The events of Greenboro, North Carolina 1979, today more than ever as we gear up our struggles in the aftermath of the spark of the Occupy movement, should be permanently etched in our minds. We had best know how to deal with the fascists and other para-military types that rear their heads when people begin to struggle against the bosses. The article below points the way historically.
Markin comment on this article :
Every year, and rightfully so, we leftist militants, especially those of us who count ourselves among the communist militants, remember the 1979 Greensboro, North Carolina massacre of fellow communists by murderous and police-protected Nazis, fascists and Klansmen. That remembrance, as the article below details, also includes trying to draw the lessons of the experience and an explanation of political differences. For what purpose? Greensboro 1979-never again, never forget-or forgive.
Although right this minute, this 2011 minute, the Nazis/fascists are not publicly raising their hellish ideas, apparently “hiding” just now on the fringes of the tea party movement, this is an eternal question for leftists. The question, in short, of when and how to deal with this crowd of locust. Trotsky, and others, had it right back in the late 1920s and early 1930s-smash this menace in the shell. 1933, when they come to power, as Hitler did in Germany (or earlier, if you like, with Mussolini in Italy) is way too late, as immediately the German working class, including its Social-Democratic and Communist sympathizers found out, and later many parts of the rest of the world. That is the when.
For the how, the substance of this article points the way forward, and the way not forward, as represented by the American Communist Party’s (and at later times other so-called “progressives” as well, including here the Communist Workers Party) attempts to de-rail the street protests and rely, as always, on the good offices of the bourgeois state, and usually, on this issue the Democrats. Sure, grab all the allies you can, from whatever source, to confront the fascists when they raise their heads. But rely on the mobilization of the labor movement on the streets to say what’s what, not rely on the hoary halls of bourgeois government and its hangers-on, ideologues, and lackeys.
Ohio Union Guard Routs Fascists
Reprinted from the Northwest Organizer,24 November 1938
A company of union defense guards, made up of unionists from Youngstown, Ohio, had the honor of leading the first victorious assault on the fascist Silver Shirts when the boss-supported labor-haters sought to hold a meeting last Thursday in Sharon.
Sharon is 14 miles from Youngstown. Roy Zachary, national commander of the Silver Shirts, appeared in Sharon Thursday to speak before a scheduled meeting of his group.
The Silver Shirts had arranged some time ago to hold their meeting in the local Moose Hall, but without announcing the sponsorship of the meeting. When the Silver Shirts arrived around 8 p.m., lodge officers revoked the permit for the meeting.
A fascist who had wormed his way into the Carpenters' union then suggested that the meeting be held in the nearby Carpenters' Hall. The Silver Shirts went there and started their meeting.
The meeting had no sooner got under way than 10 carloads of union guards arrived from Youngstown, dashed up the stairs and stormed the meeting.
Storm the Hall
As the doors and windows were being battered down, several squads of cops rushed in to protect the Silver Shirts. The union guards circled the building and prepared to storm it from the rear. At this point, two officials of the Carpenters Union arrived and ordered the Silver Shirts out of the building.
Cops Protect Fascists
Quaking, the Silver Shirts quickly stole out of the building and were escorted to their cars by the cops as the union pickets hurled their hatred at the local Hitlerites.
"Union members in this area," writes one of the union
guards, "are determined that the Silver Shirts shall hold no
""meetings. The effectiveness of our swift action in the Sharon
case is shown by the fact that the Silver Shirts called off
a scheduled meeting in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, the following
night. Definite steps are being taken to organize union defense
squads after the pattern of the Minneapolis unions for the
protection of the union movement against any attacks from the
employers' stooge vigilante organization, the Silver Shirts.
Our motto is 'Offense is the best defense'."
The stalwart union defense guards of Youngstown, Ohio, have given a magnificent and inspiring demonstration of labor's resolve that the United States shall not go the way of Germany, Italy, Austria and the Balkans. Labor everywhere must energetically set about to build the union defense guard and smash the Silver Shirted rats wherever they show their heads. We hail the Youngstown union guard!
Minneapolis Picket Line Smashes Fascist Rally
—Reprinted from the Militant 31 August 1946
Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 22—A united labor movement stopped Fascist Gerald L.K. Smith from speaking last night in Minneapolis. More than 1,500 pickets from AFL, CIO and Railroad unions, along with members of veterans, Jewish, Negro and working class political organizations, including the Socialist Workers Party, rallied in a fighting mass dem¬onstration against America's No. 1 fascist leader.
When Smith's goons assaulted several pickets outside the fascists' meeting place at the Leamington Hotel, the aroused workers stormed the meeting hall and routed Smith and his followers in a pitched battle....
Scores of banners carried by the pickets had been distributed by the united labor committee. They carried such slogans as: "Race Hatred is Fascism;" "Stop Fascism and G.L.K. Smith;" "Don't Be A Sucker For Fascists;" "Don't Support Hitler's Agent-Keep Away." By agreement of the committee in charge, each organization carried only one placard.
Among the organizations carrying their own banners were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Workers Defense League; the Minneapolis AFL Central Labor Union; the Minneapolis AFL Building Trades Council; the American Veterans Committee; the American
Youth for Democracy; the Socialist Workers Party; the Communist Party; and the Minneapolis Jewish Action Committee.
Prominent in the picket line was the banner of the Socialist Workers Party proclaiming: "American Workers Do Not Want A Hitler-STOP Gerald L. K. Smith!"...
Storming the Hall
As the first pickets reached the hotel, some of the Smith goons attempted to break up the line. Several of the pickets were attacked and knocked to the sidewalk. When the attackers fled into the hotel, the pickets stormed in after them.
Surging through the lobby, the pickets were met by a knot of fascists who attempted to bar the way to the ballroom where the meeting was to be held. With a mighty push, the Smith supporters were brushed aside and the pickets plunged on like a great tidal wave toward the meeting hall.
Charging through a barricade of chairs which the fascists had thrown up to prevent the pickets from entering the hall, the shouting mass of labor anti-fascists made their way into the ballroom. In their frantic retreat, the fascists left broken chairs, tables, lamps and mirrors in their wake. Dozens of Smith's supporters fled through the windows. Those remaining in the hall scuttled to one corner of the room and huddled there.
Workers Take Over
At the call of the picket captain, Walter Frank, all the pickets were seated. Frank's announcement that no Smith meeting would be held was greeted with resounding cheers. He reported that the hotel manager had refused to let Smith's meeting take place and ordered the fascists out, since the ballroom had been obtained under false pretenses. One of Smith's followers had rented the hall in the name of the "Northwest Pioneers."
The assembled pickets were then instructed to march in a body to the Minneapolis courthouse where an anti-fascist would be held. A rearguard of pickets was left at the hotel to see that instructions of the manager were carried out.
Smith came out of hiding only after the pickets left. He attempted to hold a meeting in the hotel lobby but only a handful of people remained. In one of his usual attacks on the labor movement and minorities, Smith declared to his followers that the demonstration was the work of "Jewish terrorists and Communists."...