Protestors welcome alt-right leader Richard Spencer at his new NOVA office
On March 11, just hours before Purim (the Jewish holiday commemorating one of the thwarted extermination attempts) a large group of protesters got me in the spirit early, gathered for “No Nazis in DC: Protest Richard Spencer’s Think Tank,” organized by the DC Resistance Coalition outside of Old Town Alexandria’s town hall.
The DC Resistance Coalition is, as their facebook states, a “coalition to prevent the spread of nazi, white supremacist, fascist or other violent ideologies in the Washington, DC area.” The group was started by Noah Baron with co-organizer Gabe Lezra.
“I’m Jewish and gay, and Gabe (my co-organizer) is Jewish as well,” said Baron. “And we both find Mr. Spencer’s rhetoric very troubling. He says he essentially wants an Aryan-only United States and given our heritage we recognize the danger of that sort of rhetoric.”
President of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer has recently rented a satellite office in Old Town Alexandria as a think tank for himself and like-minded white nationalists.
Spencer coined the term “Alt-Right,” a discernibly genteel rebranding of fascism and white supremacy that often targets Jews as well. He said in an interview with Kelly McEvers on NPR’s All Things Considered, that “European people were the indispensable central people that defined this nation socially and politically and culturally and demographically.”
He also was famously punched in the face by a passerby on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
However, the noxious rhetoric toted by Spencer is not as revolting to a surprising number of people – uhere is a large community proudly owning the “Alt-Right” moniker. Though, significantly concentrated on social media and white power forums, the overtness of this rhetoric is noticeably growing.
A surge of confidence and validation has seemed to strengthen nationalist rhetoric in the wake of the new administration. Trump has half-heartedly denounced the support of the Alt-Right and said, “if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”
This less than self-aware disavowal, in despite of choosing Steve Bannon, the former head of Brietbart News which describes itself as a home base for the alt-right, as his Chief Strategist.
“This is the first time we’ve really entered the mainstream, and we’re not going away,” Spencer told NPR. “I mean this is just the beginning. And I’m very excited.”
This confidence is exactly what the DC Resistance Coalition means to oppose.
“They’re trying to normalize themselves,” said Baron of the DC Resistance Coalition, in between chants outside of Spencer’s new Alexandria office. “Trying to depict themselves as if they’re pretty standard in the mainstream of political discourse. So you do things, you organize events like this specifically aimed at this type of organization, then they try and paint us as intolerant when the reality is it’s not normal – it shouldn’t be considered normal.”
The group of protesters peacefully assembled at the Alexandria Town Hall to listen to public speakers including Delegate Mark Levine, D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, and the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition.
Following the speeches and an acoustic live music performance, the Anti-Fascist Coalition organized the mobilization of the crowd in procession toward King St where Spencer’s office sits above a chocolate shop, Bluprint Chocolatiers.
“Chocolate yes! Nazis no!” the crowd chanted.
The protesters stood under the covered windows of Spencer’s office taunting between chants: “It’s just a few snow flakes!” or “Come speak to the tolerant left!” All that was missing was a bottle fingered David Patrick Kelly goading, “Spencer, come out to play.”
It didn’t seem the protesters expected Spencer would be at the office that day, but it was rumored that he was seen entering the office about fifteen minutes before the crowd began marching from town hall.
After having collected outside the building for some time, chants became a little more ad-libbed – they even threw in some “Fuck Donald Trump” chants, because you gotta play the hits.
Truly, as much as Trump would like to distance his perceived conservative movement from the Alt-Right or white supremacists like David Dukes (without losing their support, of course), there is no denying the two are connected.
“Trump definitely energized the Alt-Right,” Spencer said in an interview with the Atlantic Review. “Trump is a white nationalist, so to speak, he is alt-right whether he likes it or not,” Spencer said in an interview on The David Pakman Show.
Along with contending the normalization of the Alt-Right’s hate speech, Baron said these protests are also important in coming together as a community and standing by those most affected by white nationalist rhetoric – to show marginalized people that they are not alone.
“There will be 100, 150 people show up on a day when it’s 32 degrees out and windy and let people know that the white nationalists are not welcome,” he said.
Top image via DC Resistance Coalition
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