North Idaho Pride After Action Report Back–RedoubtAFA
This is the after action report from Redoubt Anti-fascists concerning what happened leading up to and during the North Idaho Pride event Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene Idaho June 11, 2022.
Anti-fascists traveled to North Idaho to help defend the annual Pride in the Park from fascist assault. Not only is it important that gay pride events not be threatened by those who wish death to LGBTQ folks, but also because nazis must always be confronted. Nazis must not be allowed to feel safe anywhere. Those of us who remember North Idaho and Coeur d’Alene (CDA) when the Aryan Nations were around, we know on a very personal level just how important it is that nazis not feel safe enough to begin operating openly. These nazis who protested North Idaho Pride believe the same as the Aryan Nations. Not only are both groups nazi, but both groups advocated a PNW white ethnostate. Many if not all the nazis who protested gay pride in CDA are advocates of what is called the Butler Plan, which is a plan for a nazi take over of the PNW named after the Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler.
*This is but one viewpoint from one researcher/activists, it does not encompass the full experience or story of those who worked to the best of their abilities to make sure North Idaho Pride would be free from fascist disruption so that attendees could celebrate their gay pride as safely as possible. Please see other after action reports as they are published on Its Going Down and Idavox and elsewhere.
Background: The Events Leading up to North Idaho Pride
Antifascists associated with the RedoubtAFA research project closely monitor the social media postings of regional neo-nazis and other far right actors. We had been paying attention to neo-nazi and Unite The Right Charletsville VA attendee Vincent James Foxx and his anti gay fear mongering, pearl clutching moral panic posts regarding trans rights and queer liberation, which had started to pick up steam in the first few months of 2022. The concern with loud-mouth bigots like Vincent is not necessarily what they do themselves, because they rarely leave their house, but rather who they inspire and what those people and groups might do. Most of Vincint’s anti gay posts concerned various events outside of the so-called redoubt region of Montana, Idaho, and Eastern Washington and Oregon that we monitor. Then, on April 13, 2022 Vincent posted about North Idaho Pride in Coeur d’Alene (CDA). North Idaho Pride has been an annual gay pride event in CDA for a decade and a half, although it took a break in 2020-2021 due to Covid and related public health concerns regarding large crowds. It is important to note that many fascists such as Vincent James Foxx and David Riely (another UTR Charlitzville attendee) have moved to North Idaho in the 2020-2021 time period that the annual gay pride event was on temporary hold.
As soon as we saw Vincent’s April 13th post, we began to monitor neo-nazi and other far right chanels and chats for evidence of anyone paying attention to Vincentt. Another important context is that Vincent had been increasingly losing followers and relevance; we viewed much of his anti gay fear mongering posts as a sad attempt to try and stay relevant within the increasingly anti-gay and particular anti-trans landscape of the far right.
On April 14, 2022 we noticed something that was extremely concerning: A number of neo-nazi fascist groups actually noticed Vincent’s post about North Idaho Pride and decided that they, as organized neo-nazi groups, needed to act. Without Vincent James calling attention to North Idaho Pride it is doubtful any of these other fascist groups would have had any idea the annual pride event was happening. Of the neo-nazi that we found citing Vincent James’ April 13th and 14th posts about North Idaho Pride and then calling for organized opposition against gay pride in CDA were individuals we knew to be associated with various racist skinhead crews, some up and coming neo-nazi groups (we will have information about these soon) and the known neo-nazi organizations White Lives Matter (WLM) and Patriot Front (PF). Among those we found supoprting the idea of a unified neo-nazi organized protest against North Idaho Pride were previously identified Patriot Front leader Colton Micheal Brown of Ravensdale WA, AKA John WA, who is the Network Dirrector for the PNW (NW8) which includes North Idaho, as well as previously identified Idaho White Lives Matter leader Terren McKinney.
Our Behind the Scenes Response:
By April 14th/15th 2022 we knew there would be organized neo-nazi opposition to North Idaho Pride, including Patriot Front and WLM. We immediately began informing fellow antifascist researchers as well as those community organizations in North Idaho that might be most negatively impacted by the arrival of multiple crews of nazis, most we knew would be traveling from out of state. Although we knew that out of state nazi groups like Patriot Front were intending on protesting North Idaho Pride, we did not know at what capacity they would be doing so. We were as surprised as anyone to see that Patriot Front decided to try and pull their ‘load in the back of a rental truck and jump out for a flash mob’ stunt. A stunt that spectacularly failed.
With the knowledge of organized fascist opposition to gay pride in CDA, we significanlty increased our observation of these fascist groups. Reminder, these nazis want all LGBTQ people dead. We knew both because of the history of neo-nazi and far right anti gay attacks as well as the threats and causual calls for violence against LGBTQ people we observed within chats and social media comments, that the potential for violence was very real.
The situation reached a particularly important climax when the explicitly neo-nazi groups began to reach out to non-nazi far right militia organizations such as the Panhandle Patriots Riding Club. The Panhandle Patriots Riding Club (PPRC) is a reactionary far right motorcycle militia group based in North Idaho. They have been on our radar for years, with all members known to us, and we have observed them patrolling the southern border with fellow militias such as Veterans on Patrol, as well as their highly publicized role in violently storming the U.S. capitol building on January 6th 2021. However, in North Idaho PPRC is perhaps best known for organizing with other militia groups and reactionary alt-fascists such as the Proud Boys to parade around CDA in 2020 with a bunch of guns looking for antifa. Based on objectively false and quickly discredited rumors created by alt-right trolls on Twitter that Antifa and BLM from Seattle and Portland were coming to burn down towns across Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. CDA was rumored to be the first stop on this imaginary tour of destruction. PPRC and others showed up to the streets of CDA heavily armed. When nothing happened (because of course, there was never ever any leftists coming to do anything whatsoever), the PPRC congratulated themselves and declared victory. Relevant, the PPRC has also acted as “security” for regional Christian Nationalists who think way too much of themselves, such as Matt Shea.
Ever since these June 2020 anti BLM gun marches, the PPRC has had a gun rally in June to celebrate their imaginary victory against non-existent antifa and BLM. Without knowing at all that there would be a gay pride event in CDA on June 11th, the PPRC planed their second annual anti BLM, anti-antifa gun rally. After learning the PPRC was planning a gun rally on the same day as North Idaho Pride, the nazis reached out to them to see if PPRC was interested in combining their pro-gun anti-antifa/BLM rally with the neo-nazi anti LGBTQ rally. Our sources within the PPRC informed us that not only did nazis reach out to them, but that those nazis who did so had friednly relationships with various members of the PPRC and that the bikers, including leader Mike Birdsong AKA Viper were fully aware that those planning the anti gay rally were full fledged neo-nazis who advocated for the extermination of all non-aryans (including LGBTQ) and the creation of a white ethnostate in the PNW. To reiterate, Mike Birdsong of the Panhandle Patriot Riding Club not only agreed to change the annual gun rally to be a armed anti LGBTQ rally, but that he agreed to do so in order to rally alongside people who knew to be hard core neo-nazis. This is important because the PPRC publicly declares itself to be opposed to racism and yet they were more than willing to change all of their previous plans in order to join nazis and protest with guns the long running annual gay pride event in CDA.
Knowing this history of PPRC, with their violent behavior and their zero hesitant approach to grabbing a bunch of guns and taking to the streets, it was extremely concerning to see them agree to protest North Idaho Pride along side explicitly neo-nazi organizations. During this time we actively kept community organizations in the loop as to what was being planned behind the scenes. We continued to use our sock accounts to plant seeds of doubt and distrust, to tone down the violent rhetoric. However, we could have never done the damage to this nazi/biker militia coalition that the Panhandle Patriots themselves did. After agreeing to join the nazis, the PPRC decided to give some highly threatening public statements. The violent threats they made of course brought attention to them that the nazis did not appreciate. We worked behind the scenes to explain to reporters, community partners and others what was happening so that folks would have a more complete picture of everything even though we were not taking any of this information public at the time. The next thing we knew, Mike Birdsong decided to throw his nazi allies and friends under the bus, giving an interview badmouthing White Lives Matter. We can only imagine this made the nazis rather upset because the next thing we saw was those fascists attacking PPRC with some nazis calling up Mike Birdsong and others to ask why he changed his mind about working with them (the nazis). The next thing we knew, the PPRC had significantly toned down their rhetoric and changed their event from a gun event to a prayer rally that was to be located in a separate park. Credit goes out to Mike Birdsong for pissing off his nazi friends and publically throwing them under the bus, while also attracting significant public attention to the anti gay protest plans. Although he did agree to work with nazis knowing full well they were nazis, he also broke up that alliance with the nazis in a way that we don’t know if we could have done through disinformation campaigns alone.
Direct Response: Organizing in a Decentralized Manner
By the end of April 2022 we knew there would be individuals from a variety of neo-nazi organizations planning to protest North Idaho Pride including but not limited to Patriot Front, White Lives Matter, the Asatru Folk Assembly, Peckerwoods, and a not publicly known nazi group which had been on our radar for some time, the Vinland Rebels, as well as various racist skinhead groups and other assocrted nazi fash. Those nazis were planning to join together to distribute anti gay propoganda, to rally, and otherwise disrupt the peaceful, family friendly gay pride event with their hateful, fascist presence. Due to the groups involved, we knew the situation would be volatile with an incredible potential for violence. We also knew that there would be other anti gay protests from the militia crowd including Panhadle Patriots as well as the Christian Nationalist who weild an outsizesed influence in the region. Particularly concerning of the many Christian Nationalists we knew would protest North Idaho Pride was Matt Shea and the other violent bigots connected to the Marble Fellowship Christian Identity/Nationalist cult in Eastern Washington such as the Fire and Ice Ministries. Although Matt Shea and Marble Fellowship have a well documented conection with neo-nazis, going back to the founding of Marble as a Christian Identity church connected to Aryan Nations, we were as supprised as anyone to learn that the son’s of Matt Shea’s head of Security Matt Buster were Spokane WA Patriot Front members Mishael and Josiah Buster.
All in all, we knew there would be a broad coalition of neo-nazis, Christian Nationalists, hate preachers, American First alt-right groypers, militia members and armed bikers, and general reactionary bigoted far right individuals converging on CDA from a multi state area in order to protest the annual North Idaho Pride. As anti-fascists we do not have faith in the police or the state to keep communities safe from the threat of organized white nationalism and fascism. However, we will be the first to admit the police response far exceeded our expectations; other departments can learn to perhaps stop violent fascists rather than provide them police protection as is usually the case. That said, we have no doubt that months of behind the scenes action in terms of monitoring and advising community partners of the fascist threat that was increasingly growing against North Idaho Pride played a significant role in the fact that police took the threat of violent fascists seriously, which is not something that typically happens.
We are very familiar with North Idaho and the engrained paranoia and hatred of leftists by a very vocal albeit likely minority of the community, which has increased significantly since 2020 with the fear of antifa and BLM as well as the vast growth and spread of conspiratorial thinking surrounding covid myths and the spread of Q anon. We knew anti-fascists needed to be on the ground in CDA but we also knew we could not make a call to action without giving the far right fuel to feed the fire of paranoia. What happened instead was that as we spread the information of the fascist threat in CDA through back channels, individual activists took it upon themselves to answer the call and to do the right thing as they were capable. Both activists currently living in the region of North Idaho and surrounding areas, as well as those who have historical roots and connections to the CDA and North Idaho community, decided in a fully autonomous manner to talk to their friends and neighbors and come together in small groups or as individuals to travel to CDA to help defend North Idaho Pride. How this was done and organized is important: Never at any point was there any plans to disrupt the North Idaho Pride event. As word spread through underground channels about the full extent of the nazi plans to disrupt pride, other anti fascist folks from around the nation made plans to go to North Idaho simply to document. Our plans were to do everything we could to disrupt the nazi organizing before hand, and then to be there in a way that was obvious to the fascists but much less obvious to everyone else.
We can not emphasis enough the difference between nazis and other fascists traveling from out of state and those leftists, commonly described as Anfita, who also traveled from out of state. Those nazis had no connection to the community and they traveled with the explicit purpose of harming those who live in CDA. The anti-fascists who traveled had historical connections to the region, many born and raised in North Idaho and others were from the general region with friends and family still living in CDA and throughout the region. Moreover, and this is equally important to emphasize, there was no top-down organized effort to bring leftists to CDA. What there was were a dozen or so individuals who saw the evidence of an organized fascist and neo-nazi assult on gay pride in CDA, who then felt a moral obligation and compelled to go to CDA on their own to help defend a community they had connections to and other wise deep feelings for, from this assault from the far-right. The nazis told other nazis they needed to protest North Idaho Pride; the anti-fascists took it upon themselves to help defend gay pride from this attack. The only people who traveled to attack CDA were members of the far right.
The Day Off: On the Ground in CDA June 11th 2022
About a week prior to the North Idaho Pride in the Park event, we were on the ground in CDA checking the area. We removed racist and hateful fascist stickers, we got a feeling for the lay of the land and took note of entry and exit routes throughout the general area.
The day of June 11th, we arrived in the park near the bandshell around 9-9:30 am after also checking out the general area around the library, lake front, and downtown streets. We immediately noticed a significant police presence as well as a mobile command center set up. It was obvious there would be FBI, DHS, CDA police, Idaho State Patrol, Kootenai County Sheriffs and possibly other law enforcement agencies as well. As experienced anti-fascists, we can recognize a fed or plain clothes cop a mile away. In general the presence of police, particularly the feds, makes us uncomfortable due to the well documented, long history of political persecution of left wing activists by the state. In this situation, we knew the threat that fascists posed, that there was a significant safety concern for pride attendees, and that the police had an obligation to protect the legally permitted pride event from disruption. We also knew the police would not hesitate to arrest us if they believed we were causing a disruption. We did not know at what level they would consider an action disruptive, since it was immediately obvious that fascists carrying large weaponry while walking around falsely accusing parents of pediphilia was not considered disruption. That said, we ignored the police. The police were not in any way shape or form a concern of ours. Our focus was to document the organized fascist activity and to do our best standing between the fascists and the pride attendees.
We arrived in the park in the morning and also observed lose groups of nazis walking around. Some were easy to recognize (the siege masks that are used by accelerationist neo-nazis were sort of a dead give away). Others we did not know right away they were nazis, but monitored them for their associations and activity until we could more or less narrow down who was a nazi, who was a libertarian gun caryier, and who was just a person watching the event out of curiosity. One tactical and strategic decision each of us had to make was whether or not to wear a mask. Outside of North Idaho, wearing a mask while at a crowded event during a global pandemic at a time when cases are rising might not seem like a particularly controversial thing. But, again, we are familiar with the area. All of us who have worn masks in North Idaho during covid have at one point or another had people threaten us for doing so. Wearing a mask puts a target on you even if it is due to covid concerns and not due to safety concerns regarding hiding identity from nazis. Each one of us had to make that decision ourselves: attract negative and even hostile attention by wearing a mask, but also protect your identity; or, blend in better with the crowds but risk your face ending up on nazis camera footage. As the events began, we walked around and introduced ourselves to those organizing activities and to the people volunteering at the various event and group booths. The nazis made it so obvious who they were they’re really wasnt much need to explain to people who they were, but we did mention to certain event volunteers that we would be monitoring the fascists to the best of our capacity. We received far more thank yous from the pride event volunteers, people working at booths, and regular pride attendees than we did insults and threats from the fascist cowards who lurked in the background surrounding pride.
As more and more people began to filter into the park for pride festivities, the event table and info booths opened up and performances began on stage. Now, some history, the Aryan Nations used to rally at this exact same park, Richard Butler stood on the very same bandshell in 1999 giving the sieg hiel “hitler salute.” At that time, there was a significant “antifa” protest against the nazis, and people physically and dirrectly confronted, fought, and otherwise challenged the nazis in the street forcing them to alter their plans, change routes and eventually leave. Twenty-three years later we watched as drag queens took to that same stage where Butler once stood. Those queens denounced hate, and called for peace and love while only yards away neo-nazis and fascists stood, gathered around the park bandshell with fingers on triggers and spewing hate under their breath. The queens looked out at all the love of the pride attendees, all surrounded by a layer of fascist hate on all sides, and called for people to challenge that fascist hate by celebrating their identity, their gay pride, even louder, to dance harder, to fly the rainbow flag even higher. It was obvious at that moment the neo-nazis, christian hate preachers, and other fascists and reagtonary bigots had lost. No matter how many guns the far right carried, no matter how much hate speech they spewed, no matter how many threats they mumbled under their breath as they walked past people, no matter how much they tried they were never going to be able to intimidate people. In 1999, anti-fascists outnumbered and eventually shut down the nazis in CDA. In 2022, drag queens took to that same stage that nazis had once occupied. The nazis who showed up to counter protest, intimidate, and try to cancel pride were once again outnumber and shut down. While this time they weren’t shut down by confrontation and fighting, they were instead shut down by the giant fuck you that is the collective middle finger given to them by all those who refused by be threatened and intimidated, who showed up to the pard to celebrate their pride in the face of armed fascist opposition. It was impossible not to recognize the significance of that movement when we realized that no matter what else might happen that day, the nazis dispite all their attempts at building a hate coalition, had lost. On the ground that day as well as writing this up a week later, it’s hard not to get emotional.
As the day continued, the cycle of events sort of became repetitive in terms of monitoring the fash. There were the main pride events, with live music, drag queens, and a DJ and dancing. That was the bandstand stage and the grass in front of the stage where people danced and sat watching the performances. Then there was behind that area, still facing the stage, booths for various community groups supporting North Idaho Pride, activity and event booths, and then some delicious food trucks including an assemble your own cupcake bar that was particularly delicious. Then, surrounding all of that was basically a rim of hate and potential violence. Hate preachers with banners, libertarian militia types with guns (some of whom claimed they were there to protect pride as well as protect the anti pride protesters. Libertarians are confused), and then legit hard core neo-nazis. The nazis were our primary concern. Most of the time the nazis would walk around the outers of the event, lurking in the background. One heavily armed lurking nazi was suspicious enough in his full camo poncho and face covering that even gun loving, libertarian media fan boy Ford Fischer thought the dude was a suspect and a bit much. Then, after an hour or more after festivities started, more nazis showed up. The lurking nazis joined with these new nazis and began to enter directly into the main area where pride festivities were happaning. These nazis began walking around the various booths and around where people were dancing distributing hate speech flyers with false “facts” about gay people. These flyers were nothing but printed off versions of old Vanguard America flyers. Considering the events that would later occur, it is worthwhile to note that Patriot Front is a break off nazi organization that grew from Vangaurd America following the deadly Unite The Right nazi rally in Charltsville VA. After UTR, Tommy Rousseau took the Vanguard America servers and used them to establish a new nazi group that he could then be dear leader of, Patriot Front.
We observed closely these nazis passing out their flyers, even got them to give us some for our collection of fash garbage. We removed the flyers the nazis would place at various booths. Eventually these nazis realized no one really wanted their flyers, nor did anyone want to listen to them explain that when they achieved their white ethnostate in the PNW they would kill all gay people. The nazis mostly then stood around the edge of pride watching the drag show with what we can only assume was a bunch of confused self hatred (if you think drag queens are grooming children, which they absolutely are not, then what does that make you the bigoted hater who stands around watching those queens while lurking behind trees and bushes?).
For the most part people ignored the fash. This is what was recommended by the drag queen host, and non confrontation is what the organizers of North Idaho Pride advised. The thing about guns is it really makes the fight unfair if one were to break out. However, there were a couple of older ladies who everyone got a kick out of as they followed the armed nazis around commenting loudly about how those men must be overcompensating for something. Other anti-fascists would stand in front of the nazis banners with umbrellas open to block the hateful, homophobic massage from being seen by those attending pride.
We continued to monitor and observe, we walked around the general area of the park and went over to the library where white nationalists Vincent James and David Riley were hanging out. We went around and removed Patriot Front hate stickers. While removing a PF sticker, we were stopped by the CDA police who wanted to know what we were doing. We explained that we were removing from a sign a hateful sticker from the neo-nazi group Patriot Front, and explained who Patriot Front was and what they stood for. Surprisingly, the cops thanked us for the explanation of the group, saying they did not know it was a nazi organization, and then thanked us for removing the stickers and wished us a nice rest of the afternoon. By 12 noon, after taking down several Patriot Front stickers, we discussed how it was unusual we hadn’t yet seen Patriot Front. We knew they were planning on being there. There was one nazi who looked like Patriot Front, at least had the distinct white face covering around his neck. We figured that the local North Idaho and Washington PF members might just be out of uniform.
As we walked around we noticed Matt Shea and his followers signing hymns off-key and walking down Sherman Ave. Matt Shea is a fascist Christian Nationalist who is incredibly dangerous. We have since learned that his head of security is the father of two Patriot Front nazis. Several times we were asked by passers by and even the police who it was leading the procession, and we explained it was Matt Shea and talked about how Shea was considered to be a domestic terrorist by his own republican party. One individual we explained who Shea was to, turned around and yelled at the cops for allowing such a terrible man to parade around with a crew of armed followers. We observed Matt Shea heavily guarded by militia members and what appeared to be Panhandle Patriot Riding Club members. While we followed Matt Shea and his procession of christian nationalist weirdos as they walked towards the park where North Idaho Pride was occurring, we also noticed Shawna “Butterfly.” Shawna is a Panhandle Patriot Riding Club member who frequently is in Arizona patrolling the southern border. She is one of the people behind the far right extremist Telegram channel Border Warz. She also participated in the attempted neo-fascist, anti democracy coup in WA DC on January 6, 2021.
Following Matt Shea and PPRC back to the park, we split off observation of them to go back to observing the neo-nazis who had once again unvailed their homophobic banner. We joined with others to help block the banner from sight of those attending the pride events. This was about 1:30 PM. This was also the time we observed multiple police, particularly sheriff deputies running towards Northwest Blvd. As we were deciding whether or not to follow those cops we learned Patriot Front had shown up. That is when we hurried off to where the flashing lights were. We arrived to see over twenty Patriot Front members lined up near the road with their hands zip-tied behind their backs. At this point, it should be mentioned, the sun started to shine brightly. All day it had been overcast and raining, now it was sunny. The police informed us of the boundary we could not pass, which was that we could not go onto the grass and had to stay on the sidewalk. That was totally fine with us, because we were still within five feet or so of the nearest PF member and still less than 20 feet away from where the police were unmasking PF members one by one. We watched and photographed as each one of the PF members was unmasked and put into a paddy wagon. We heckled them and generally laughed with the others from the general public as we watched these nazis being humiliated. We knew Patriot Front was planning on being in CDA to oppose North Idaho Pride, but we had no idea that national leadership, including founder and leader Thomas Rousseau, would show nor did we think ever that they would attempt their ‘gather in the back of a rental van and all storm out to flash mob’ trick that has failed every time they attempt it. Usually they get out of the rental van only to get beat up by comunity members who don’t want nazis in their neighboorhood. But this time, a CDA local called the cops on suspicious activity after seeing 31 masked men get into the back of a u-haul with sticks and shields. The police responded to the call by pulling over the u-haul and arresting every person inside. It is unknown what the arrival of PF would have done to North Idaho PRide had they not been stopped by a community member who, for all we know, thought he was calling the police to report antifa. Patriot Front on their own are a minimal threat since they loose every fight they start and usually just stand around taking propaganda pictures.
The nazis had already lost, no matter what might happen they could never change the fact that their ideas were entirely rejected by the majority of people in CDA. But, Patriot Front could have significantly changed the dynamic of the event. The arrival of 31 nazis wearing colors would have at most been a compounding event. While the attention has been focused on Patriot Fron, for good reason, there were more dangerous nazis at North Idaho Pride who spent the entire time in the park, holding guns, and starring down pride attendees. A potential major problem that was avoided with Patriot Front being arrested was less that they would have run around doing sloppy shield formations and more that they would have likely caused regular pride attendees to become more vocal in their opposition to the nazis, which then could have inspired the other heavily armed nazis to come to defense, with the end result being significant fighting and probable shots fired.
Luckily that is all speculation and we never had to deal with that outcome. Instead, we all enjoyed ourselves watching Patriot Front get unmasked. As we watched PF being unmasked, we chatted with some well known locals including those known for making a fuss and stirring up fear about Antifa coming to town. It was a surreal moment, one that has now been lost in the chatter online, where us as masked-up anti-fascists were friendly chatting and laughing at these nazi losers along side people who normally spend time posting false panic about Antifa being terrorists and how Idaho needs to be defended from these leftists. But, in that moment, as we explained that we were people who are from the region and have a deep understanding about neo-nazis, and how we came to help document and defend North Idaho Pride from nazi attack, there was just a moment when we were all on the same side saying fuck you nazis. That moment has passed, and none of those people will admit to being friendly with Antifa just as there will be those on the left who will critique us for being friendly with this reactionary conservative crowd. But, for just those few minutes, we were all on the same side again. It harkened back to those community protests against Aryan Nations when democrats and republicans, leftists and libertarians would come together to make it clear that Nazis were not welcome in Core d’Alene.
Connections with the community are key. Listen to event organizers. We at no point wanted this to be anything but what it was, which was a pride party. We were there to support pride and to protect pride attendees. We have experience and skills in emergency medical aid, de-escalation and conflict negotiation, as well as a knowledge of the various fascist groups and a fairly good idea as to how each group would act. We did not just jump into this without preparation and would not advise others to take such risks without experience and local knowledge.
Be peaceful and friendly. This was not about fighting nazis. Could we have held our own in the event of a fight, sure. But that would have turned the event away from a gay pride party and to a nazi fighting party, we did not want that. Instead, we introduced ourselves to as many people as we safely could, participated in the activities, and made some friends. As a side note, black bloc is just a tactic, black is only a color used because most people have black clothing. The point isn’t to be dressed in black, it is to blend into a crowd so as to be less recognizable. Bloc can be done in any way, including normie bloc. Dress like everyone else. But if you wear a mask, be careful when you take it off. And, have a separate change of clothes, including changing shoes.
Decentralized action. While several leftists (maybe 20 but honestly we have no real idea and that’s the point) did travel to CDA or at least come out in support, we did not ever learn who those people were. Again, people took it upon themselves to do what they believed to be correct in the manner they were able. Due to the decentralized nature of left wing activism, we did not have a full idea of who would show in CDA or what they would do. We met with some, but did not meet with all. This is less of a strategy than a necessity due to finite resources and the long history of state repression against left-wing activists. (For all the far rights complaining that the government is out to get them, they have had it incredibly easy). However, while it also means is that if anything were to happen, such as large scale fighting or events of that nature, it would be harder to pursue criminal conspiracy charges, it also makes it harder to support comrades in times of need. Decentralized activism is a form of security and protection, but it has its drawbacks. Have plans, connect with locals as much as possible, and always be prepared for nothing to go as planned. Have a meet up location for if shit hits the fan. Park where you can get out fast. Cover you plates if need be. Remember, you’re not hiding from the state in this sort of situation, you are hiding from nazis who do not have the recourses of the state. And, the goal first and foremost is safety.
Remember cameras and that lots of people are watching. For these family friendly events with lots of general public, one cannot just tell people to stop filming so be prepared to be on film. Spread out, don’t be afraid to be alone. Try and always be moving. Cover as much ground as possible, and film and photograph everything. You will only get one chance to take that picture. Focus pictures on those in the background. The major activity will be covered by others, look for those who are trying not to be seen.
Establishing connections as early as possible with the local community is vital. Also, the goal of traveling from elsewhere always has to be one of support. Activists cannot be seen as taking over an event. Beyond that, be ready for any possibility or outcome. And, be ready for nothing to happen. Don’t try and start anything if nothing is happening; nothing happening is a major win. Be prepared to connect with people. Other folks will come up and ask questions, often us activists have answers no one else does. We spent the entire time watching PF get arrested both heckling the nazis as well as explaining to the crowd that was gathered who Patriot Front is and why it was a problem they had traveled to Idaho. Remember, do not be dismissive of peoples questions. The majority of people gathered around the PF arrests believed they were feds or antifa. We explained the best we could that they were neo-nazis based in Texas. A successful strategy was to have people use their phones to look up Patriot Front, so they just weren’t taking our word for it. Eventually, as more and more people gathered to watch the arrests, word sort of spread that we were the ones to talk to for info.
Be nice, make connections, earn trust, have fun, and always confront and challenge nazis–remember that such confrontations and challenges take very different forms depending on local and time and environment. Know the area, play to your strengths and don’t let the bastards get ya down.