Extreme right attempts, fails to hijack Richmond gun rally

On the 20th of January, tens of thousands of gun owners gathered near the VA state Capitol to lobby against proposed new gun laws, some warned while wearing rifles that gun confiscation would be resisted by force. While tens of thousands protested the proposed gun laws, extreme-right groups from Trump campaigners to neo-Nazis and a few Confederate flag wavers tried and failed to overshadow or take over the rally.

With fears that neo-Nazis and other extreme-right elements would turn the Richmond gun rally into “another Charlottesville,” someone dropped a banner reading “Remember Heather Heyer” over I-95, the main approach route to Richmond from points north or south. The Governor used it as an excuse to declare a state of emergency, ban guns etc from the one-block across square below the state capital, and funnel the crowd into a fenced pen. With all the tension, a single backfiring car engine or foolishly set off firecracker could have triggered a deadly stampede, with fleeing rallygoers piling up at the fences and being trampled.

For all the visibility of the Trump campaigners and the interviews given to media outlets about civil war, the majority of participants were there only to lobby and protest against the package of new gun laws newly-elected Democrats want to enact in Virginia. This is comparable to a similarily huge pro-choice rally after the GOP takes over a state and seeks to ban abortion and birth control: While hard-core revolutionary groups are guaranteed to show up, most of the marchers are just there to oppose the offending package of legislation and nothing more.

While there were a lot of Trump supporters in MAGA hats etc there, every time they tried to get pro-Trump chants going the far larger overall crowd refused to chant with them. Trumpers were common enough to give the rally the appearance of a Trump campaign rally, but the behavior of rallygoers said otherwise. The Trumpers were the most numerous right-wing “other than guns” people present, but nastier and more violent folks were also on the scene. One group of militiamen made threats against an Indymedia reporter, describing him and using the words “black bike” over their radio communications network. This particular cluster was on foot and were unable to deliver (short of opening fire) on their threats against a much more mobile bicycle-riding camera person.

In addition to the “bad apple” militia that made threats, Jovi Valle showed up along with several Proud Boys and they were confronted by anti-Fascist activists. Jovi Valle is a known Holocaust denier, made remarks denying the Holocaust, and earned an article in rawstory.com about both his Holocaust denial and the heckling he earned for it. The antifa activists were on the scene both patrolling for Nazis (who event organizers attempted to order to stay away), and also because many anti-Fascists themselves do NOT want the government disarming the general public. The current US government has an all but open fascist in the White House, the GOP largely an overtly fascist party, and hate crimes are the highest they have been in decades. Many consider disarming the public in the face of this sort of governmental behavior to be a suicidal risk.

Reality check: it takes more than vegan potlucks to keep an armed fascist government OR armed fascist militas from putting children in concentration camps. It also takes more than just owning weapons. It takes training, it takes organization, and more. The far-right has gone well down that road already, and many of them (as they said openly in Richmond) are preparing for outright civil war in the way anyone prepares for war. Both mainstream gun owners and members of the extreme right were showing off their firepower in Richmond on Jan 20, and so far by comparison we have never had a march of 20,000 Van Spronsons with rifles in hand, warning ICE to keep their hands off the children.

All too often, we of the Left hold bake sales while the Nazis and Fascists are at the gym, the dojo, and the gun range. If the civil war spoken of by some of the worst right-wing elements in Richmond or in the media ever does pop off, that kind of “preparation” will put progressives at a dangerous disadvantage. It was reported that members of the John Brown Gun Club and/or Redneck Revolt participated as individuals in the mainstream gun rally for exactly this reason: people in social groups subject to hate crimes and roundups need their weapons. There were signs denouncing gun bans as racist and as dangerous to transgender folks. For trans sex workers, being able to carry a gun without fear of arrest for it would go a long way to get control of the extreme risk of being murdered they face, a risk possibly more than that faced by any other social group in the so-called “United States.”

Video: fascists including Jovi Val make fools of themselves at the Richmond gun rally 2 min 19 sec

The man here with the rifle gave an interview about possible civil war in the US to a number of media outlets

Huge numbers of people opposing proposed Va gun laws queued up to get into the main rally’s fenced-off “protest pit”

Many progressives and anti-capitalists also oppose gun laws, which are disproportionalty used to lock up people of color. Here in DC is a notorious example of such laws and incarceration

“Gun Rights are Trans Rights” sign refers to need for effective defense against extreme murder risk faced by transgender folks

On the other hand, Jovi Val and some of the Proud Boys showed up spewing hate-in defiance of organizer’s demands that they stay away

This particular militia directly threatened an Indymedia reporter, and reportedly threatened other people as well.

Trump supporters were everywhere-but found themselves unable to get the crowds to take up their pro-Trump chants

This drone was operated in defiance of an FAA drone ban driven by fears of weaponized drones. May have been a cop drone. Shooting it down would have risked a deadly crowd stampede, so if it was not a cop drone cops could do nothing

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4th annual Women’s March takes to the streets amid scattered right-wing crazies

On the 18th of January, the 4th annual Women’s March took to the streets for a march all the way around the White House. Far-right counterprotesters included antichoice banner holders shut down by a single pair of anarchists, and some Alex Jones supporters (and supposedly Alex Jones himself) in an armored truck.

The starting rally featured a performance of the “A Rapist in Your Path” theater piece. It was performed a second time after the march broke from their official route to stop by Trump Hotel

TThat armored truck used by Alex Jones and his minions raises concerns about possible use of armored fighting vehicles by extreme-right/white nationalist milita elements in Richmond on Jan 20. This will be exactly three years after J20, one year before J20/2021, two and a half years after Charlottesville. The FBI and police agencies have caught some of the dumber Nazis with illegal automatic weapons and other banned hardware who are calling for violence, but the “smarter”(in a relative sense) fascists might not even be known to the FBI. Some for that matter could be inside the FBI, inside the Virginia State Police, or inside the Richmond Police Department.

Video-scenes from the Women’s March including the right-wing extremist counterprotesters 1 min 42 sec

Women’s March participant calls Trump a “Shithole President”

Gathering for the march as Trump Hotel looms in the distance

The march begins

Anarchists with a banner block the view of a gory anti-choice banner. The antichoice banner was soon furled up and removed by its owners as it had been made ineffective.

Armored vehicle used by Alex Jones supporters to counterprotest the Women’s March

Another view, same sorry excuse for a tank

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11 arrests in Hart, Russell buildings in Remove Trump “Swarm the Senate” protests

Since Jan 6, Remove Trump has held daily “Swarm the Senate” protests on Capitol Hill demanding the Senate remove Donald Trump from office. On Thursday, Jan 16, these protests escalated to civil disobedience and 11 arrests as Senators were formally sworn in for Trump’s post-impeachment trial. A conviction on either article of impeachment removes him from office.

There were six arrests in the Russell Building, and another 5 in the Hart Building. At one point, protesters entered the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding he recuse himself from the trial presumalby as he is simply too close to Donald Trump.


Video from the Hart Buildind disruption originally posted to Twitter by Andrew Worthmann(14 sec)

Protesters march to the Senate Office buildings for the Jan 16 Swarm The Senate protests

45 Removal Squad in the house (actually the Senate)

“Trump is Guilty” banner in the Hart Senate Office Building (Photo by Remove Trump)

The article in the US Constitution concerning impeachment on display in the Hart Building atrium (Photo by Remove Trump)

Protesters demand Mitch McConnell recuse himself from Trump’s impeachment trial

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ShutDownDC drops climate emergency banners all over DC

In AM rush hour on the 13th of January, ShutDownDC dropped “Climate Emergency-no time for business as usual” banners from overpasses all over town. Banners were visible from the SE-SW Freeway, K st, Rock Creek Parkway, and many other locations as dispersed teams dropped dozens of banners simultaniously.

ShutDownDC is the same group that shut down most downdown DC traffic on September 23, 2019 demanding action on climate change and continuing extraction and use fossil fuels. Police apparently knew in advance about the banner drops (due to web postings on strikedc.org presumably) but limited their interference to removing banners after they had already been seen by thousands of passing motorists. Possibly they expected more than banner drops given their numbers and behavior.

Video-deploying banners over the SE-SW Freeway and Rock Creek Parkway 1 min 19 sec

Banner on a K st overpass near Washington Circle

Banner over the SE-SW Freeway

The Se-SW freeway banner was visible to the traffic seen here from behind

Setting up a banner over Rock Creek Parkway/Independence Ave

The Rock Creek banner

At least one Metro station also got a Climate Emergency banner

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Anti-torture protesters march on Trump Hotel demanding closure of Guantanimo Bay

The 11 of January, 2020 was the 18th annniversary of the opening of the gates of Hell at Guantanimo Bay by George W Bush. Protesters marched to Trump Hotel bearing nine coffins for nine detainees who have died there, and one more for whoever is next to die from the atrocious conditions at Gitmo. Trump has vowed nobody will be released from there no matter what.

At the Lafayette Square rally prior to the march, some of the activists remarked that with no court review, Gitmo essentially holds the President’s private prisoners. Witness Against Torture and area antiwar groups renew the demand for closing Guantanimo Bay every Jan 11, on each anniversary of its opening.

There are still 40 detainees at Trump Hotel. Some of them have been there so long cells have had to be modified to accomodate wheelchairs as they get older and develop health issues from the brutal conditions. All are esentially Trump’s own private prisoners, inherited from Obama and from George W Bush before him.At least some detainees were released under Obama, Trump has halted the process. Remaining inmates are now boycotting their status review hearings, since it is clear no possible outcome will cause Trump to let them go.

Video-coffin march on Trump Hotel demands Gitmo close forever 2 min 2 sec

Witness Against Torture and antiwar activists rally in front of the White House demanding Gitmo be closed forever

The march departs the White House

The march nears Trump Hotel

Marchers laid these coffins at Trump Hotel

At Trump Hotel

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Rally at Capitol supports vote under War Powers Act to deny Trump Iran war authority

On the 9th of January, antiwar members of Congress and a number of antiwar activists spoke before a substantial rally in front of the US Capitol. They were there to pump up support for a War Powers Act resolution to require Trump to seek authorization from Congress prior to any further military action against Iran. The resolution pass the House 224-194 on mostly party lines shortly after the rally.

The Senate takes up the resolution probably in the week beginning Jan 13, though the GOP may be able to block passage there to support their “Glorious Leader” Donald Trump.

The War Powers Act resolution to deny Trump war authority in regards to Iran unfortunately is considered nonbinding under Supreme Court precedents presumably more recent than the post-Vietnam passage of the War Powers Act. On the other hand, as a nonbinding resolution it does not require Trump’s signature, thus denying him an othewise-certain veto.

If Trump starts an all-out war with Iran, he will be committing the United States to a major conflict at least as long and at least as troop numbers intensive as the Vietnam War. If the War Powers Ac resolution passes the Senate and Trump starts a war anyway, he will be entering this major war over the express opposition of the US Congress and should expect problems with things like getting funding for it.

Video:the basics followed by in-depth speeches by an antiwar veteran and an Iraqi-American 5 min 28 sec

Supporting a War Powers Act resolution against Trump’s expected Iran War

Anti-torture protesters in town for the Jan 11 anniversary of the opening of Gitmo marched into the rally

The rally continued after dark

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Hundreds march on Trump Hotel against potential US-Iran war

On the 4th of January, hundreds gathered in Lafayette Square to oppose Trump’s reckless aggression and brewing war with Iran. At the conclusion of ANSWER’s rally at the White House protesters marched on Trump Hotel. This was just one of dozens of simultanious antiwar protests across the US.

The following day, WTOP Radio reported that the government of Iraq has ordered all US troops to leave Iraq. What had actually happened was that Iraq’s parliament had voted to expel US troops, though this has not yet been signed into law by Iraq’s prime minister. This was is in response to evidence that Iranian general Soleimani may have been lured to Iraq by the US specifically so he could be assassinated by Trump’s drone strike. The response from Trump has been to threaten sanctions against Iraq if they dare to require US troops to leave.

Video: the march at Trump Hotel 7 min and 1 sec cut from longer Anya Parampil livestream

Still from Anya Parampil video

Photo by Brett Aronow

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