, GLA never asked Cleveland BLM. Local antifascists and anarchists got in touch with Cleveland BLM, which soon issued a statement condemning GLA for attempting to use them in such a power play.

Responding to Calls for Accountability With Personal Attacks, Actual Doxxing, and the Spreading of Misinformation:

*Upon meeting antifascists in Cleveland, one of the GLA leaders went through a vetting process, but, „We heard through contacts in Louisville that word of the vetting process had reached XX, and they started complaining that they were being “picked on” and said that they wanted nothing to do with the “antifa community” anymore.“

*Likewise in Nashville:

„[GLA members] claimed to be “victimized” by members of Columbus ARA who compiled information and compared stories between Nashville, Cleveland and Cincinnati in order to verify vouches and identities. When the [GLA leaders] realized that communication between groups and networks was happening not through “secret and private” servers that they alone controlled, they began a campaign of disinformation and snitch jacketing against the members of Nashville ARA that initially questioned the wisdom, truthfulness and sincerity of their actions and offers.“

*Member of GLA have not responded in good faith to appeals for accountability. Instead, as a very new organization, they have turned to personal attacks, the releasing of private information and people’s names, and also spread a massive amount of false information.

*After spreading false information about logistics for an antifascist mobilization and then asked about it:

„When confronted about this in Nashville, [a GLA leader] started arguing with others in the discussion, deleted their social media profiles and disappeared.“

*Have refused or not responded to attempts at sit downs, de-escalations, and mediations.

*As Solidarity and Defense wrote:

„When real questions about your work, motivations and members are raised there is only one way to respond in good faith. Present information that addresses those concerns. That’s it. Don’t change the subject, don’t list unrelated reasons why GLA is important, don’t play the victim (as they did in responding to the cleveland piece). If you don’t agree, explain why. GLA has not done this and continues to avoid it. For Solidarity & Defense this means we cannot work with GLA. We stand with Anti Racist Action Network & Cleveland Antifascist Network and their refusal to work with GLA.“

*Has spread the lie that members of Nashville ARA have written all of the statements critical of GLA, taking away both the voices and agency of everyone involved in calling for their accountability.

*In one instance, GLA lied about working through their differences with an ARA chapter:

„We have heard that XX claimed to have had a four-hour long meeting with Columbus ARA, during which they worked out their differences; we checked with Columbus ARA and this meeting never took place. „

Showing Up to Actions Organized by Other Groups for a Photo Op and Not Being Accountable:

*As Solidarity and Defense wrote about GLA, who showed up to their June 10th action, they refused to have a discussion with local organizers about concerns, snapped a few photos for social media, and then left:

„GLA folks arrived in black block. When the specific approach related to building with that neighborhood was raised with them, they laughed it off and did not take it seriously. The attire was not the problem, but there being no room to discuss it’s pros or cons is a problem.“

*Cleveland antifascists describe a very similar situation after Charlottesville:

„August 19th…Burning River Anarchist Collective hosted a community solidarity event in the Slavic Village neighborhood with antifascists in Charlottesville. This was a community oriented event, one that was meant to provide a space in which community organizing could be done around antifascist struggle. During this event 4 members of GLA, including XX, showed up to the event in full black bloc, wearing body armor, held up a banner, snapped a picture and then promptly left.  Locally, this raised significant suspicions about the direction and general strategy of GLA, leaving many of us feeling as if their approach was generally reckless.“

Members of GLA went on to attack Cleveland antifascists for „being “purists” and fostering division, for merely being mildly critical of their approach to a community event.“

Building ‚Membership‘ Through Facebook and the Creation of an Army of GLA Clone Accounts:

*GLA has grown through the internet, and has added, and kicked out, a variety of people from being an admin on its main GLA page. Many of those kicked out of GLA have shared their stories with antifascists, stating that when they became critical of GLA leadership, they were quickly removed.

*GLA also grows by working its way into other Facebook pages and primarily new online anarchist spaces. 

*GLA has worked to set up a variety of other social media accounts to expand itself into new arenas, such as Great Lakes Anarchist Black Cross, Nashville Anarchist Black Cross, and so on. While these pages are often easy to spot, in that they generally just share GLA, Nashville AntiFa, and associated content, they all help amplify GLA within the wider movement and attempt to give it a level of respectability. It should be noted, that attempts to gain access into the Anarchist Black Cross has been completely rejected.

*As Solidarity and Defense wrote:

„As far as we can tell, GLA is largely made up of facebook admins, journalists, and folks who see themselves as a specialized squad of anti-fascists.“

There’s a difference between being new, and being a danger. GLA is a danger. Follow, interact, talk to, and organize with at your own risk, but people across the US are pushing them aside.

 

Uncategorized 12 Mrz 2018 03:05 am

Anonymous Statement on GLA after MSU

A member of GLA (masked up) was seen filming a violent interaction with cops during the protest and on two occasions members of GLA were involved in fights with other protestors.

It was a difficult situation at MSU. As one might expect, a number “protestors” were confirmed to both undercover cops and Nazis. Those who attempted to infiltrate the crowd were seen observing the crowd, talking on the phone, and filming protestors. In one case a masked provocateur was seen later entering Spencer’s talk. But there were also a number of false positives—white male protestors who entered the area alone (not the best idea perhaps) and were approached as if they were Nazis.

It was in this context, that a white male GLA member was observed filming clashes with cops on his phone (later in the day, others from GLA were seen fighting with protestors). They were approached and asked about why they were filming. They immediately became defensive and a group of comrades (also all white men) swarmed around to offer words of support for his actions—that it was cool/ok/chill/etc. to film. None of these men acknowledged what consent might look like for others involved. None of these men seemed the least bit self aware about how they might reasonably be perceived to be provocateurs—with their distinctive attire (their blue masks, chests puffed out by tactical vests, etc.) and their unusual and aggressive behavior toward fellow protestors. Though this GLA member (who identified himself as GLA) did stop filming, he and others made no attempt to acknowledge the underlying concerns that motivated the attempted intervention.

Consider as well that nearly all those who came to see Spencer speak were white men, and the many of the protestors were also white men. Most, if not all of the undercover cops, Nazis, and other provocatuers that were outed among the protestors were also white men. Among protestors, there were lots of groups represented, but the day was dominated by the behavior of white men—the very real and violent threat that white supremacist patriarchy poses to us all. It is in this context that antifa, anarchist, socialist, and leftist protestors of all kinds attempted to navigate through space together. GLA’s strange behavior should be considered in this context.

It is frustrating to encounter such ideological myopia while protesting to stop the pernicious creep of white supremacy in America. GLA members ended up arguing with a female protestor about their comrade’s strange conduct and ignoring requests for consent, much less acknowledge how some of their behavior might be at odds with the aims of the day. Their response was framed around their right to film, and the fact that their comrades could speak for them and “back them up.”

What is the burden on all of us to make sure that protesting against violent white supremacy doesn’t perpetuate the same systems we hope to dismantle? How can a commitment to supporting a diversity of tactics still find room for consent and care? How do we negotiate ideological differences, even in the midst of a protest and chaos, without resorting to empty oaths of loyalty and macho bravado?

Uncategorized 12 Mrz 2018 02:50 am

GDC Local 26 Statement Regarding Great Lakes Antifa

In light of recent developments and long-standing suspicions throughout the activist community, the Michiana General Defense Committee, Local 26, has voted to disavow itself of any further organizing with the self-proclaimed anti-fascist organization commonly known as “Great Lakes Antifa” or “GLA”.
 
Many prominent and respected veteran organizers and organizations have come forth in the last few months to criticize a number of behaviors, actions, and actors within GLA. We do not wish to get into the specifics of GLA’s behavior as it has been laid out in full in multiple statements by multiple organizations.
 
Prior to the events on March 4, 2018 in Detroit and on March 5, 2018 at Michigan State University, GDC Local 26 nor any of its members had any interactions with GLA that led them to believe that the “beef” between GLA and various other orgs was anything more than some personal conflicts that had been allowed to get out of hand.
 
However, after bearing first-hand witness to GLA’s behavior in Detroit and to most of the commonly described bad actor events at MSU, GDC Local 26 can stand to the side no longer. Be they fash, feds, or just ego-obsessed glory hounds with poor tactical planning, GLA as an organization represents a real threat to the anti-fascist movement and left unity. We are not a fan of so-called “purity tests” which further divide our movement based on seemingly arbitrary sets of principles, but if a real danger presents itself (as GLA does) we have no problem calling it out and distancing ourselves from those actors.
 
While we are cognizant of our role as a committee of a certified Labor Union and understand that our primary role is to protect the working class in its struggle against capitalistic tyranny, we also recognize that in that role we must openly and actively fight against the fascist creep. In doing so, we may alienate some members of the working class who side with fascist interests. We work hard every day to ensure that our role in the movement against fascism and capitalist tyranny is as educational, intersectional, and all-encompassing as possible, including defense of any people who have had their voice marginalized by the capital class. It is clear from their behavior that GLA does not have the same goals in mind.
 
To that end, the Michiana General Defense Committee, Local 26 stands in solidarity with those orgs who have already spoken out about GLA’s behavior and tactics and will no longer associate with GLA in anyway.

Uncategorized 12 Mrz 2018 12:07 am

Reportback from MSU Stop Richard Spencer/in re: GLA

Antifascists within the Hoosier AntiRacist Movement (HARM) that attended the Michigan State University: Stop Richard Spencer, action on March 5th witnessed behavior perpetrated by Great Lakes Antifa members (GLA) that were antagonistic, aggressive and violent towards other antifascists at the action. Since GLA has exhibited that the bulk of their work is online, spreading lies and misinformation among their suspiciously large amount of followers, we felt it necessary as trusted comrades to reveal what we saw take place at this event.
 
First, the night before the action one of us received a screenshot from a fellow antifascist off-site, that claimed their crew had chased Richard Spencer in Detroit, that he as well as other fascists had been arrested for illegal weapons possession, and that the talk at MSU would likely not happen the following day. We fact checked this intel with other comrades we were in contact with, and identified the post as coming from confirmed GLA member. Around the same time as this claim was made, while we were investigating in the city of Ann Arbor, we confirmed the fascist entourage that was undoubtedly there to attend the Richard Spencer speech, had retreated to a private residence there. For some of us who had been in Pikeville, this was reminiscent of when the twins had spread false claims that basecamp had been compromised. Both these untrue claims, along with many other lies coming out since MSU about what had transpired there have spread wildly. We are left to believe that GLA’s lies seem to have the primary goal of undermining attendance by antifascists at each of these separate actions and planting seeds of distrust within various antifascist crews and networks.
 
On March 5th at MSU, antifascists were gathered in a large parking lot surrounded by an even larger field, waiting for the neo-nazis to show up, with intent to prevent them from attending the speaking event. Throughout the day, several GLA members would circle the entire crowd, walking briskly together or in a line, and then all rush up to one of three antifascists they were targeting. They would stand within inches of them, invade their personal space, and antagonize them verbally. We observed them to repeat such behavior over the course of several hours, and noticed them attempting to maintain a consistent proximity to the targeted folks.
 
After the neo-nazis arrived and during resistance to both the fash and police trying to escort them through, one antifascist witnessed a GLA member, later identified as one of the twins, punch another antifascist, a woman of color, in the face. A white male GLA member standing by screamed, “Shut up, bitch!” at the victim of this attack. Various antifascists who witnessed this began yelling at the entire GLA group, saying they were behaving like provocateurs. Several S & D members attempted to de-escalate the situation, and told them to save their unresolved issues for another time and place because we were there to resist the fash.At another point during this altercation, one of us witnessed a black antifascist confronting a white male GLA member about their group’s behavior. This GLA member then physically attacked the black antifascist. One of us jumped in to intervene. At this point many surrounding antifascists protesters were angry, yelling and chanting, “GLA, Get the Fuck Out.” Another antifascist yelled several times, “GLA, there is no place for you in the movement.” GLA still remained at the protest area of the parking lot, yet distanced themselves several meters from anyone else.
 
When the action was over, and people were walking to their cars in the parking lot across the street, we decided to keep an eye on four GLA members, who were walking together and pointing at the black antifascist they had jumped earlier. They showed clear intentions of following that comrade by mimicking every turn they made through the rows of parked vehicles. When the black antifascist was entering their car, and the four GLA members were discussing what to do, we cut them off and confronted them, telling them they were going to knock it off right now, stop following the comrade and go home, or it was going to get ugly for them. They acted like they didn’t know what we were talking about. One of us told them we had been watching them all day, that their actions were atrocious, and they needed to leave. They began walking diagonally across the entire parking lot, and we followed them until we knew the black antifascist had left.
 
We at HARM had seen the multiple callouts regarding GLA and have heard several personal accounts of their sketchy behavior. While some others have perceived these statements as petty and divisive beefs between crews, we find the actions we witnessed in Michigan from GLA to betray what antifascists as a whole should represent. Observing such behavior with our own eyes has confirmed all suspicions that GLA, for unknown reasons, are not comrades and surely must be the source and cause of any infighting allegations. Their behavior of immediately taking to online platforms to spread fake news narratives while most committed antifascists were busy doing jail support for arrestees is another clear indication of what these people are about. (Not that life). The event at MSU was a rousing success and a crushing blow for the Alt Right. We cannot allow GLA to sabotage our victory. We remain vigilant in our dedication to resisting the fascist creep, while GLA is apparently committed to interference with movement goals. Their consistent attempts to undermine actions, spread dissent among our ranks, weasel their way in to any circle not already aware of their bullshit, and deflect every callout accusation as perpetual victims are all red flags to us and hopefully anyone trying to make sense of this mess. GLA are doing the work of the fash and the state, are therefore dangerous, and not to be trusted.

Uncategorized 11 Mrz 2018 07:52 pm

GLA Attacks Antifascists at Anti-Spencer Action

March 10th, 2018

I was at the protest against richard spencer in East Lansing on March 5th. Much of the day was inspiring but several incidents happened that were not. I feel like I have to lay out what I saw, due to the lies and misinformation being spread by Great Lakes Antifa (GLA). A lot of what they are doing and saying is dangerous and untrue. I’ve been to anti-fascist actions for years but this is the first time I’ve seen one group, the GLA, pick a physical fight with other anti- fascists.

The way for people to make real decisions about what happened is by hearing several accounts from as many people as possible. We need to have discussion and disagreements in private, but GLA is talking shit publicly on Facebook so we have a responsibility to respond. Every false accusation I see GLA put up on Facebook as well as every video they post to their Facebook that could in turn get people in trouble, only makes talking about what really happened much more important if not necessary. Their behaviour is both idiotic and dangerous.

The GLA attacked ARA Nashville on two separate occasions on march 5th. Any attempt to spin it as the other way around is untrue. I know because I was there.

There were at least three situations from the Stop Richard Spencer demonstration that worried me about GLA. I was a first hand witness to two of them.

1st GLA Attack

I saw three GLA members (or at least folks who run with GLA) attack another antifascist, lets call her Yellow Bandana. Yellow Bandana, a woman of color was attacked by the GLA members. They attacked three against one. For clarity, I’ll call the three GLA members Flower Bandana, Blue bandana and Facemask. Here is exactly what I saw:

Around 5:30 pm, there was a big grouping of people trying to prevent the police from escorting a nazi into the event. Yellow Bandana was standing in the back of this grouping. This is near the Southeastern end of the parking lot where many of the nazis and fascists were trying to be escorted through, along the white fence. The three GLA members ( Flower, Blue & Facemask) approached Yellow Bandana, who is a woman of color, while she was alone. Flower Bandana called Yellow Bandana a bitch and swung on them. From where I was at in the crowd, I started to move towards the attack. Before I got there, Blue and Facemask had both swung on Yellow Bandana, who then defended themselves.

Flower Bandana, the initiator of the attack, then started screaming that they had been attacked. They did this extremely loud and often. Too loudly and often in fact to where it came off as being both forced and exaggerated. This was bullshit, I saw it start. Flower Bandana had attacked first, it was not the other way around.

While that was happening in the background, Facemask continued calling Yellow Bandana “a fucking bitch“ and making threatening comments like „i’ll slap the shit out of you, i don’t give a fuck“. I know others around me heard Facemask yelling this because another person in the crowd yelled at them for this behavior. The person in the crowd said roughly, „If you are gonna call a woman a bitch, then you aren’t anti-fascist“. This then sent Facemask into a screaming tirade against the person from the crowd. The person in the crowd was right, there is no place for that kind of misogyny in anti-fascist circles.

By this time Blue Bandana had disappeared, but people had to stand in between Yellow Bandana and Facemask to prevent Facemask from attacking, while Flower Bandana fake screamed about being punched. Eventually Facemask was pulled away by other people with them. GLA eventually removed their people, in my opinion because too many people near the incident saw them as the attackers & aggressors.

2nd GLA Attack

About 15 minutes later, Near the Northeastern corner of the main lot, I saw the second attack. Much of the protest had moved from the southeastern corner to the northeastern corner. Things were starting to wind down until I heard a commotion and turned around to see Yellow Bandana with two of their people being attacked. From where I was at, they were being attacked by 6-7 GLA members or people associated with GLA. I know this because I saw Blue Bandana & Facemask from the earlier attack. It was a fight that was going both ways but the attack earlier had clearly lead to this. GLA had started shit only 15 minutes earlier, however when the second attack started, it happened because of the 3 on 1 attack from earlier. Blue Bandana’s bandana & hat came off and I will remember that face. It was the same person that swung for the second time on Yellow Bandana during this second attack. Additionally, Facemask was out of control and at one point swung on other GLA members. GLA is now posting publicly that they were attacked. This is bullshit.

From GLA’s smear campaign on the internet, this is supposed to be when a GLA member was called the N word by a white person. I was at the majority of this fight and never heard the N word. I also never heard anyone reference this incident. It would be fucked up if that happened, but I heard no one reference it at any point during the fight. It would have been a point of outrage and would certainly have come up. This is why I do not believe anyone was called the N word by a white person. If it had happened, people on both sides of the dispute would have been pissed.

Myself along with 5 or more people stepped in between the group of three and the GLA group of 6-7. The crowd started yelling for the group of 6-7 to leave. Enough other anti-fascists were yelling this that the GLA instigators restrained Facemask enough to leave the protest. There were enough people pissed at the GLA folks that they left the action.

I’ve heard from several people that the the GLA crew attacked a single person near the parking lot. This does not surprise me but I’d be very interested to hear from whoever was attacked.

I’ve spent years doing antifascist work in the Midwest. I have never seen behavior as consistently bad and suspect as GLA. This includes every interaction I’ve had with them in person (at least 5 times) and every online interaction. GLA puts all of us at risk and were a big factor in having to end the action early on March 5th. Many folks wanted to stop while we had so many victories and before GLA attacked others another time.

That is what I saw and was part of. GLA is dangerous. This write up is aimed at anyone that has any contact with GLA. Listen to what they say and then compare it to your experiences. Think for yourself. To the newer members of GLA who want to fight fascism, I understand this is the first crew you are part of, but this is not how you do this work. I don’t think GLA can be trusted. While many were doing jail support and follow up on this weekend’s successful confrontations of nazis & fascists, GLA was bus cranking out facebook posts, bizarre propaganda videos & lies. Don’t believe the hype & think for yourselves.

signed,
KD 
A Michigan Anti-fascist since 2005

******************

For background on the ever growing list of criticisms of Great Lakes Antifa (GLA)

http://facebook.com/nashvilleara/posts/1937197919851735?pnref=story

https://itsgoingdown.org/statement-great-lakes-antifa-clev…/

http://solidarityndefense.net/…/solidarity-defense-stateme…/

Uncategorized 11 Mrz 2018 07:43 pm

Solidarity & Defense Statement on Great Lakes Antifa

December 15th, 2017

Solidarity & Defense will not organize with Great Lakes Antifa (GLA) or its members. Solidarity & Defense is not a part of Great Lakes Antifa (GLA), despite being based in the great lakes.

We are alarmed about GLA’s lack of accountability and the dangers that creates. There are also GLA members wanting to join Solidarity & Defense so these are not abstract ideas on the internet, GLA’s behavior has real world consequences.

Due to the statements and real life encounters, we will not work with GLA or any GLA members, until they adequately address the real questions raised about the group’s activity & intentions. If​ ​GLA​ ​were​ ​to​ ​honestly​ ​address these concerns,​ ​we​ ​would​ ​revisit​ ​our​ ​position.

We understand that the model of GLA is attractive to anyone who is trying to join the fight against fascism & white supremacy. It is a way to plug in, which everyone needs. We​ ​want​ ​to​ ​give​ ​space​ ​for​ ​new​ ​ideas​ ​and approaches​ ​that support​ ​building​ ​a​ ​mass​ ​anti-fascism​ ​that​ ​is​ ​principled.​ ​Our​ ​goal​ ​in​ ​writing​ ​this​ ​is​ ​not​ ​to​ ​shame​ ​new​ ​people​ ​that​ ​are excited​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​work.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​with​ ​the​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​they​ ​will​ ​see​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​criticisms​ ​&​ ​political differences​ ​seriously.​ This is something GLA has failed to do.

In order for actions to be effective, you have to organize and mobilize in and alongside communities against attacks. This is the starting point for building an anti-fascism that has appeal beyond activist subcultures. GLA claims to be a network of leftist antifascists that can show up to demos. Building elite forces against fascism will not stop them, but mass anti-fascism can.

Following the publication of this statement, any folks still involved or associated with GLA will need to make a choice. Participating in Solidarity & Defense means no longer participating in GLA. This will need to be verified and accepted as genuine by Solidarity & Defense.

ARA​ ​&​ ​Cleveland​ ​are​ ​Right

The statements made by the Anti Racist Action Network and the Cleveland Antifascist Network reflect much of the larger concerns with the GLA. Their statements can be found here. To us, they adequately address the concerns about specific individuals as well as GLA’s refusal to address their mistakes and continued questionable behavior.

1. facebook.com/nashvilleara/posts/1937197919851735?pnref=story
2. itsgoingdown.org/statement-great-lakes-antifa-cleveland-antifascist-network/

ARA Network & Cleveland Antifascist Network are groupings that we respect and trust. A number of us within Solidarity & Defense find these statements credible and consistent with what we have seen from GLA, though our interactions with them vary. We share the concerns raised by their statements and feel that GLA has failed to respond to them in any real way.

Read their responses. Their attempts to paint this as some kind of doxxing of their members is not true. It is no way to respond to serious criticisms and tries to paint GLA as a victim, which is also not true. The public statements from gla are available here:

Fear and Purity: Sinking the Revolutionary Ship ~Great Lakes AntiFa

And, on their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesAntiFa/
Particularly you should read posts from November 4th, 2017.

When real questions about your work, motivations and members are raised there is only one way to respond in good faith. Present information that addresses those concerns. That’s it. Don’t change the subject, don’t list unrelated reasons why GLA is important, don’t play the victim (as they did in responding to the cleveland piece). If you don’t agree, explain why. GLA has not done this and continues to avoid it. For Solidarity & Defense this means we cannot work with GLA.

We stand with Anti Racist Action Network & Cleveland Antifascist Network and their refusal to work with GLA.

We​ ​Disagree​ ​with​ ​GLA’s​ ​Political​ ​Approach

In June, Solidarity & Defense held a demonstration against an anti-Muslim event in an immigrant neighborhood. Much work went into building local relationships as part of the action. This is a broader discussion, but in this instance Solidarity & Defense choose to orient towards meeting people, being accessible and building a broad anti-fascist and anti-racist movement. One that has room for folks new to the politics. GLA folks arrived in black block. When the specific approach related to building with that neighborhood was raised with them, they laughed it off and did not take it seriously. The attire was not the problem, but there being no room to discuss it’s pros or cons is a problem.

This is one example but is reflected in other folks experiences with GLA. Cleveland & ARA addressed a number of concerns, we would also like to address our own political disagreements with GLA on what needs to be the focus for anti-fascist activity.

The​ ​main​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​disagreement​ ​are:

1. Anti-fascist projects need to do a better job of orienting to regular people. GLA is doing the opposite of this.

2. Black Block is a tactic, not a politic or strategy. Using it as your default is a mistake. It should be used in specific
situations, when it makes sense. Doing it every time makes you a target.

3. Hype and optics are over-rated. Over stating victories is a mistake and is irresponsible. We need to be honest. Saying things like, “redneck revolt drove the III% militia out” (itsgoingdown.org/lansing-michigan-report-back-from-shut-down-of-islamophobic-march/), besides being inaccurate (the III% militia already planned to relocate), this overstates achievements. This is again reflected on their facebook where they say, “a team that successfully shuttered an entire state chapter of the National Socialist Movement (NSM)” (Great Lakes Antifa Facebook Page, Nov 9th). This is ridiculous. A doxxing of the NSM is great, but let’s not pretend it ended their activity.

4. Antifascist projects need to be based in the real world, with real work being done. Research, intel & security are crucial parts of this, need to happen and are tactics we agree with. As far as we can tell, GLA is largely made up of facebook admins, journalists, and folks who see themselves as a specialized squad of anti-fascists. Folks like this should participate in anti-fascist organizing alongside regular people and the people new to anti-fascism who are excited about it. Skills are good to have. Sharing those skills with others is even better.

These all point towards a discussion of what kind of anti-fascism do we want. Solidarity & Defense wants to build a mass response to fascism. One based in communities with a range of backgrounds and approaches. A diversity of tactics is essential but there must still be room for questioning of, and criticism for tactics we disagree with. Diversity of Tactics doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want. You must still explain yourself and justify your approach. We can then disagree, but you are still accountable for what you do.

GLA has shown itself to be unaccountable, to anyone. We want nothing to do with that kind of approach.

with respect,
Solidarity & Defense
solidarityndefense@gmail.com
solidarityndefense.net

Uncategorized 11 Mrz 2018 07:42 pm

Statement on ‘Great Lakes Antifa’ from Cleveland Antifascist Network

Posted on October 20th, 2017

We do not undertake this task joyously.  Those in the anarchist milieu that have interacted with people from the Cleveland scene in the last few years know that we are not prone to get involved in personal conflicts and cause “drama,” and avoid it as much as we can.  We are also not very apt to air our collective decisions, particularly when they involve other groups, publicly.  But, with this said, this moment, and this specific situation is an exception to this rule.  Over the past 8 months we have watched as an organization known as Great Lakes Antifa has caused problems, not only within other cities, but within Cleveland as well, following a pattern of behavior that is dangerous and deceptive.  Over the past week this situation has hit a point of critical mass, with threats and recriminations being articulated by a number of different groups, which have forced us to have to articulate an otherwise internal decision publicly, and explain why we will not work with Great Lakes Antifa or anyone associated with them.

Before getting into the specifics of this decision there are some disclaimers that we would like to put forward first.  The decision that has been made internally within the Cleveland Antifascist Network is not a result of the horrendous behavior that we have seen some within GLA engage in over the course of the past week, since the Antiracist Action Network statement was released on October 6, 2017.  The only decision that has been made as a result of the gas-lighting, threats and general abuse exhibited over the past week has been to articulate already existing concerns in public.  This is also not a decision that has been made for personal reasons, or in relation to the dynamics of GLA’s conflicts with groups in other cities.  Our decision to not associate with GLA or any affiliated persons is a decision purely based on behavior we have seen in relation to those in Cleveland, and the risks that this behavior poses to our selves, our friends, our communities, our reputation and our projects; the question of whether we like or dislike members or GLA is irrelevant here.  This has nothing to do with personality conflicts, things that can be loosely called “drama,” or anything having to do with the social dynamics between us and them, and this is not a question of “purism” – an accusation thrown around by GLA consistently –  and one that has been aimed at us in the past.  We will be sticking to our reflections of their general strategy and style of action, and articulating our concerns in relation to this only.

We will also not be releasing personal information about people in GLA, although we have it, and we will not be revealing some of the more damning information that we possess.  At this point we are unsure what the motivations behind some of the more reckless and deceptive behavior that we will outline here are, but do not feel it is appropriate to reveal any information that could put GLA members at risk for repression by the state.  As such, we will reveal as much as we can, and nothing more, while avoiding any additional risk, beyond the risk that GLA poses to itself and others in proximity to it. We will only be discussing what is relevant in relation to the specific behavior that we would like to outline here.

This statement is also not a topic of continued discussion.  We have no desire to debate this.  For the past series of weeks we have been compiling information, doing our research, obtaining verifiable information and discussing events with people from a variety of scenes and political tendencies, and our conclusions are the same now as they were months ago.  We will not be responding to attacks on social media and we will not be engaging with those that wish to debate this.  If you do not like the decision that we have made, then please feel free to not associate with us.  Given some of the information that we have been privy to over the past week we will be taking a position of protecting ourselves from threats that anyone associated with GLA would like to make, and will be immediately documenting and making public within the anarchist milieu, nationally and internationally, any threats that we do receive without responding to those that may choose to resort to threatening tactics.  This is the case for any member of any group associated with the Cleveland Antifascist Network, and any of the people that are within our circles of trust, families, friend groups and associated circles.

Now, with that out of the way, lets get down to it.  The reasons that we have chosen, months ago, to not only not associate with Great Lakes Antifa, but to treat them as a possible threat to our safety, can be broken down into five primary categories of behavior: deceptive behavior, recklessness, horrendous operational security and the illusion of security expertise, inaccurate portrayals of relationships and associations in the attempt to gain entry into groups or scenes, and general shit-talking.  These behaviors will be outlined below, with as many specifics as we deem necessary to reveal.  This behavior began around the beginning of 2017, with our first contact with anyone associated with GLA occurring in February, and has continued throughout the entirety of this year.  The decision to not associate with GLA, just for context, was made internally at the end of April / early May, and has been held internally since that time.  Since that decision was made we have had other interactions with them, but have also been paying close attention to their behavior over the five months since we chose to quietly disassociate from them entirely.  In that time we have not only found that this behavior has continued, but that it has increased in frequency and magnitude, and has hit a point in which our grievances need to be aired to the anarchist milieu at large.

Timeline

“THIS PERSON CLAIMS TO BE OPERATING A “RESISTANCE NETWORK” WHICH HAD CONTACTS IN 27 STATES, PUERTO RICO, THE UK, CANADA AND FINLAND, AND WHICH HAS ACCESS TO SIGNIFICANT FUNDING, “TRAINING AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT” AND TECHNICAL RESOURCES.  THEY ALSO PROVIDED THEIR PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER.”

The initial contact that any members from GLA made with Cleveland, through a Facebook sock puppet account, occurred on February 27th.  This account, which currently uses a username in Russian, but which at the time was under the name “Jessica Marie” and signed their message “Jessica,” sent a message in an attempt to get in contact with someone in Cleveland Antifa. We will refer to this person as “XX” as a shorthand to protect their (presumably) real name. This person claims to be operating a “Resistance network” which had contacts in 27 states, Puerto Rico, the UK, Canada and Finland, and which has access to significant funding, “training and project management” and technical resources.  They also provided their personal cell phone number.

The first record that anyone from Cleveland can find of XX undertaking any political organizing in the Cleveland area is a GoFundMe page created in February of 2017, attempting to raise money to defeat Rob Portman, a state politician, in 2022.  This page was set up by XX, prior to the creation of the Great Lakes Antifa page (which seems to have occurred in March of 2017), who has since become a distinct source of much of the controversy between antifascist crews in the region. This page, which we have found in our research into the group, was set up under an alias, one that has been the medium of much of the communication with groups in Cleveland, with the only update on the page being posted under a verifiable real name of XX.  At this point, contrary to claims that XX had been active in antifascist circles in Cleveland for years, none of us had ever had any contact with this specific person.  We would not make any contact with them until around one month later.

Our first record of real-life interaction with XX occurred on March 4th of 2017 during a counter-demonstration during a pro-Trump rally.  That evening, XX attended an IWW bowling social in town and had some discussions with members of the Red Triangle CLE nonprofit, a group attempting to raise money to open a radical community space in Cleveland. XX told the locals involved in the discussion that they were able to train people in security culture and secure their computers, as well as raise a bunch of money from wealthy liberals.  XX claimed that they were part of a big organization that was operating locally, but knew nothing about other groups operating in Cleveland.  A day later, XX contacted Red Triangle from a profile under the name “Jessica Marie,” but immediately gave their real name (we have verified this) and claimed to be locked up in organizing for Pikeville for the time being.  The following day XX messaged again, and said that they had gotten a call from the office of Senator Sherrod Brown and tried to get the group to attend a meeting about funding.  They then sent along a file claiming to be a “whitepaper” about this organization they were claiming to be a part of.  Upon checking on this organization we found it to be a small organization, with only a handful of members and no discernible sources for the funding that they claim to have access to.

“XX TOLD THE LOCALS INVOLVED IN THE DISCUSSION THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO TRAIN PEOPLE IN SECURITY CULTURE AND SECURE THEIR COMPUTERS, AS WELL AS RAISE A BUNCH OF MONEY FROM WEALTHY LIBERALS.  XX CLAIMED THAT THEY WERE PART OF A BIG ORGANIZATION THAT WAS OPERATING LOCALLY, BUT KNEW NOTHING ABOUT OTHER GROUPS OPERATING IN CLEVELAND.”

Around this time we had started vetting XX, who had contacted the Red Triangle group in late March / early April as a member of Great Lakes Antifa, an organization that has seemingly existed since March of 2017.  During this process we attempted to find any history of their past work, and could not find any.  We went as far as to contact people throughout the region, and to ask whether anyone knew who XX was, and no one had any experiences with them.  We heard through contacts in Louisville that word of the vetting process had reached XX, and they started complaining that they were being “picked on” and said that they wanted nothing to do with the “antifa community” anymore.  At this time the approach that was being taken was one of caution, but still possible engagement.  After their reaction to the vetting process, a common process in this area, suspicions started to be raised about their practices and their interactions with other groups in the region.  Nothing, at this point, however, was severe enough for us to completely cut ties.

In mid-March, after an admin on the Cleveland Antifa Facebook page made contact with XX to discuss Pikeville and transportation to the demonstration.  A meeting was scheduled and during, XX claimed to have experience in doxxing people, a claim that was echoed in their other Facebook messages to others within our circles. XX offered doxxing classes, food, transportation and lodging for Pikeville.  They also mentioned that they help people get resources for wheatpasting and banner drops.  At the end of the meeting, XX handed members of Cleveland Antifa their official business card, which listed their real job, their real name and their office phone number. The group was willing to accept the assistance in getting to Pikeville, but suspicions were beginning to be raised by some around how incredibly open this person was about illegal and pseudo-illegal activities and the connections they purported to have, especially because they were willing to do this and then identify with their real name.

Following this meeting there was a short discussion about logistics for coordinating the counter-demonstration to the white supremacist convergence in Pikeville.  Two days before Cleveland was to leave for Pikeville, XX told people from Cleveland that “basecamp” in Pikeville was compromised, that no one should go, and then cut off contact.  They then tried to get people from Cleveland to post this information to a group chat for the organizing of “basecamp” which people from Cleveland were a part of, but XX was not. Cleveland Antifa checked the information to others involved in organizing “basecamp” before posting it to the wider group, and were assured that this information was incorrect.  When asked where this information came from they said it came from Nashville, but when checked with people from Nashville this was also shown to be incorrect.  When confronted about this in Nashville, XX started arguing with others in the discussion, deleted their social media profiles and disappeared. Over the past week, we have been privy to a statement that was being drafted within Nashville Antifa, a crew very close to and comprised of many of the same people as GLA, in which they claim that this claim stemmed from someone in Cleveland outing the real name of this specific GLA member to the people running “basecamp.”

We will discuss this more later, but, in brief, the person being accused of providing XX’s real name to the organizers did not in fact know their real name; although XX was not that careful about what their real name was, having provided business cards to people in Cleveland, identifying with their real name to others in Cleveland and posting the GoFundMe page under both their assumed name and updating it under their real name.

After this incident, and the general behavior of XX and others in GLA around Pikeville, those within the Cleveland Antifascist Network decided that we were not going to have anything further to do with GLA or anyone affiliated with them, but at the time decided that we would keep this to ourselves and not go public with our experiences.  Throughout the summer we had no contact with XX or anyone else affiliated with the group.  This stayed the case until August 19th, when Burning River Anarchist Collective hosted a community solidarity event in the Slavic Village neighborhood with antifascists in Charlottesville.  This was a community oriented event, one that was meant to provide a space in which community organizing could be done around antifascist struggle.  During this event 4 members of GLA, including XX, showed up to the event in full black bloc, wearing body armor, held up a banner, snapped a picture and then promptly left.  Locally, this raised significant suspicions about the direction and general strategy of GLA, leaving many of us feeling as if their approach was generally reckless.

This prompted an argument, which played out over Facebook, between XX and a member of Cleveland Antifa.  The argument was started when the member of Cleveland Antifa criticized GLA for showing up to a community event and being generally intimidating, questioning their strategic decisions in relation to the event.  XX got immediately defensive and then cut off the conversation.  We have come to find out that this prompted a post on a Facebook page run by another member of GLA, which we will call YY.  In this post YY accuses an unknown group, which is clearly Cleveland Antifa, of being “purists” and fostering division, for merely being mildly critical of their approach to a community event.

Also, we came to find out in the weeks following this incident that XX was present at an anti-police brutality demonstration in Euclid, Ohio, an inner ring suburb of Cleveland.  During this event XX discussed purchasing weapons and body armor for a group of people.  They also stated that they were the “real antifa” and that “other antifa in Cleveland are unreliable and cannot be trusted.”  They then tried to recruit a number of people at the event.  This fits a general pattern that we have become aware of in the time since the Burning River event, in which XX will approach people either that live in suburbs, or that are on the fringes of activity in Cleveland, offering to provide training, and talking openly about purchasing “weapons” and body armor.

We have also become aware, since this time, that XX has tried to claim that they had done a lot of work with people in Burning River Anarchist Collective, in discussions with local liberals, even though Burning River only knows XX through showing up at their event, and had no interaction with them there.  A member of GLA, who we will refer to as ZZ, attempted to use one former member of Columbus ARA as a vouch with a member of the Cleveland Antifascist Network, even though this person had never met ZZ.  ZZ then started posting evidence of illegal actions directly to the Cleveland Antifa page on Facebook, encouraging members to participate.  We have heard that a person claiming to be in GLA has attempted to use Cleveland antifascists as a vouch in an attempt to get involved in Cincinnatti. We have also become aware that XX has moved to the area.  Since then we have been in contact with a number of people that have interacted with XX, who all have similar stories.  In this common narrative XX will show up at some sort of event in the suburbs, talk to the people there and then convince them that they should engage in low-level illegal activities, while convincing them that they can help with information security and resources.

“IN THIS COMMON NARRATIVE XX WILL SHOW UP AT SOME SORT OF EVENT IN THE SUBURBS, TALK TO THE PEOPLE THERE AND THEN CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY SHOULD ENGAGE IN LOW-LEVEL ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, WHILE CONVINCING THEM THAT THEY CAN HELP WITH INFORMATION SECURITY AND RESOURCES.”

Since the ARA Network statement about GLA and Nashville Antifa we have become aware of a number of other incidents that are both disturbing and in keeping with a pattern of general retaliation, deception and recklessness.  The Cleveland Antifa Facebook page reposted the ARA Network statement about GLA, and immediately began to get attacked by trolls, claiming either to be in GLA, or to “know people” in GLA.  We have heard that XX claimed to have had a four-hour long meeting with Columbus ARA, during which they worked out their differences; we checked with Columbus ARA and this meeting never took place.  Through talking to people in other cities we have become aware of a general pattern of XX and others claiming affiliation with It’s Going Down and Idavox, both of which have only had passing discussions with them on Facebook (and with Idavox specifically interacting with them in an attempt to mediate the conflict between Nashville people in the wake of the release of the statement).  It has also become clear that GLA has a general pattern of isolating marginally connected radical-leaning people in a city through claiming that known groups vouch for them, then speaking ill of local antifascists and attempting to get people that they have isolated to engage in risky activity, even to the point of providing weapons and body armor.

Needless to say, this is a disturbing pattern; below we will be outlining the specific issues we have had with their behavior since the beginning of the year. In hearing these stories, having these experiences and generally coming to understand the scale of the disruption XX and others in GLA have caused throughout the region the decision was made to break our silence about this situation and explain our decision to not work with GLA or anyone affiliated with the group.  Again, this is a long standing decision that was made before our interactions with those in other cities about the subject.  We want to reiterate that we are unclear as to the motivations for this behavior, and do not want to openly speculate about this at this time.  We would just like to encourage other to approach GLA with extreme caution, to not necessarily take what they are saying at face value and to confirm any claims that they make with others that are involved.

Reasons

Recklessness

The first thing that struck people in Cleveland as being amiss with XX and their close associates in Great Lakes Antifa that we have interacted with was the way in which they were 1) willing to both divulge details about their group, or what they said were details about their group, and 2) encourage others to do illegal actions in contexts in which their connections to said people were superficial and often did not extend beyond the immediate discussions they were having at the time.  This is coupled with a tendency to engage in a sort of aesthetic militancy, wherein GLA (or specifically XX) portrays itself as being “the most militant,” while not actually focusing on the proper or strategic action for the moment.

“THIS IS COUPLED WITH A TENDENCY TO ENGAGE IN A SORT OF AESTHETIC MILITANCY, WHEREIN GLA (OR SPECIFICALLY XX) PORTRAYS ITSELF AS BEING “THE MOST MILITANT,” WHILE NOT ACTUALLY FOCUSING ON THE PROPER OR STRATEGIC ACTION FOR THE MOMENT.”

The reality is that – for all of the talk and aesthetics of militancy put forward by XX and others within GLA, there is very little actual action to show for it.  They have been present at some actions, carried out some minor direct actions within march contexts (which they then would openly admit to online) and engaged in wheatpasting campaigns.  Beyond this, there is very little actual action to show for all of the work that they are claiming to have done.  Now, we aren’t saying this to discredit their militant credibility as “not doing enough” – rather we are concerned that, despite realtively little engagement in seriously disruptive or confrontational action, they are openly encouraging a sort of reckless militancy based in the idea that presenting as militant, and dressing the part, can compensate for a lack of strategic understanding of the context of actions, the wishes and desires of strategic unity from local organizers (both inside and outside of the anarchist / leftist milieu) or the ways that these impact local dynamics.  They tend to engage in this sort of aesthetic militancy in ways that are completely out of context for the actions that they are participating in, needlessly escalating dynamics and pushing community members outside of the closed bubble of the anarchist milieu away.

“THEY TEND TO ENGAGE IN THIS SORT OF AESTHETIC MILITANCY IN WAYS THAT ARE COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT FOR THE ACTIONS THAT THEY ARE PARTICIPATING IN, NEEDLESSLY ESCALATING DYNAMICS AND PUSHING COMMUNITY MEMBERS OUTSIDE OF THE CLOSED BUBBLE OF THE ANARCHIST MILIEU AWAY.”

This generally demonstrates not only a complete misunderstanding of when militant resistance is called for, but also betrays a complete lack of understanding of localized strategic approaches to resistance, and the reasons that certain activities may be undertaken in said contexts. This lack of strategic awareness, if combined with rhetorical and aesthetic militancy and a lack of experience, creates the opportunity for newer participants to begin to engage in actions that they are not prepared without an understanding of the possible consequences of that action. By focusing entirely on the need to immediately escalate, without any attention to the strategic imperatives of specific forms of action, GLA risks putting the newer, less engaged and less experienced people within the fringes of the local scenes they tend to recruit their members from needlessly at risk of victimization by the state or our adversaries on the right.

GLA’s open talk of weapons, their tendency to show up to actions in body armor, and their tendency to present as “the most militant” also paints a huge target on their back in relation to the state.  This makes GLA a clear target for infiltration by federal agencies and local law enforcement.  While this would not be a reason to cease working with a group in and of itself, their tendency to engage in the aesthetics of escalation, combined with horrendous operational security (which we will talk about in a bit) and a tendency to work with newer and less experiences members of a community, presents a significant risk to those around active members of GLA – enough so that we in Cleveland are willing to go on record stating that we will be keeping our distance.

Horrendous Operational Security and the Illusion of Security

Since our first contacts with XX, and later with GLA formally, people in Cleveland have been generally concerned at the absolutely despicable operational security that the group has demonstrated.  The initial contact with XX resulted in them sharing information about some sort of secret organization that supposedly existed, being told the real first name of the person reaching out, and being told that they could provide money, support and information security training to individuals that they had not met or previously interacted with in any capacity.  This was followed by XX providing people in Cleveland with proof of their employment and real name in the form of a verifiably-true business card to one person in Cleveland Antifa, as well as revealing numerous details about their personal life to others with whom they have no reason to trust outside of a naive general sense of leftist camraderie.  XX and others in GLA have also been relatively open with near-strangers (including their own members, many of whom it is evident have not met each other in real life outside the context of anonymous masked action) about illegal and semi-illegal actions to others within the Cleveland Antifascist Network.  They have also generously extended this indiscretion to people outside the anarchist milieu, engaging liberal organizations in the area with talks of procuring weapons and body armor for near-strangers on their initial contact with said people.

“WHAT IS EVEN MORE CONCERNING IS THAT XX HAS PORTRAYED THEMSELVES AS SOMEONE WITH A SORT OF EXPERTISE IN OPERATIONAL SECURITY AND INFORMATION SECURITY PRACTICES.”  

What is even more concerning is that XX has portrayed themselves as someone with a sort of expertise in operational security and information security practices.  In the interest of being generous to the remains of their reputation, let us just say that when a person tries to convince others that writing their name on Facebook in Russian Cyrillic will protect them from doxxing – and who posts updates to online political fundraisers under their real name, even after creating the campaign under an assumed name sock puppet account – well, it doesn’t particularly inspire confidence in their capacity to teach good operational security.  It is clear that outside of the use of Signal chats, GLA carries out most of its organizational discussions over Facebook – a completely monitored and effectively compromised platform which has a history of collusion with law enforcement.  Members of the group are also completely willing to provide their personal contact information to people that they have no relationship with, and who they have only met online.

There are numerous problems here which would be enough for most of us to want to keep distance from a group of people.  However, the most troubling thing about these practices, and the almost total lack of any coherent operational security practices, is that XX attempts to convince others that they are some sort of expert in operational and information security.  This creates the idea that by following the practices that XX recommends that others will be able to protect themselves from surveillance, which is not only far from the case, but also which creates a false sense of security allowing for the open discussion of illegal actions on open social media platforms.  Not only are their security practices horrendous, but this false sense of security has made it incredibly easy to map out members of the group, find personal information, and even to get information and documents from people that participate in “private” Facebook groups about internal GLA operations.  From what we have seen, the tendency to default to Russian usernames, the shifting of sock puppet accounts while still maintaining the same circle of friends, the thinly-veiled opacity through which XX and others in GLA frame their discussions about internal matters with those outside of the group, gives off the air of people attempting to build opsec around what people who think they know about opsec – but do not actually understand opsec – think opsec is.

If it was this easy for people in Cleveland – who work full-time jobs, have kids and busy lives outside of antifascist work – to gain this much information about GLA and their membership in the span of just over a week of actual info-gathering, then we shudder to think about what the federal agencies have found out should GLA’s aesthetic militancy have alerted them to a potential threat.  When combined, the tendency to engage in public declarations of militancy, to openly talk about procuring weapons and body armor as declared enemies of the existence of the state, and to both encourage and brag about illegal activity, their failure to even impose a modicum of functional operational security is clearly a threat to anyone in or adjacent to this crew.

Deceptive Behavior and Inaccurate Portrayals of Relationships and Associations

It is almost impossible to know where to begin, given the layers upon layers of accusations that have been thrown back and forth between GLA and their detractors.  So, with that said, we will keep this discussion to the specifics of the local situation and our experiences with XX and GLA.  Our mistrust of XX initial was created by their willingness to make completely over-the-top claims about their access to seemingly unlimited resources and the connections that they claimed that they had.  In all of the research that we had done, and in all of the discussions that occurred, no specific evidence of the existence of this network of groups, nor of the resources that they claimed to possess, were ever produced or discovered.  For some of us, this raised suspicions immediately that not everything was at it was being presented to be by XX and their fellow crew members.

“WHEN WE TAKE THIS TENDENCY TO EXAGGERATE THEIR CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS IN THE LIGHT OF A TENDENCY TO REACT TO BEING CALLED OUT, AS WELL AS A TENDENCY TOWARD BUILDING LAYERS AND LAYERS OF DECEPTION ON TOP OF ONE ANOTHER, IT BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO TRUST ANYTHING THAT XX, OR ANYONE ELSE IN GLA, HAS TO SAY.”

The experiences that Cleveland Antifa had around Pikeville essentially cemented that suspicion.  XX, after having discussions with people in Cleveland about funding their travels to Pikeville, became difficult to get a hold of for most of the two weeks leading up to the action.  When contact was finally re-established, XX asked someone from Cleveland Antifa to relay a message claiming that the Pikeville “basecamp” was compromised to an internal organizers list from which XX was intentionally excluded.  This claim was found to be entirely baseless, and XX vanished upon being confronted by organizers and offered no explanation to their contact with Cleveland Antifa.  We have been privy to a currently unreleased Nashville Antifa internal document, which is meant to explain some of the conflicts with ARA Network from their perspective, in which they make the claim that a person traveling with the Cleveland Antifa crew told people at “basecamp” XX’s real name.  The problem is (outside of the fact that they essentially dox this person by showing their real Facebook username in a screenshot in this document) the person in question was unaware of XX’s real name at the time, which we have confirmed with the person in question.  The name given to people in “basecamp” was in fact the assumed name that XX used freely with many of the people they interacted with.

As stated earlier, we have also been able to track a number of other deceptive claims that XX and others close to them in GLA have made around their associations and pasts in the antifascist and anarchist milieu.  XX claimed, for example, they had done a lot of work with Burning River Anarchist Collective , despite only meeting a couple of members of the group once and not actually talking to them about the group.  We found that a member of GLA, who we refer to above as ZZ, attempted to use their connection to high profile members of Columbus ARA as a vouch to get involved in Cleveland crews besides GLA; when we checked in with Columbus ARA, few people knew who this person was, and everyone that did said that they were completely unreliable and not to be trusted in an organizational capactiy.

As stated above, we have come to find out that XX claimed that they had a four-hour long meeting with Columbus ARA about the ARA Network statement, a meeting which never happened, and we checked with literally everyone involved with Columbus ARA.  We have seen evidence of GLA claiming to have a relationship with It’s Going Down, based off seemingly nothing more than a handful of Facebook discussions.  GLA has also claimed this relationship with Idavox, which again consists of a few Facebook conversations and people within Idavox attempting to mediate conflicts after the ARA Network statement.  Another member of GLA (reference them as QQ) attempted to use supposed connections in Cleveland (which do not exist) to gain access to people in Cincinnatti.  XX has also used a similar ploy, saying that they have been involved in the Cleveland scene for years, which is not the case, in an attempt to either convince others to work with them or to gain access to people in other cities.

Time and time again, people in Cleveland have been contacted and asked to look into these claims, and every time – literally every time – we have found these claims of support and relationships to either be completely overblown, or entirely nonexistent.  When we take this tendency to exaggerate their connections with others in the light of a tendency to react to being called out, AS WELL AS a tendency toward building layers and layers of deception on top of one another, it becomes impossible for us to trust anything that XX, or anyone else in GLA, has to say.

General Shit-Talking

Regarding the aforementioned statement about “purity politics” in the wake of our criticism of GLA at the Charlottesville memorial, we would like to take this opportunity to eschew pettiness and rather focus on their over-the-top defensiveness in the context of the other patterns of behavior exhibited by XX and their close associates in GLA, which paints a significantly more disturbing portrait of their conduct with those who question their methods or legitimacy as an organization. The initial issue here is that GLA has a tendency to take justifiable strategic critique and well-meaning discourse as an assault on their character, and react to it in over-exaggerated, overly-politicized ways, rather than addressing it within the context of the critique.  This approach tends to mean that minor criticisms, like a criticism of them showing up to a community event in body armor, makes them unbridgeable chasms of absolute political difference couched in absolutist terms.  In this specific case, we – a crew that spans tendencies from platformists to nihilists –  was accused of “purism” simply for implying that GLA may want to take a different approach to community – and declaratively non-militant – events.

“IF WE TAKE THESE INCIDENTS INDIVIDUALLY, NONE OF THEM ADD UP TO ANY SPECIFIC NECESSITY TO INFORM THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE.  BUT, WHEN TAKEN IN AGGREGATE, A PROBLEMATIC PATTERN EMERGES…”

The problem extends beyond this however.  In discussions with others locally that have had interactions with GLA, one common thread appears over and over again.  In all of these interactions we are told that XX has told others that all of the antifa and anarchist groups in Cleveland are unreliable, untrustworthy purists that should not be bothered with, and that GLA are the only group worth working with.  This generates a situation in which newer, and often younger, participants in the anarchist milieu in northern Ohio are isolated from older, more established groups, and compelled to work with XX and GLA, without any context to make that decision.  The conversations that tend to result, which often involve confused new participants wondering why we are awful would be humorous, if the reasons for their perceptions did not all lead back to the same person, at which point it just seems malicious and an attempt to construct a bubble of isolation around their recruits which renders them immune to criticism from what they consider bad actors trying to sabotage their “Herculean efforts” toward a revolutionary uprising. As we have come to understand over the past couple of weeks, XX went about trying to recruit new participants in the radical scene through a process of shit-talking local established anarchists and offering weapons, body armor and training for these new participants.  When combined with exaggerating their operational security and information security prowess, as well as making false claims as to the relationships that they have with other groups, the conclusion has been made, and was made long ago, to not associate with XX and others within GLA.

End

Though this statement may seem long – and fucking believe us, it is –  keep in mind that this is what has arisen out very limited interactions with XX and others in GLA in both Northeast Ohio and the wider region in which GLA operates.  We do not even have an extensive relationship with XX or anyone in the group – many of us have never met them or anyone in their crew – and this extensive recounting of their behavior has been the result of glancing and tangential interactions.  What has been displayed in these limited experiences, as well as the experiences with others, is a disturbing pattern of recklessness, deception, horrendous operational security, a tendency toward an unfocused militancy and an approach which isolates new participants and places them in a potentially insular and risky environment.

“THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT EVERYONE IN GLA IS UNABLE TO BE WORKED WITH, BUT LOCALLY WE HAVE DECIDED THAT WE WILL NOT WORK WITH MANY OF THOSE WITHIN GLA, OR THE ORGANIZATION AS A GROUP.”

If we take these incidents individually, none of them add up to any specific necessity to inform the community at large.  But, when taken in aggregate, a problematic pattern emerges – not just in our own community but also in the context of incidents of nearly identical behavior reported by established antifascist groups throughout the region that have, for one reason or another, grown to distrust XX, YY and any number of their comrades who take part in their activities. This is not to say that everyone in GLA is unable to be worked with, but locally we have decided that we will not work with many of those within GLA, or the organization as a group.  We would highly encourage others to take the same approach, at least until the situation can be clarified, or steps are taken within the organization to remedy the conflict, pain, mistrust and damage that they have caused here in northern Ohio.

-Cleveland Antifascist Network

Note: Cleveland Antifa and the Cleveland Antifascist Network are not the same organization.  Cleveland Antifa is one group within the wider network that is the Cleveland Antifascist Network.

Uncategorized 11 Mrz 2018 07:40 pm

Official statement from the ARA Network: Communique on GLA Leadership

 

Adopted and Published by the ARA Network 10 – 4 – 2017 – Names Redacted

The Anti-Racist Action Network has been released by anyone, anywhere, ever. XX and YY are twins and claim to have a third non-twin sister named ZZ. Currently is the maiden name of the twins, both of whom claim to be married. No actual photo of the third sister is known to exist, nor has anyone met her in person. Currently, if it exists, so uses the screen name „Val Kyrie“, which should raise alarm bells.

XX and YY are a threat to the security of any group they join, and any action or coalition they are anywhere near. This is not a matter of personal disbalance or political differences. This is a matter of security. If they are agents of the security state, fascist infiltrators, liberal infiltrators, or politically immature people on a power trip. We can say that they are divisive, deceitful and dangerous.

We do not want to deal with them in the same room. This does not mean we will not take the same action, or refuse jail support, or solidarity. What does it mean? They are never to be privy to our deliberations or councils.

They have been to gain entry into multiple groups, offered resources and withdrawn them at critical moments, spread rumors, snitch jacketed other activists, and used their positions in groups to gain entry yet more groups.

XX and YY began operating in Antifascist circles this February in Nashville, Cincinnati and Cleveland. They did this initially through a group called „Rebel HQ“ which appears to have been created by them alone.

One of them joined our Nashville chapter and one joined Antifascist group in Cleveland. They each use their position in one group to make the other twin into the other group. Cincinnati Anti-Racist Action using the other two twins as their vouch. No picture of this third sister, with or without the twins exists. No one has physically tested. Currently, she is a sock puppet of one of the other two. When confronted with the disappearance of proof of the existence needed.

One of the twins entered the Nashville group with intelligence and a „private“ VPN to conduct communications through. Thus they began by attempting to have singular control of all incoming, outgoing and internal communications of all organizational business. This was a red flag.

Pikeville, the Nashville group was offered for sale in the run-up organization for the large action group. This all raised red flags. It was later determined that YY’s husband works as purchasing officer for the State of Tennessee. We suspect this is an attempt to get arrested with illegally transferred arms and stolen body armor on the eve of a major action.

At the same time, the other offered the Cleveland group financing for a travel van.

When YY was confronted about the body armor and weapons offer in Nashville, XX began spreading the rumor in Cleveland that the base camp for Pikeville was “no longer safe.” When asked how she knew, she responded that this information had come from Nashville ARA, which was not true. The Cleveland group was left stranded and scrambling for a ride the action with only a few hours to re-engineer their logistics. YY has disappeared.

Both YY and XX claimed to be “victimized” by members of Columbus ARA who compiled information and compared stories between Nashville, Cleveland and Cincinnati in order to verify vouches and identities. When the twins realized that communication between groups and networks was happening not through “secret and private” servers that they alone controlled, the began a campaign of disinformation and snitch jacketing against the members of Nashville ARA that initially questioned the wisdom, truthfulness and sincerity of their actions and offers.

Nashville ARA is a chapter in good standing within our network and we have zero reason to believe that the various whispers of drug addiction, violence, and snitching that have recently appeared in the organizing lead up to Charlotte NC on December 28th have any merit whatsoever.

Our members have been accused of turning people over to the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of Charlottesville. The problem with this lie is that there have been no arrests, and there is zero proof. In tracing these allegations, we have seen zero written documentation. People have only “heard.” No organization, real or fictitious, responsible or disorganized, and no single person, has committed any allegations to print or email that we have even received a screenshot off.

Persons working with the twins have refused to provide screenshots of emails or texts even with names redacted. This is snitch jacketing. This is disruption.

We do not know who these people are. We can not say for certain what their real identities or motivations or goals are. What we can say without hesitation is that they are deceitful, disruptive and we do not want them around.

They are in danger of becoming real, They are a security risk to militants, and their offers of assistance disappear in a cloud of read. They are a clear danger to the antifascist movement and all people’s movements as a whole.

We do not work with them and we do not want to work with anyone who returns their phone calls. We do not work with groups in coalition with groups.

In Solidarity,

The Anti-Racist Action Network

All Chapters Endorsing

Uncategorized 11 Mrz 2018 07:31 pm

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