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.

 

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