Sunday, 3 March 2013

When NATA-NY Met NYC Antifa: the True Story

by Craig FitzGerald

Earlier this month it was brought to our attention that the collective that runs ABC No Rio declared they would  not hold the “Punks Against Police” show because one member of the headlining band is loosely affiliated with NATA-NY.* At the same time, the first of two hit pieces on NATA-NY was posted on the NYC antifa blog in an attempt to intimidate us and  members of the above mentioned band. Members of the band who were never affiliated with us then made public statements distancing their band from NATA. This pleased the organizer of the show, NYC Antifa’s Maoist “Joey Steel,” enough to keep the  band on the bill.  The venue changed to “The Swamp ”(allegedly a NYC antifa “place”) and mention of the band and the accompanying photos were retracted from antifa’s article.  “Joey” personally smeared us, calling NATA “racists, homophobes, xenophobes, anti-semites and right wingers,” and censored my attempts to defend the group and explain our positions on  the show’s event page.

In solidarity with the band and the message of the event*, we promised to be in attendance and were hoping to show that we are not a fascist group.  On the afternoon of February 16th, after taking some group pictures, five members of NATA-NY attempted to attend the “punks against police” matinee. We never had any intention of, nor did we attempt to “storm the show” as claimed in the antifa article. Upon entering the venue, we were met by a masked skinhead (most likely a member of RASH*) who, armed with a maglite, was working the door. Robert Erick paid the $10 and was patted down for weapons.  At this point, because we were not there to start trouble, I asked the masked doorman if he could hold the two pocket knives I had until the show was over.  During this interaction, an unmasked goon who was also running the door must have recognized me because as I was about to pay the admission  he said “hold on a minute” and went upstairs.  Five seconds later he came back saying  “he cant come in” while pointing at me. We asked why and said we wanted to speak with the organizer “Joey Steel” and the two members of the headlining band I know personally .

“Joey” eventually came out whining that “N.A.T.A. was not welcome here” and we “needed to leave.” After some debate and protest we demanded to speak to members of the above mentioned band.  We were told, “fine, but you all have to wait outside.” We  refused to comply until the member of the band who is loosely affiliated with NATA came downstairs and our money and my knives were returned. At one point “Joey” attempted to push the member of NATA mistakenly identified in the second article as Luke Bilgrey (who was not present at all). When none of Joey’s comrades joined in, he promptly ceased physical confrontations. A few moments after we were reimbursed and my knives were returned, one of the guitar players of the band in question, who never had any affiliation with NATA,  came downstairs and told us that his band did not want us at the show. Although I doubted that this was the band’s consensus, we decided to respect the principle of voluntary association and exclusion, and left the building. Antifa locked the doors behind us. We milled around in front of the venue discussing and lamenting the authoritarian measures employed to keep a punk rock/hardcore show homogenized and politically correct.

After about five minutes approximately eight guys came out, some of them armed with maglites. One said, “we know what you trying to do.” When we asked what he was talking about, he replied “you guys can’t hang out around here.” After explaining to these “gentlemen”  that we would hang out wherever we wished and they would have to try to physically remove us from the area, one of the antifa goons told us we “can’t be anti-fascist because we are opposed to the group antifa,” as if they owned the concept of anti-fascism. Eventually the members of the band in question all came outside. The band member affiliated with us was obviously distressed by all the intimidation and drama, and seemed to be sad that “politics” was dividing up the punk/hardcore scene and pushing his band into the middle of it. On the other hand, two members of the band (who were not personally known to me or ever affiliated with NATA) vehemently and belligerently opposed anything we said in our defense. After Rob bought a beer at the local bodega and brought it back to drink in a paper bag (to illustrate our intention of staying put), the antifa goons realized we would not be intimidated from hanging out in front of the venue and they went back inside, locking the door again.

As the evening progressed more folks began to show up, many of whom asked us if this was “the Swamp, where the show is?” We happily confirmed that it was, but asked them to make sure to tell the guys working the door that the “neo-nazi group outside” directed them to the show. This was met with an incredulous “wait a minute-- you guys are a nazi group?”  NATA responded with laughter explaining the situation and why we were being blackballed. Some of these attendees actually agreed with NATA that antifa were “authoritarians on a divisive witch hunt” and that as anarchists they could not use coercion against those who voluntarily lived in separatist enclaves if those communities lived by the non aggression principle. After posting up an anti-antifa sticker on wall outside the venue, we left the area at our own pace and of our own volition.

NATA-NY is not surprised by the coercive tactics we encountered at the “Punks Against Police” matinee, or by the excess of smears and inaccuracies in the two articles by antifa. On the contrary, we find it very illustrative of antifa’s deceptive and authoritarian nature. The questionable sources for information on Troy Southgate and National Anarchism in general reveal the establishment’s role in steering antifa‘s agenda. It seems the intelligence on Troy was taken verbatim from the “Searchlight” magazine (published by a UK-based group that is much like the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC]).  Antifa’s suggestions for further reading on “national anarchism and related currents”  include an SPLC article smearing both National Anarchism in general and the defunct Bay Area National Anarchists (BANA) in particular. Disingenuously, antifa doesn’t mention the fact that NATA-NY and Troy Southgate have denounced BANA and its mouthpiece Andrew Yeoman for the very Islamaphobic and reactionary activities mentioned in their article. The first article shows cropped screen shots of a discussion about “holocaust” revisionism as proof of our “anti-Semitism.” However, if one actually read the entire thread, it would be clear that it was a debate among members of NATA-NY (some of whom are Jewish) about the legitimacy of questioning certain facts about the “holocaust.” In the same article, it is claimed that I am an apologist for the Greek Golden Dawn party.  This is based on my comment that although the GD are a Greek Nationalist party, to say they are the Greek Nazi/fascist party is hyperbole at best and sophistry at worst. The claim that we support bringing back a “voluntary” Jim Crow style racial separatism is ridiculous. NATA is obviously not a racial separatist group.  While we recognize individuals’ and communities’ right to exclude based on any factor including race, to claim that we support Jim Crow, a form of oppressive, state-enforced racial segregation, is preposterous.

Antifa’s mission to demonize anyone who disagrees with their own form of politically correct fascism is a complete joke.  NATA-NY will not be intimidated by threats or attempts at physical coercion.  We are laughing at the glaring inaccuracy of NYC antifa’s pathetic smear campaign, and saddened by the pathetic dedication it takes to cause such unnecessary conflict.

 *Ironically, back in 1994, I marched with the ABC collective to the NYC HPD in protest of the illegal eviction ABC was facing at the time.

*The name of the show “punks against police” was a superficial gimmick meant to attract an audience who were opposed to the police. In reality the show did nothing to thwart the police state or its brutality other than maybe raise  some awareness.

*I assume he is RASH or some other communist skinhead based on my over 15 years experience with the NYC skinhead scene.

Discussed on the N-AM facebook group here.

Related articles: NATA-NY: Confronting Anti-FA NYC's Smear