Recently was another day that best describes the ongoing situations that better define national social unrest tensions in 2017. This, by yesterdays headlines involving the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. White nationalist groups marched, and a counter protest happened. There was tragedy resulted from acts of hate, leading to terrible injuries and a horrific fatality.
A day later in Seattle, a different situation happened, and I was there for a couple of hours in the afternoon. A nationalist militia group Patriot Prayer (and other sympathizers including the Proud Boys nationalist group) gathered for something called a “Freedom Rally.” while they claim not to be associated with the White supremacy movement of the East, there are similarities with their rhetoric (in looking them up online): labelling those in favor of BLM, anti-Trump, progressives, immigrant defenders to some incorrect narrative of violent “Antifa” anarchy, while promoting their own version of religious and gun-toting freedom. Meanwhile, there are subtle roots of racism in the PP militia presentations, with the usual promotion of “All Lives Matter,” disregarding the message of Black Lives Matter with their own distorted narrative. They claim to bring something different to the table of social discussion which becomes lost when appearing in military gear, preaching hateful rhetoric, politically cheerleading for the alt-right and praise Trump for his controversial policies that alienate immigrants and Muslims.
But oddly, they shared the stage with those giving back harsh words to them, and the white nationalist sympathizing festering from the growing alt-right. Lots of loud speeches for Black Lives Matter, Indigenous people’s awareness, Bernie Sanders, anti-fascism, anti-capitalism, clarifying socialism, income inequality, anti-racism, and anti-Trump’ all drew loud cheers from the counter-protesters.
Meanwhile, the PP militia group held their area in the middle, mixed with independent media folk. The nationalist group used American flags as peripherals, which I found bothering because that assumes the US holds a special place its dominant white demographic, should any other groups of a different color or ethnicity, or non-Christian religion suddenly gather in military gear and taking advantage of open-carry protections. Such an imbalance suggests the American flag in regards to militias and accumulation of firearms, builds for white privilege.
Anyway, some of the members of the PP militia groups spoke as well, with some very passive aggressive speeches about tolerance and free speech. Such felt a bit silly, with many among them passing off fallacies, alternative facts, and hailing Trump as some lord and savior for conservative causes. Of course, those were met with heavy boos and shouts of “bullshit” It was all an amusing with the display of cooperative civility, allowing for this “Freedom Rally” and counter protesting to happen and keep itself in control, though there were a few troubling incidents resulting in arrests and police counter-measures.
Overall, those gathered around the PP militia were anything but those what social media haters would describe in general as the communist, mask wearing, violent, unemployed immigrants, or whatever else incorrect labeling is out there. Such is wrong in observation of the assembly of downtown Seattle natives I see every day, bearing every class, color, and ethnicities; all young and old, with visual styles suggesting many statuses and lifestyle choices. Most in part, pushing for an end to the threats of racism and fascism (many with signs and adornments expressing such).
I moved about in the outer circles, mingling with an otherwise chill atmosphere, occasional bursting in cheers and boos (depending on speaker and content). The conversations were friendly, with word exchanges about social change and the recent situation in Charlottesville, Virginia. Also, many funny comments about the silent PP militia man standing in the background on the stage, constantly chewing gum or tobacco for at least an hour.
So, another fun Sunday afternoon in Seattle, for which I glad I checked out. Such forums are always great staples of this city life, though can also be unpredictable. Yet, I feel these moments are worthwhile, in the peaceful interactions and learning more about each other.
– Orion T
The picture was taken from my phone around 3:00 pm, Sunday afternoon. I wished I took a better shot of the counter-protesting crowd surrounding then PP militia. Such was clearly a larger gathering, emphasizing the Seattle local response to nationalism and its disdain for the alt-right movements.