by BD, First of May Anarchist Alliance – Detroit Collective
People in Michigan are under attack and fighting back. On Saturday, June 10, right-wingers and white supremacists held an “anti-sharia” rally in Lansing. It seemed like it was more oathkeepers and milita types than anything else. About 10-12 older white guys holding big guns, protecting and defending 5-10 fascists and white supremacists and maybe another 5-10 Trump supporters and anti-Muslim bigots, including several women. About 30 in all.
About 200 people came out to oppose the racists and the fascists and in defense of Muslim communities. Our side was multi-racial, multi-national and multi-gendered. Black and Muslim and Women and Queer, and all of us together. A new group, Solidarity and Defense, did plenty of good work in organizing for the counter demonstration and in reaching out to immigrant and working class communities in Lansing, Detroit and other cities. Folks from Lansing were in the lead at the demonstration with supporters coming from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Grand Rapids and elsewhere. People came out from working class and immigrant communities in Lansing; activists from Detroit Eviction Defense came out. There were supporters from First of May Anarchist Alliance, Redneck Revolt, Revolutionary Communist Party and Workers World Party. It was especially good to see folks from many cities in Michigan, organizing and mobilizing together to oppose the fascists and in defense of Muslim communities.
We need to build on the outreach from this mobilization and develop broader networks and organizations. We need to coordinate statewide and build Solidarity and Defense throughout the state. And we need more attention to defending our actions and our groups against the racists and fascists.
We also need more attention to detail. We didn’t realize until the morning of June 10th that there would be another anti-sharia rally in Southfield, a suburb adjacent to Detroit on the same day. The Detroit News reported that about 200 people lined 12 mile and Southfield Road with anti-Muslim and Trump signs. These anti-Muslim bigots from West Bloomfield, Allen Park, Sterling Heights and other areas were not opposed. We were right to focus our forces in Lansing and to coordinate statewide, but we need better information gathering and have to recognize that white supremacists, anti-Muslim bigots and fascists are spreading their doctrines of fear, hate, scapegoating and violence among broader sections of the population in this country.
Less than 24 hours later, in the early morning of Sunday, June 11, ICE agents and other cops raided the homes of Chaldeans and Muslims from Iraq and other people from metro Detroit in a series of deportation raids. More than 100 people were picked up from their homes, and from churches and restaurants, and taken into detention. Some had misdemeanors or other charges, many from years or even decades before. The U.S. government has reached an agreement with the government in Iraq, where Iraq has agreed to accept Iraqis picked up in the raids. And like other detainees from Detroit, they were to be sent to the private, for-profit prison/detention center in Youngstown, Ohio. ICE and the feds have a contract with the owners of that prison to house detainees and those picked up in ICE raids, so ICE intends to keep up the deportation raids.
But what ICE and the government did not count on was the response of the Chaldean community and the Muslim communities and those opposing attacks on our communities and the families of those picked up in the raids. These folks showed up at the ICE detention center on Jefferson in Detroit to demand the release of the detainees and to oppose the transport of the detainees to Youngstown. Dozens of people, with Chaldean and Muslim family members in the lead, mobilized to stop the bus, filled with their loved ones, from leaving. The people blockaded the bus and held off the Detroit police and Homeland Security cops for more than hour, before the bus finally headed out to Youngstown. Chanting “Fuck the Police” and “Fuck Trump,” people were united and fighting to stop the deportations. This was a political resistance, as well as a physical resistance. The police and ICE were not ready or prepared for this. We need to build the resistance.
More Chaldeans live in metro Detroit than in any other area of the country. Chaldeans are from Iraq and are Christian. Many have lived in the Detroit area for generations; many are immigrants and refugees from Iraq from the 1980’s, the 1990’s (first Gulf War) and the 2000’s and the U.S. war against Iraq. Christians in Iraq, in Egypt and other areas have been targeted and attacked by ISIS and other forces in the region. Chaldean families in Detroit are fearful that their loved ones will be targets for violence on deportation to Iraq. Some in the Chaldean community, including some religious leaders and some business leaders, have supported the U.S. war against Iraq, and some were and have been vocal supporters of Trump. There have been divisions between some members of the Chaldean community and some members of Muslim communities in metro Detroit.
But the deportation raids in Detroit on Sunday hit Chaldeans and Muslims; it targeted people who can be deported to Iraq. And these deportation raids targeting people from Iraq follow the raids in Southwest Detroit a few weeks ago, which targeted people from Mexico and the Latinx community. All of our communities are under attack. An attack on the Chaldean community, on Muslim communities, on Latinx communities is an attack on all of us and on the working class. We have to break down all barriers and divisions and unite our forces to oppose deportation raids and attacks on our families.
Some of the same folks who had been in Lansing on Saturday to oppose the fascists and their anti-sharia rally were out in Detroit on Sunday to oppose the government deportation raids and attacks on the Chaldean and Muslim communities. And some of the people from Solidarity and Defense who helped build and organize the opposition to the anti-Muslim bigots in Lansing helped to oppose the deportation raids and the ICE bus leaving from Detroit on Sunday night. And people from Respuesta Rapida /Rapid Response Detroit (RRD) joined in this struggle on Sunday night.
The working class and immigrant communities and people of color face serious attacks from the fascists and the racists and from the government. The fascist rallies against Muslims and for white supremacy and for “make America great again” help to build support for and pave the way for the ICE raids on our Chaldean, Muslim and Latinx neighbors. And this white supremacy and “white lives matter” crap doesn’t make distinctions between Chaldeans and Muslims or between Arabs and South Asians or among Latinx communities. And this white supremacy is anti-Black at its core and attacks and threatens all people of color and attacks and always has attacked Black people.
It’s clear that we need to unite our forces both to oppose the fascists and racist attacks and to oppose the government, the state, the police and ICE. Solidarity is a necessity. We have to stand together and cannot allow ourselves to be divided. The working class and all communities under attack must stand in solidarity. And we have to face the reality that we are fighting the fascists and the government. We are fighting this whole system.
We have to organize; we have to fight. We have to defend our communities and our movement and our meetings and our demonstrations from fascist and racist attacks. The various groups and organizations and communities must be willing to develop united fronts for defense, community self-defense organizations and groupings. We have to self-organize, and we have to unite and coordinate our forces. And we have to organize rapid response networks across the state and throughout the country to respond to government attacks and deportation raids. Members of all communities must come out in defense of any communities which are targeted. All of us: Chaldean, Muslim, Latinx, immigrant, Black and white must join forces and fight together against the fascists and the government. An injury to one is an injury to all.
And community members and organizations and anti-fascist groups and working class and revolutionary organizations must be able to coordinate actions and cooperate in defense of communities under attack. This is the broad united front against the fascists, against racist attacks and against government attacks and deportation raids. Fascist movements are growing; the threat is real. Government attacks are increasing and hitting broader sections of the working class and our communities. We have to reach out to broader sections of the working class. We have to stand united against attacks and be willing to work together in defense of the working class, despite differences in approach and different organizations and beliefs. The test now is who and what forces will stand together and unite our forces in defense. And who and what forces will tell the truth. We cannot defeat fascism and white supremacy, unless and until we overthrow and defeat the capitalist system which gives us Trump and deportation raids and build up for war and which gives us growing fascist movements and racist attacks on our communities.
On Monday afternoon, people gathered at a Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, little more than a mile from where the anti-Muslim bigots held their “anti-sharia” rally on Saturday. About 100 people came out to the church. These were Chaldeans and Muslims from the blockade against the ICE buses and the deportation raids on Sunday, these were families of those who are facing deportation and being held at the detention center in Youngstown, and these were supporters from Repuesta Rapida Detroit/Rapid Response Detroit (RRD), Solidarity and Defense, First of May Anarchist Alliance, Workers World/Peoples Defense Network and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary). Folks from BAMN and RRD and Solidarity and Defense and First of May Anarchist Alliance had been out to stand with the families and the communities on Sunday in the struggle to stop the bus at the ICE center.
Several people spoke at the rally. Many people cried, because their loved ones had been taken from their homes. Some of the Chaldean speakers talked about their anger and frustration; some said they had even voted for Trump. But Chaldean women and Muslim women took the lead and explained that now Chaldeans and Muslims must unite to fight the raids and to fight Trump. And when the leader of the church showed up and said Chaldeans only should come in the church to pray, Chaldean and Muslim women spoke out and said do not follow him into that church to pray. These women, instead, said stand here, all of us united, to fight these attacks. Do not go into the church and do not allow our forces to be divided. The church leader had no one to lead. No one followed him. He sat down alone.
This is not the end; consciousness is changing. All of our communities have conservative leaders who try to hold us back, whether pastors or priests or imams who urge people to support Trump or be patriotic or don’t rock the boat or business leaders who urge support for the police and Republican or Democratic Party politicians. But at the Chaldean church on Monday, following the deportation raids against Chaldean and Muslim communities on Sunday, Muslim and Chaldean women stood together and understood that the conservative church leaders and the community business leaders have no answers. These women understood that the only way forward is in struggle and in uniting our communities and our forces to oppose these attacks, to oppose these deportation raids. New forces are on the move; the old misleaders should be left behind.
These attacks from the government and the fascists are hitting broad sections of our communities and of the working class. On Saturday, the anti-sharia rally in Lansing threatened to march into an immigrant community near the site of the march. But Solidarity and Defense folks and others had been handing out flyers and talking with people in that neighborhood in the days leading up to the fascist rally, urging people to oppose the fascists and to resist. People in the neighborhood set up some of their own blockades on Saturday, using caution tape and shopping carts, to defend their homes and their families from the fascists. People joined the counterdemonstration, and others stayed on their porches and kept watch. And when ICE attacked Chaldean and Muslim families in metro Detroit on Sunday, families and supporters from the Chaldean and Muslim communities came forward and were leaders in the fight against the raids and to stop the bus and to stand for a united struggle at the Chaldean church on Monday.
As the attacks from the fascists and the government escalate and hit broader layers of the working class and our communities, people face the truth. It’s not hard to see to that we need to unite our forces, reach out to our communities and build united, community self-defense against these attacks. When the fascists or the government or ICE or the police attack Muslims or Chaldeans or Latinx communities or Black communities or women or anti-fascists or the LGBTQ community, they attack all of us. We stand together now. We don’t need any elites to tell us what to do. We need to rely on ourselves. For anarchists and revolutionaries, this is the time to reach out to our communities and build united struggles. This is the time to join with and participate in the developing struggles against the fascists, against racist attacks and against ICE and government attacks. This is the time to build community self -defense and to organize for revolution. Half measures won’t work. The government won’t protect us; it is attacking us. We don’t need protectors. We need to fight together and convince more people that to defeat fascism and white supremacy and deportation raids, we have to defeat and overthrow the entire system. We need to bring down U.S. imperialism and white supremacy. We need to bring down the billionaires who run the system and seize the wealth they have stolen from us. We need to bring down the U.S.A. and replace it with the people organized, with our communities standing together, with freedom for all people, without borders or walls or states dividing us.