From a local anti-fascist organizer, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Every Friday in Sunland-Tujunga, a small neighborhood in Los Angeles 15 minutes from Downtown, a group of violent Neo-Nazis and fascists meet under the guise of a Blue Lives Matter/All Lives Matter/Trump rally. They assemble out front of a Big 5 on Foothill Boulevard from around 11 AM to sundown, and have been doing so since the start of the George Floyd uprising. Their hate has been countered by members of the local community since day one; Early demonstrations would have 2–3 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters standing across from a group of 10 violent fascists. A larger counter demonstration occurred on June 19 2020 (Juneteenth), a day the fascists had a particularly large gathering.
Fascist organizers Luke Vella (a known member of many hate groups) and Randi Berger (a landlord with ties to hate groups) were joined by Shirley Marinaccio of Sunland (who gave a Nazi salute to the BLM counter protest) and Brendan Recor (a Neo-Nazi YouTuber who orchestrated the chemical attack on a demonstration in Huntington Beach), as well as known members of the terrorist group Atomwaffen Division, hate group National Socialist Vanguard, and Peckerwood biker gangs. The fascist side had about 20–25 members, the BLM side had about 30. There were a few altercations and scuffles; Luke Vella assaulted a teenage girl and destroyed her “Fuck Trump” sign.
The next Friday the local community and the anti-fascist community got together to organize a large counter demonstration. We had over 80 participants and the fascists stayed in their cars, too scared to show their faces. Luke Vella drove past the BLM demonstrators in his dark Tahoe, flying Trump flags and yelling the N-word with a hard “R.” He was joined by members of the Gordt family in their older white Mercedes Sedan. After a successful and peaceful march through the neighborhood behind a “Smash Fascism” banner, our group disbanded.
In response to us scaring them into their cars, the organizers of the hate rally — especially Randi Berger — got very active on Facebook. They called for violence against BLM protesters, including vehicular assault. Over the next few weeks things seemed to be at a stalemate; The hate rally had the same 25 or so people, and the counter protest had the same 25–30 people. Space was made for those who wanted to dialogue with the other side, yet there can be no constructive dialogue with fascists, and often those who attempted it would return to our side in tears, traumatized or re-traumatized by the experience. A particularly harrowing example was when a woman in a MAGA hat said “prove that you were raped” to a Black woman who had shared her assault story, and how it related to Trump’s discussion about and treatment of women.
The fascists have recently been escalating by taking space on our side of Foothill, which led to us organizing for more support from the local area and the wider community. On Friday July 31, there was a large showing of anti-fascists, and the fascists responded by calling in a false report of someone shining a laser pointer at them (at 3 PM, on a sunny day, in Los Angeles). An anti-fascist burned a Blue Lives Matter flag and was arrested violently by LAPD for it. The LAPD then attacked anti-fascist demonstrators and journalists, arresting a demonstrator and sending her to the hospital, and breaking the ribs of another demonstrator.
This police violence was followed by more attacks from the fascists. Fascists spat on a community member leaving the shopping center who had flipped them off through the open window of her car, and then started attacking her vehicle — but were forced to back off by anti-fascists. Members of the Gordt family then started driving by the anti-fascists in their dark grey Dodge Charger, swinging a Trump Rambo flag. This was countered by a splash from an open water bottle into the vehicle. In response to getting wet, they got out of the vehicle and called the police as more fascists came across the street — including one armed with a baseball bat. Scuffles ensued: A chud in a MAGA hat shoved an anti-fascist and another chud who was in American flag pants sucker punched someone. The community members and anti-fascists then went to the local jail to await the release of their comrades, which happened early the next morning. They are facing felony charges, and donations can be made to their legal defense here:
Last week we had a strong showing and a street party/BBQ to show the fascists in and out of uniform that they cannot scare us. Those who where injured and arrested all came out and stood together with some of their family members. We outlasted the fascists who had to walk their motorcycles home after running out of gas. There were minor tussles but our numbers kept the chuds in check.
All this week, members of the community have been putting up flyers informing the community of the racist hate groups gathering in front of Big 5. We are planing another large showing for all who think Nazis have no place in LA this Friday, August 14, starting at 4 PM.
Disclosure: Ashley Bennett worked with the unhoused residents of this PRK site to write this letter. She is a founding member of Ground Game LA, which is affiliated with Knock LA.
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