Despite feigned media shock about anti-semitism in Los Angeles, they’ve been here for a while. The community — not the police — is going to get rid of them.
On Friday, October 21, anti-fascists in Los Angeles successfully shut down an underground metal show in Atwater hosted by neo-Nazis. Word began spreading online that afternoon when the event’s address was shared on Instagram, and the post included the phrase, “Victory will be ours again.” After the post went viral on Antifa Twitter, the neo-Nazis apparantly decided to can the show.
The shutdown was a win for denying fascists the ability to take over space in our community, and it was a real blow to their ability to organize offline. Fascists in Britain notably used their own punk shows in the ‘80s to organize, recruit, and fundraise with events like “Rock Against Communism.” The National Socialist black metal “Asgardsrei Festival,” held annually in Kyiv, actively serves as a networking event for neo-Nazi groups all over the world, including US based terrorist organization Atomwaffen.
This event is also not the first time a far-right group has tried to congregate in LA. In 2018, white supremacist group, “The Proud Boys,” met up at The Griffin (RIP lol), also in Atwater. When word got out, organizers from groups like NOlympics and Defend NELA showed up and ran them out of town.
As a consolation action, several neo-Nazis dropped banners featuring antisemitic messages over a 405 overpass the next day, October 22. One banner referenced Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who has recently made antisemitic comments. Another included the URL for the Nazi group’s website. Many large Twitter accounts began sharing photos of the banners with the website link unredacted.
Those accounts and the media portrayed the banner drops as a show of Nazi power —like some kind of sign that LA is becoming a place where they feel comfortable holding actions. The coverage failed to acknowledge the reality that (1) there has been a Nazi problem in Southern California for a long time and (2) years of antifascist activism in the city has made it extremely difficult for them to organize here. What may have been a large public gathering along the LA River was relegated to an impromptu banner drop by a handful of fash.
That isn’t to say our work is done. Ideally the culture in LA will be so toxic towards neo-Nazis that they won’t even feel safe enough to try pulling off an action like this. Still, it’s important to note that it was a far cry from the concert they had initially planned. And it is important to note that the first event was canceled by the efforts of the community. Not the LAPD, City Council, Chamber of Commerce, or business improvement districts. Additionally, it would have been much more useful for concerned parties with large platforms to speak out against antisemitism and facism BEFORE an event like a Nazi metal show happens — instead of in reaction to a banner drop after the fact.
The Los Angeles Times ran a piece about the banner drop which made no mention of the show planned the night before. It also quoted heavily from right wing Los Angeles City Council candidate Sam Yebri as an authority on antisemitic hate speech. His more progressive opponent, Katy Young Yaroslavsky, was not mentioned at all. She has since released a statement condemning the action. While both candidates are Jewish, only Sam has compared the DSA to the KKK for supporting Palestine.
The Times also included, for free, a photo of Yebri holding an antisemitic flier that neo-Nazis left outside his home on the Westside. On the flier, QR codes and the group’s website are clearly visible. According to the Los Angeles Times’ website, advertisements start from $13-$1,530.
This is reminiscent of a controversy in my hometown when the local paper got into hot water with residents by printing a photo of a flier that had been posted by white supremacists. The paper ran the flier with its message and the white supremacists’ contact information unredacted. They claimed the entire content of the flier was newsworthy, including the phone number. In this instance, the photo was on the same page as the paper’s cartoon duck that gives the weather reports. The county that paper serves is 1/100th the size of LA county.
The framing in the piece by the Los Angeles Times also seems to imply that Ye inspired the action. However, the metal show was likely planned well before his comments were made. While Ye’s remarks are deplorable, he has hardly invented antisemitism in Southern California.
Recently resigned LA City Council President Nury Martinez was just caught on tape making antisemitic comments. The antisemitic George Soros conspiracy theory was evoked by many of those behind the recall effort of LA District Attorney George Gascón, including LA County Sheriff Villanueva.
Unlike the police’s violent treatment of the Los Angeles left when they hold actions, the police were wearing kid gloves when they finally showed up to the overpass. I don’t know why the right gets treated differently. I do know local law enforcement has a history of containing neo-Nazi gangs though.
Furthermore, we still don’t even know how many LAPD officers attended the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, in spite of the fact that City Council asked them to provide that information in early 2022.
On Halloween, Californian antifascists demonstrated that racism, antisemitism, and transphobia will not be tolerated in our community. A “West Coast United Against Fascism Day of Action Statement” was held, where they dropped their own banners on overpasses across LA and California, including the one targeted by the boneheads last week. Twitter account SoCal Antifa (@socalantifa) released their own statement about the action, accompanied by a number of photos documenting the action. I encourage you to check out.