#AllOutDC Activists Criticize Police for Protecting 'Proud Boys' Over Black Lives

“Thank you for coming out, and thank you to the police as well for supporting us.” These were the first words uttered by the first speaker to kick off the self-described “Demand Free Speech” rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, July 6. The rally was organized by The Proud Boys, an all-male group self-described as “Western Chauvinists” and part of a “pro-Western movement.” Event organizer David Sumrall praised the DC police for their support: "They really have our backs on this. Police are here to support and protect us."

On this point there was mutual agreement by #AllOutDC activists, a much larger coalition of anti-racist counter-protesters across the heavily policed streets. At the outset of the #AllOutDC Rally in DC, organizer Nee Nee Taylor noted: “Look how they’re protecting them. Let’s be clear. I want you to watch for yourself. [The police are] protecting them, but they’re patrolling us.”

April Goggans, a core organizer for Black Lives Matter DC--who is currently suing the DC Police Department for unlawful monitoring and surveillance--said this is nothing new. “There are 32 independent police departments in DC,” Goggans told the crowd. “We have more police per capita than any city in the United States. People get their doors busted down.”

When asked why they showed up at the rally, several #AllOutDC organizers and protesters said their focus was on the police in DC--not The Proud Boys.

“While the Nazis may be out here today, the police are in our neighborhoods every single day extending white supremacy and anti-blackness," said Nnenna Amuchie, an organizer from Black Youth Project 100.

"So we’re out here today to show solidarity in a multi-racial Black led coalition of folks who said ‘f--k that, f--k the police.’" Then she concluded: “I need folks to know that cops and KKK go hand in hand.”

Judging from the many “Cops and Klan go hand in hand” and “Black Lives Matter” chants, the message was well-received by #AllOutDC protesters.

While the day's conflicts and skirmishes tended to get the most headlines, the primary #AllOutDC response was to have a GoGo Party, an act displaying how the Proud Boys rally would not steal DC joy. It was also part of an ongoing #DontMuteDC anti-gentrification campaign that is crushing DC’s GoGo tradition. “I’m not here to fight,” Taylor told the crowd, “I’m here to get my GoGo on.”

Nazis came to DC and a GoGo Party broke out! #DontMuteDC #MuteTheAltRight#AllOutDC #MuteWhiteSupremacy pic.twitter.com/meC183ciZC

— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) July 6, 2019

The GoGo Party was one of many of the more creative counter-protests by the #AllOutDC coalition that received less attention. The DC Chapter of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence also used hand fans to drown out a right-wing media host antagonizing the #AllOutDC crowd.

In direct contrast to the Proud Boys, #AllOutDC counter-actions reflected the broad DC coalition of groups of varied philosophies, identities, and tactics under a unified goal of combating fascism. “Solidarity is an action. It’s not just a word. People can show up as their full selves here. That includes all of our family. That includes all queer folks, trans folks, Muslim folks, Black folks, femme folks,” Goggans told the #AllOutDC crowd. “And that also includes Antifa," Goggans continued. "Antifa is short for Anti-fascist. Because if you’re not anti-fascist, you can go over with the fascists on that side.”

Unlike Antifascist protesters, many have noted that far right extremism has produced over 600 deaths and 3000 injuries since 1990. However, right-wing disinformation campaigns have still equated a few instances of non-deadly acts with white terrorism. Unlike the Charlottesville marchers, “the other side” claimed they were not fascists, and only there to “demand free speech.”

When asked about this issue, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an expert and activist, noted, "They demand free speech for themselves and themselves alone. That’s why they attacked the man for burning the flag in front of the White House a couple of days ago. This isn’t about free speech.”

Jenkins, Founder and Executive Director of The One People’s Project said the primary distinction between The Proud Boys and openly-proud Charlottesville Neo-Nazis is cowardice.

“They are fascists, plain and simple,” said Jenkins, after listing various examples of the actions by founder Gavin McIness and The Proud Boys. “The Proud Boys want to play fast and loose with the terms, which is why they call themselves 'Western Chauvinists.' They are who they are, even if they are too cowardly to say who they are.”

But the greatest #AllOutDC critiques throughout the day remained focused on the police. Many noted the previous day’s July 4th parade where DC police were seen giving The Proud Boys friendly fist-bumps. The police also escorted the white supremacists to Harry’s Bar while receiving chants of “Blue Lives Matter.” Other videos showed #AllOutDC protesters being pulled to the ground by police.

By the end of the day, when there was a physical altercation between two opposing rally-goers, the police swarmed and arrested an apparent Antifa member--but not the man from The Proud Boys' rally. In the most charitable interpretation across many videos, both men were aggressors.

Taylor, who was right next to the altercation, said, “The police swarmed and took the Anifa guy, and the white supremacist has gone about his business. And the aggressor is set free while they got the Antifa guy locked up. They’re here to protect white supremacists.”

Taylor’s reaction echoed the day’s consistent theme – the DC police chose to protect white supremacists over Black residents. “The DC Cops' unprofessional behavior on July 6 at the Freedom Plaza needs to be investigated,” she said in an interview with The North Star. "But that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she continued. “In recent years, the DC police have gotten away with killing Terrence Sterling, Jeffrey Price, DQuan Young, Marqueese Alson, Jovan Hall, and so many others. Not only can we not get any justice, but now we see them protecting white supremacists,” she added.

For #AllOutDC protesters, the day was merely symbolic of the problem with DC policing. “We’re out here today just like everyday,” says Amuchie, “as Black folks we are under attack by Trump’s presidency [and] by the DC police that spends over $500 million dollars every year policing, patrolling, harassing, violating, harassing, and sexually assaulting Black folks in DC and across the country. This is just another day in our lives.”

About the Author

Chuck Modiano is an educator, journalist, and youth advocate dedicated to exposing power, oppression, and privilege in sports and policing. He has amplified marginalized voices at protests including Ferguson, Baltimore, Standing Rock, Selma (#50), and Charlottesville. He is currently a sports columnist for the New York Daily News, and has been a contributing author to “Killing Trayvons” and “Football Culture and Power.” Follow him on Twitter @ChuckModi1.