Pride confronts Nazis

June 26, 2019

From the July-August 2019 issue of News & Letters

Detroit—Participants at Detroit’s Motor City Pride March on June 8 were shocked and horrified to confront 15 armed Nazis in full regalia, surrounded by a cordon of mostly Black Detroit police officers. Mainstream media did not report on this story, largely leaving it to social media for reports, photos and videos. The events reveal the serious threat of fascism and the limitations and divisions within identity politics when class differences, the power of mass movements, and historical memory are disregarded.


Some of the many who were not Nazi’s at the Motor City Pride March at Heart Plaza Downtown Detroit, June 2019. Photo: Davslens Photography.

Nazis had threatened in April to disrupt Pride Day: “NSM [The National Socialist Movement] will be armed and counter-protesting the freaks,” wrote their self-identified “commander” on Russian social network VK. Nazis marched, thanks to a police escort, through downtown Detroit during the Pride festivities.

The organizers of Motor City Pride asked citizens to “leave it to the Detroit Police,” but the Metro-Detroit Political Action Network reported: “Three members of the houseless community joined the front line in trying to stop the [Nazis], but were shoved aside by [police] riot shields. A fuming unified bloc of Antifascists and Pride goers shouted ‘Class traitor!’ at the cops and ‘Who do you serve, who do you protect?’ and began shouting ‘Queer Power!’”

“A ‘Nazis Are Scared’” chant caught on…NSM only managed to disrupt Pride proper for 10 minutes and Detroit proper for 20, five spent cowering in a van.”

One Black activist raised serious questions when he posted, “We should have been informed…” He was echoed by another questioner: “Shouldn’t people have been notified so a unified and strategic community response could have been organized as it was in Dayton last month when the KKK came to town? Why wasn’t a formal statement declaring zero tolerance for hatred issued by the city? Why the false equivalency that equates citizens verbally protesting fascism with armed Nazis? Wasn’t pushing a woman to the ground assault? Taking a stand against fascism should be the work of all citizens and not just a few. I wish the city had trusted the good people of Detroit and beyond to come together and fashion a broad-based response. As Mama Lila [Cabbil] often said, ‘Silence is violence.’”

—Detroit observer


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