Richard Spencer Gets a Not-so-Warm Welcome at Auburn University, Alabama, April 18, 2017

Introduction

On Tuesday, April 18, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer (of the National Policy Institute and Altright) gave a speech at Auburn University in Alabama, which is less than two hours away from Atlanta. Anti-racists mobilized against this event and, shortly after the end of Richard Spencer’s talk, students angrily escorted Spencer’s white power followers off campus and chased some of them through the streets of Auburn.

In the run-up to the Tuesday event, Spencer’s forces blatantly organized for violence on campus, using scarcely veiled language of assembling “safety” squads, and urging racists and far-Right anti-communists to travel from far and wide to invade the campus. On the actual day, the far-Right ended up having a hard time, with their attempts at aggression met with compelling responses from students and other anti-racists. While white nationalists predictably declared a victory, this verdict was informed by delusional claims about the day. For example, racist claimed that their members were not really chased off campus so much as followed, and that their forces “drastically outnumbered” anti-racists. Such messaging from white nationalists, combined their focus on waging war on anti-fascists in the aftermath of Tuesday, suggests that they are in fact unhappy about how the day went.

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Spencer’s Visit Approaches

Richard Spencer used a Youtube video to announce that he would be speaking at Auburn just under a week before he was scheduled to appear on campus. Before Spencer’s announcement, an Alt-Right “White Student Union” for Auburn had launched a website and begun circulating antisemitic flyers on campus, attempting to cultivate a climate of intimidation on campus. Anti-racists including our organization began circulating news of Spencer’s visit to Auburn soon following his announcement – since events at Auburn were part of regional coordination by Alt-Right white nationalists, we believed that anti-racists should likewise treat this event as a regional concern since a victory at Auburn would affect all of us as people living in the South. While the state-friendly anti-extremists of the Southern Poverty Law Center urged students to avoid and not confront the racist mobilization, several Auburn students shared our view that fascist organizing prospers when left unopposed. A Twitter account was established by Auburn students opposed to racist organizing, and a call for loud, vocal opposition to Spencer’s visit was released. Atlanta Antifascists solicited endorsements from other anti-racist and leftist organizations for the call to action. At this point, the situation began shifting rapidly.

The first change came on Friday when Auburn University canceled Spencer’s booking, citing concerns over student safety. While we were happy that white power organizing had hit a roadblock, it was also clear that actions of the sort taken by the University, could just as easily be used against leftists and anti-racists in the future. For this reason, appeals to cops, courts, or other authorities have never been at the center of our work as anti-racists.

Richard Spencer issued a furious response to the University, claiming that Auburn would “rue the day” they made this decision, and stating that he would fly in key white nationalists for the Auburn event as well as organize squads equipped with “safety gear.” (Shortly before Spencer announced his Auburn visit, he had discussed the formation of a “white bloc” to take on anti-racist opponents.)

Denied a room on campus, Spencer stated that he would hold a rally of some sort anyway, the constant subtext of his statements being that organizing far-Right forces to go after enemies on campus would be a fine alternative to a speaking engagement. Amongst those Spencer flew in for his event was Mike Peinovich AKA “Mike Enoch,” operator of TheRightStuff website as well as “The Daily Shoah” podcast. In the days to come, other far-Right formations mobilized to descend on Auburn: Identity Evropa, Brad Griffin’s “Alt-South” network, Anti-Communist Action, the Traditionalist Worker Party, and the League of the South (who took on a security role.)

The other major escalation took place on the other side of the country, where on Saturday the 15th far-Right forces (including open white supremacists) clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Berkeley, California. This event, portrayed by the far-Right as a victory, emboldened more far-Right and white nationalist forces (including some of the groups listed earlier) to pledge to be at Auburn with the hope of routing their enemies in a brawl. Just as in Berkeley where organized far-Right forces used “free speech” as a pretext to organize violence and attempt to control territory, in the days as Spencer’s Auburn visit drew near, his coalition was increasingly brazen about wanting to control the turf with violence.

(A war of posters and counter-flyers also broke out on campus, with anti-racist flyers against Spencer’s visit being countered with fake “Antifa” flyers as well as White Student Union materials portraying militant anti-racists as troublemakers willing to attack random bystanders.)

While Spencer’s forces organized for a physical fight, Richard Spencer also pushed through legal channels for his event to go ahead. On Tuesday afternoon, mere hours before the event began, Spencer announced that he had obtained a court order compelling Auburn University to allow his speaking event to proceed as initially scheduled. Spencer’s case had been argued by Atlanta white nationalist attorney Sam Dickson – a fixture on the racist scene nationally — on behalf of Cameron Padgett, a student who had made the booking for Spencer’s visit using a Georgia State University (Atlanta) email address.

Foy booking exhibit from lawsuit
Foy Hall booking, exhibit in Sam Dickson’s lawsuit

Tuesday Afternoon and Evening

The court order changed the scene. Had Spencer held an outdoor rally in defiance of his cancelled booking, our expectation was that this mobilization would be combined with bands of white power/“Alt-Right” militants ready to street fight and to target those they saw as enemies (for example, people of color, Jewish students, or leftists.) Alabama “Alt-South” organizer Brad Griffin later wrote that Spencer’s court victory was in some sense also disappointing for him, because with the changed situation “I wouldn’t get a chance to fight and win a bit of glory for myself […] in […] an epic throw down.” Griffin’s claim clarifies what the far-Right forces mobilizing for Spencer had in mind shortly before the court made its ruling. With the court ruling, however, they’d have to queue to go inside a room, being scanned with a metal-detecting wand beforehand.

Students came out in large numbers in response to Spencer’s speaking event, with some protesting outside, some attending Spencer’s talk to press him, some by contrast taking a “no platform” approach, and others merely checking out the scene. Into this situation, leftists and anti-racists from several parts of the South also arrived. The fascists who from mid-afternoon onward were spotted in bands around campus, took position at the venue for Spencer’s speech, separated from protesters by police and barriers.

It was a solid week of organizing by anti-racists — students of various political persuasions as well as “outsiders” to Auburn like our organization — which enabled a powerful response to Spencer’s assembled forces. From our perspective, some things went far better than others. At Auburn, the black bloc – a tactic originating from radical Left and anarchist movements in Europe during the second half of the 20th Century – was generally a shit-show, although the fact that networks activated and anti-fascists traveled to attend was itself a positive. Auburn Police were extremely aggressive in targeting anti-racists who were wearing masks or bandanas (to guard against later harassment by the far-Right.) By contrast, white supremacists obscuring their faces were occasionally told to remove masks but overall, were not aggressively targeted. It is to be expected that the police, whose unions overwhelmingly endorsed Donald Trump’s right-wing populist presidential campaign and who generally protect a racist status quo, will typically side with organized racists over anti-racists.

Anti-racists — from Auburn and from elsewhere — maintained a lively presence outside Foy Hall during the time people entered for Spencer’s speech, as well as during the event itself. This anti-racist presence played some role in stopping people from drifting away before Spencer’s speech was over and racists filed out. Chants of “Fuck Richard Spencer!” were popular. However, there was also friction between some anti-racists who had travelled to Auburn, and other parts of the student body. For example, some “outsiders” were at first annoyed by Auburn pride chants, since they seemed to be an attempt to replace more pointed chants against the white supremacists gathering on campus. In retrospect, the situation was complicated than we initially understood; the Auburn spirit chants may have also communicated collective confidence in the face of adversary: “We’re proud to be Auburn, we’re going to stick together and see each other through this situation.”

The only arrests of the day occurred while Spencer’s speech was happening. Ryan Matthew King — who has subsequently been identified as a Montgomery, Alabama tattoo artist and “compatriot” of the racist/secessionist League of the South — was stationed outside and tried to attack an anti-racist in the crowd. King’s assault did not go as planned, with King promptly landing on the ground after misdelivering a blow, and receiving a stern physical rebuke from the crowd. King and two anti-racists were arrested as the police rushed in.

Ryan King story photo
League of the South “compatriot” Ryan Matthew King at Auburn University before starting fight

Tension grew in the crowd as it got later and darker outside, with the tide of opinion moving even further against Richard Spencer after he made the mistake of attacking college football and Black athletes. As white nationalists filed out, they received an angry escort from campus by the assembled crowd. Matthew Heimbach’s troopers of the Traditionalist Worker Party and other white supremacists attempted a poorly-conceived charge on students and other protesters, but soon realized their mistake. Some of the departing white nationalists were chased by students and protesters. A few racists ended up worse for wear.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Spencer’s event at Auburn showed that wherever ideological racists try to organize on campus, they should expect determined opposition, even at campuses such as Auburn with a reputation as conservative. The events at Auburn demonstrate how closely Far-Right organizing for violence accompanies the “free speech” activity of white power leaders like Spencer. On the 18th, white power activists were restrained in their violence compared to what they had threatened in days beforehand. Combined students and Southern anti-racists gave every racist-instigated act of violence an unmistakable response. Further, despite some concerns from Auburn students about militant anti-racists arriving on campus from elsewhere, Auburn students themselves chased and confronted “Alt-Right” racists at the end of the evening.

Since white nationalists can be slow learners, we expect that the “White Student Union” at Auburn may drag on for some time. For information on opposition to this White Student Union and other racist activity in and around Auburn, check out twitter.com/no_nazi_auburn

Photo galleries of Alt-Right, racist and far-Right activists at Auburn University on April 18 are available here, here, and here.

White Power “Atlanta Forum” Held in Marietta, January 28 2017

On January 28, 2017, just under fifty white nationalists met for the “Atlanta Forum,” a gathering billed as “a Southern nationalist conference of the Alt-Right.” Atlanta Antifascists organized to confront this gathering; however, on the day the racists got lucky, and we did not verify the meeting-place until the evening. 

Earlier in the day, assembled anti-racists held a spirited march through an Atlanta neighborhood which has been repeatedly hit by racist propaganda. (A report from some participants — published before the discovery of the Atlanta Forum venue — may be found here.) Unfortunately, by the time the Atlanta Forum venue was discovered, anti-racist forces were dispersed. Available anti-racists focused on documentation as well as notifying the venue, where Atlanta Forum attendees were still socializing and networking.


Atlanta Forum participants in Lobby of Marietta Hilton, night of January 28th

The Atlanta Forum was held at the Hilton Atlanta / Marietta Hotel & Conference Center in Cobb County, booked under the name “Michael Cushman Discussion Group.” Hotel management later claimed that white power Atlanta Forum attendees had left the premises by the time anti-racists notified the Hotel. This claim is contradicted by eyewitnesses, as well as by brief footage taken in the Hilton’s lobby after the space had been contacted.

Planning for the Atlanta Forum was secretive. As discussed on an episode of “The Daily Shoah” podcast after the event, white nationalists knew that there are “active and organized” antifascists in Atlanta. For this reason, they took countermeasures. Before the event, Atlanta Forum planners released a promotional image providing an early morning “meet up” point at Stone Mountain Park (in DeKalb County, some distance from Marietta). This “meet up” location turned out to be misinformation, a possibility we had noted in our earlier writing. Atlanta Forum organizer “Musonius Rufus” admitted that his event would have been larger, except for its “OpSec” (operations security) needs against antifascists, which made it harder for newcomers to the white power scene to attend. 

As expected, Atlanta white nationalist Sam Dickson, as well as regional racist figures such as Michael Cushman and “Musonius Rufus,” all talked at the Atlanta Forum. Other presenters included RG Miller of the Arkansas League of the South, and Alabama resident Bradley Griffin (AKA Hunter Wallace) of the Occidental Dissent website. Matthew Heimbach, Indiana-based leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, also participated in a panel discussion. Demonstrating their commitment to white nationalist networking, Atlanta Forum participants had a brief exchange of greetings by conference call with the New York Forum, another “Alt-Right”/far-Right event held on the same day.  

“Mike Enoch” of TheRightStuff website did not make it to the Atlanta Forum as was earlier announced, his cancellation owing to troubles from the “out-ing” of his real-world identity as tech worker Mike Peinovich. (Peinovich’s wife being revealed as Jewish was especially scandalous within the white supremacist scene.) In the end, Peinovich attended the New York Forum instead of traveling to Georgia. 

In related developments, the Atlanta Forum organizers moved their “Rebel Yell” podcast away from TheRightStuff website after the Enoch/Peinovich controversy broke. They rebranded as “Identity Dixie,” launching their new site a week before the Atlanta Forum. As evidenced by “Musonius Rufus” later appearing on Peinovich’s “Daily Shoah” to discuss the Atlanta Forum, ties to TheRightStuff remain. 

The Atlanta Forum highlights the presence of an “Alt-South” network which joins racist neo-Confederacy with the “Alt-Right.” Michael Cushman, Brad Griffin, and the hosts of the “Rebel Yell” podcast appear to be key players in this incipient alliance. Locally, Sam Dickson represents the white nationalist old guard, but a network of college-aged Alt-Right racists also exists in and around Atlanta — some of whom attended the Atlanta Forum.

Fortunately, grassroots anti-racist/anti-fascist forces are growing in the South as well. We would have preferred to have found the Atlanta Forum early, but even without this our efforts cut into event attendance. Our organizing against the Atlanta Forum increased our skills and capacity. Atlanta Forum planners are already discussing about how next time, hosting their gathering on state property rather than a private venue may be a safer bet. We’ll see how that goes. 

Updates on January 28th White Nationalist “Atlanta Forum”

For months, white nationalists have been organizing the “Atlanta Forum,” a gathering scheduled for Saturday, January 28 which has been advertised as “a Southern nationalist conference of the Alt-Right.” Atlanta Antifascists are still searching for the Atlanta Forum venue, but since our initial post on this event additional information has come to light.

On January 11th, just two days after our initial alert, a flyer for The Atlanta Forum was posted to the Facebook page for The Rebel Yell — a white power podcast on The Right Stuff website, whose hosts are involved in the Atlanta Forum’s organizing and promotion. The flyer provides the names of four speakers (discussed below), an updated time for the event (8AM-4PM instead of 9AM-4PM as previously announced), and finally a “meet up” point in Stone Mountain Park for those wishing to attend.

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Atlanta Forum flyer posted to The Rebel Yell page on Jan. 11

Stone Mountain has a long history of white supremacy, and last year Stone Mountain Park saw confrontation between anti-racists and an explicitly “white power” rally that was issued a permit there. While it is possible that the event “meet up” point on the flyer is correct, we are currently evaluating this information. Atlanta Forum organization has generally been kept under wraps — misdirection attempts against potential protesters are possible.

In another development, the “TRS Confederates”/“Rebel Yell” website was revamped on January 15, and the Atlanta Forum “Conference” page mentioned in our initial article disappeared. We do not think that people should leap to any conclusions from this website change, however.

Atlanta Antifascists request that anti-racists in our region keep their schedules open on January 28th — from early morning onward – and be ready to oppose white supremacist organizing that day. To receive the latest updates on our efforts against the Atlanta Forum, either join the event “Stop the Atlanta Forum,” linked from our Facebook page, or check our Twitter regularly. We urge venues and event spaces to remain on the lookout for suspicious bookings for the 28th.

While we are still verifying some of the information on the Atlanta Forum event flyer, we are confident that the list of conference speakers is accurate. Below is information on these individuals.

Speakers Listed on the “Atlanta Forum” Flyer:

  •         Michael Cushman

Michael Cushman is a Southern nationalist based in South Carolina. He is a former member of the National Alliance — at one time the largest neo-Nazi organization in the US — as well as of the secessionist/white nationalist League of the South, which he left in 2015. Cushman currently operates the “Southern Future” website and prior to this ran the “Southern Nationalist Network” site. He also designed the Southern nationalist “Cushman flag” which is incorporated in the initial logo for the Atlanta Forum (as is the Confederate battle flag and the “Black Sun” far-Right symbol.) Cushman is the author of Our Southern Nation, which has been well-received within the neo-fascist and white power blogosphere.

  •         Sam Dickson

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Sam Dickson at National Policy Institute gathering November 2016. (Image from Idavox.)

Georgia attorney Sam Dickson has been a major figure in the white nationalist movement for decades. Dickson has for example talked at every conference for the suit-and-tie racists of American Renaissance, and is also a regular speaker at National Policy Institute gatherings. In the past, Dickson has worked for Klansmen as a lawyer, but he really made his money on the Atlanta property market, where he purchased unpaid tax debts and used these as leverage to obtain properties in areas that are gentrifying at bargain prices. (For more on Dickson and the Atlanta property market, see this 2016 article. Dickson also owns property in Key West, Florida.)

  •         Mike Peinovich/“Mike Enoch”

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Mike Peinovich AKA “Mike Enoch”

Mike Peinovich, who goes by the name “Mike Enoch” online, runs The Right Stuff website which began in December 2012 and is one of largest online promoters of the white nationalist “Alt-Right.” The Right Stuff circulates far-Right podcasts such as the recently-ended “Fash the Nation” as well as Enoch/Peinovich’s “The Daily Shoah” (the podcast’s name references the Holocaust.) The Right Stuff forums have been an online organizing hub for white nationalists, while The Right Stuff has also encouraged offline activity such as “pool party” racist meetups and poster campaigns.

On January 13, “Mike Enoch” had his identity as Manhattan-based tech worker Peinovich leaked online. While some white supremacists have blamed this “doxing” on antifascists, it appears that this information was initially released by white supremacists as part of a feud about individuals on the Alt-Right who are accused of being soft on Jews. As part of this “doxing,” it was revealed that Peinovich’s wife was Jewish (and had appeared on “The Daily Shoah” show). This has led to scandal and infighting within the Alt-Right. At the time of writing, The Right Stuff forums are down but Peinovich apparently has separated from his wife and intends to continue with his racist, anti-Semitic organizing.

Since the Atlanta Forum flyer was released before Peinovich’s identity was revealed, it is now uncertain whether Peinovich will attend. Whatever the case, the recent disclosures regarding Peinovich and The Right Stuff are sure to cast a shadow over any event linked to that website, such as the Atlanta Forum.

  •         “Musonius Rufus”

“Musonius Rufus” is the alias for a host of “The Rebel Yell,” a podcast by “TRS Confederates” circulated on The Right Stuff. “Musonius” gives his location as Tennessee. He appears — like many of The Right Stuff participants — to have a history on the libertarian Right prior to going full-on “fashy” and white nationalist.

“The Rebel Yell” broadcast which “Rufus” is involved with has its origin in pro-Confederate flag organizing by The Right Stuff soon after the 2015 Charleston massacre — “The Rebel Yell” Facebook page was initially a page for “Battle Flag the 4th” organizing, with the “Rebel Yell” podcast being launched later. “The Atlanta Forum” builds upon a central theme of “The Rebel Yell” podcast: that is, the racism of the “Alt-Right” combined with neo-Confederacy and Southern nationalism.

International Keystone Knights of KKK Hosting “White Christian Community Event” in Rockmart, Georgia, October 1st 2016

Update 9/23/2016, 6PM: According to The Polk County Standard Journal, the Klan event has now been cancelled.

Update 9/19/2016: Permit for the KKK event in Rockmart is now available here.

On October 1st – the same day the white supremacist Hammerskin Nation will hold a major racist festival in Georgia – the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (IKKKKK) have announced a gathering at Seaborn Jones Park in downtown Rockmart, Georgia.

Rockmart is approximately an hour northwest of Atlanta by car. It is approximately 25 minutes north of Draketown GA where the “Hammerfest” gathering is expected to take place. (The Georgia Peach Oyster Bar in Draketown is also where the “Aryan Nationalist Alliance” will gather on September 17th.)

The October 1st IKKKKK gathering is promoted as a “White Christian Community Event” running from 10AM to 6PM and featuring vendors, music and food. Seaborn Jones Park is a public space operated by the City of Rockmart.

edited-keystone-knights-at-seaborne-jones-park-rockmart-ga-oct-1st-2016Flyer for the Klan event in Rockmart, GA October 1st

A promotional image for the October 1st IKKKKK gathering was circulated online by Greg “Thor” Calhoun of Cedartown, Georgia. At the time of writing, promotion does not seem to have advanced far beyond Calhoun notifying those already in his circles.

Greg Calhoun was previously involved in the Aryan Nations Knights of the KKK, where he was active alongside Shaun Winkler of Mississippi, a longstanding white power militant and one-time “Imperial Wizard” of the Aryan Nations KKK. Both Calhoun and Winkler eventually switched organization affiliation to the International Keystone Knights. (Winkler is now a member of the National Socialist Movement.)

shawn-winkler-photo-posted-to-vk-19-jun-2016-with-greg-calhoun-dl-8-27-2016Greg Calhoun (L) and Shaun Winkler (R) earlier this year.

On November 14, 2015, Greg Calhoun and his wife Jodi organized a “Defend Stone Mountain” rally at Stone Mountain Park – an event where there was an “obvious” Klan presence according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The November 14, 2015 rally organized by the Calhouns was the immediate precursor to the April 23, 2016 “Rock Stone Mountain” white power rally at the same park, an event which met with concerted anti-racist resistance.

In filings with the Georgia Corporations Division, the International Keystone Knights presently lists “Greg Cochran” as its agent for the State of Georgia – yet the address provided in these filings indicates that “Greg Cochran” is the same person as Gregory Todd Calhoun.

Regionally, October 1st is an unusually busy day for white supremacist organizers. As well as the Hammerskins-sponsored “Hammerfest” in Georgia plus the IKKKKK “White Christian Community Event” in downtown Rockmart, the annual “Stormfront Summit” will be held in East Tennessee on the same weekend, featuring speakers such as David Duke, Paul Fromm, and Atlanta white nationalist/real estate lawyer Sam Dickson.