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A Reportback From Joey Gibson Rally/March

This is a brief reportback from the Joey Gibson march. Unfortunately, I arrived quite late and missed the rally and beginning of the march. So my report only covers the march from about Pine Street (where it turned around) and the group discussion.
When I arrived, tensions were high, but nothing seemed to escalate in any serious way. Although it was difficult to distinguish the two sides because everyone was mixed in amongst each other in the crowd, it appeared that the numbers were about even. There seemed to be about 50 people for each. The march was very slow moving as it stopped often for debates along the way. At times, the debates became heated and some shoving happened. Police were nearby, but largely remained hands off and out of sight. Not having police involved seemed to keep the situation more calm than usual. At this point, most people also just seemed worn out, a little bored, and ready to wrap it up.

There were the usual cast of characters out for Joey Gibson's march, including racist skinheads and the violent street preacher group that had attacked a person from the Trans march on June 19th (an online video, that went viral locally, shows Gibson participating in this attack). Anti-fascists would point them out and then various people attending Gibson's march would either try to deny their politics or change the subject or claim that they had asked them to leave. At no point did attendees support antifascist efforts to pressure the known bigots to leave and often they intervened on their behalf. The racist skinheads and the street preachers appeared to have freedom of movement within the march and were often engaged in banter with other attendees. Nothing indicated to me that they were not welcome by Gibson's march.

From a bystander perspective, one of the more confusing aspects of this event might be the strange mix of messaging. A "civil debate not civil war" sign could be found next to a "you need helicopter rides" (a historical reference to fascists murdering political prisoners by dumping them from helicopters) sign with the sign holder screaming "we're going to give you helicopter rides!". Some attendees were claiming to be there to express support for the Republican party and insisting that they are not racist. One attendee repeated over and over that he can't be racist because his wife is black. However, one has to wonder what they think the words "racist" or "fascist" mean as these claims fell apart pretty quickly when the political debates occasionally meandered into the details. For example, immediately after claiming that Trump's Muslim ban is not a ban on Muslims, march attendees explained their support for the ban: Muslims and people of color are supposedly engaging in a genocide against white people through being allowed to have more children than the average white person typically produces. Their fear being that white protestant christians will become a minority and this will bring about sharia law in the US. This failure to recognize racist and xenophobic politics was a common feature of the debates.

The march ended back where it began at the Salmon Street Springs, by the Blues Festival, where debates carried on as numbers dwindled and the sun set, until around 9:30pm.

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