Opinion: Right-wing provocateurs are disrupting anti-fascist meetings

Provocateurs from the far right are coming to UC Berkeley to livestream and disrupt leftist groups with whom they disagree.

“Heather Heyer died of a heart attack.”

Those are the words of a team of far right, livestreaming provocateurs who attempted to disrupt a meeting of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) on September 7th at 8PM. (See video at 39:20.) The ISO was holding a club meeting in a reserved classroom in Dwinelle Hall on UC Berkeley’s campus.

The right wing website Campus Reform, which specializes in smear campaigns against progressive scholars, published an article denouncing a different left wing organization’s meeting in Berkeley to organize against Milo Yiannopoulos and other far right provocateurs on campus. Campus Reform’s followers planned to disrupt this meeting, and two groups took the lead. (See video at 28:06, discussing the Campus Reform piece.) The first is the Red Elephants, a right wing media group that distributes doctored videos to justify far right violence. They also interview and promote white supremacists like Nathan Damigo and Jason Kessler. The second group is Liberty Hangout, a libertarian media group whose followers believe that white genocide is real.

This team of right wing groups tried and failed to find the meeting of this other left wing organization, which they planned to “infiltrate.” (See video at 28:06.) They wandered around campus and eventually found the ISO’s meeting, which was unpublicized. (See video at 40:26.) A member of their team, whose student group has invited Yiannopoulos back to UC Berkeley, came into our meeting. (See video at 40:47, sitting down in the plaid shirt.) He repeatedly lied, identifying himself as an unaffiliated student, and attempted to gather information about the identities of ISO members. (See video at 10:45, discussing this member gathering “intel”.)

The other members of the right-wing team, live streaming and wearing racist clothes, were turned away at the door due to their obvious goal of provocation. (See video at 6:45, discussing “Border Patrol” and “America First” clothes.) They attempted to force their way into the meeting, threatened to call the police, and then accused the ISO of being fascists and terrorists. (See video at 1:20, 1:30, 2:27; see video at 5:20.) They denied the neo-Nazi murder of Heather Heyer by claiming she died of a heart attack. (See video at 39:20.) The right-wing team continued live streaming our members despite repeated statements that we did not consent to be recorded. (See video at 4:18.) They refused to clear the area outside the classroom’s door so our members could safely leave, even after requested to do so by a university worker. (See video at 4:53; see video at 9:00.) After trying and failing for half an hour to disrupt the ISO’s meeting, the right-wing team retreated.

The ISO has been at the forefront of the fight back against the far right in the Berkeley. We helped organize the thousands-strong protests against Donald Trump on January 20, Milo Yiannopoulos on February 1, and white supremacists on August 27. We will not cower in the face of provocateurs. Unlike the Nazi apologists who tried and failed to disrupt our meeting, the ISO stands in solidarity with the family of Heather Heyer and the movement she fought for. We must all be anti-fascists now.

Mukund Rathi a law student UC Berkeley and a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO).