-Hello there.  This is Johnny Silvercloud, the Soul Brother #1 of a Kind.  The Vicious Abolitionist.  Frederick Thuglass.  The Gordon Parks of these parts.  Being that I was back home in Washington D.C. employing my lens during this historical event of an Inauguration, I feel compelled to discuss my mixed feelings on the micro-riot that occurred when I embedded myself into a set of black-clad protesters.

A Different Type of Protester

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When I first saw these protesters arrive, they marched through McPherson Square (a spot for multiple protesters) and I’ll have to say that there was something different than them.  The first thing I noticed was that they were decked out in black, head to toe.  They all wore masks, and walked out in as a uniform front.  Out of the various protesters meeting and crossing McPherson Square, these folks were the most intriguing folks out there.

The feeling they brought was different.  They came with fireworks that shot into the air, similar to the 4th of July.  They had firecrackers and popped on the ground.

Eventually firecrackers were not the only thing that went bang onto the ground; trash cans from another square we walked into got overthrown smashed.  In short notice, this firecracker wielding crew became something similar to marauders.

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Anti-Fascists, moments before vandalism of Starbucks

Smash Something

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Anti-Fascists wrecking Starbucks and Bank of America, Downtown Washington D.C.

I was there when these protesters technically became rioters.  Long story short, I was there to document these protesters smashing up Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Bank of America downtown Washington D.C.  (Click here for the podcast audio!)

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Bank of America, Washington D.C.

If anyone were to follow my video feed of this event, one would know that initially I didn’t like the fact that they smashed up a few downtown businesses.  The more I think about it, I believe I had mixed feelings about the whole thing.

The first thing that happened was an, “Oh shit, is this really happening?” response.  I felt a combat-mode adrenalin rush.  This mess was exciting.  I really could not believe that these folks — seeming out of nowhere — began wrecking shit.  Over Trump.  Genuinely wrecking shit.

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The police response was relatively fast.  The riot control police (read: stormtroopers) seemed to come from out of nowhere.  The police had bottles of pepper spray the size of medium fire extinguishers.  CS gas (tear gas) was deployed by the time the mob got to 12th Street and I Street (as captured to the right) and I got a good whiff of that stuff.  I’ve had CS gas before, but it’s been years.  Being that I wasn’t targeted, I got a weaker whiff of the CS.  Manly tears ensued.  I’ll have to admit, the stormtroopers did an amazing job of not attacking the photographer guy who was close enough to smell light farts from these police officers.  I always known that Metropolitan (D.C.) Police were a lot different than other city cops.  D.C. cops (from downtown) know not to act a total fool.  There’s a protest everyday in D.C., add the fact that it is the Nation’s capital and treating everyone like a rioter would embarrass the United States in front of the world.  I shouldn’t have to be thankful of cops doing the right thing, functioning with precision, but since that’s not the norm it had to be mentioned.

“Is it a bad time for a latte?”  ~ Johnny Silvercloud to the Starbucks manager, after the mob broke their windows

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PVT Gray, U.S. National Guard, protecting Bank of America

Eventually the police separated the free press and freelancers from the mob, and ended the mini-riot.  With that being said, the damage was already done.  Going back to the destruction, I jokingly asked the Starbucks worker, “Is it a bad time for a latte?” 

And it was.  There was enough glass on the floor to make Hans Gruber proud.  No one was getting their espresso that day.

Upon reflecting on the vandalizing, I realized something: I was happy about it.  I was glad that, in this case, no one would blame the black community for this riot.  Black clothes? Maybe.  Black people?  No.  These gentrified protesters — marauders even — were mostly a white crowd, by far.  I think even the cops knew this.  Perhaps the cops’ measured response was due to the fact that they were white.  So maybe, despite the fact that the black clothing and masks provided them a dispersal of identity, they were all white to the cops and therefore not treated so harshly.  After all, they were able to smash Starbucks, circle a whole city block, smash the McDonalds on the bottom opposing side of the block before police truly halted their riot.  So they rioted with a bit of white privilege in my home town.

I found myself totally okay with that.

Local Nazis Getting Punched

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Later on after a long day of covering various protests, I catch a treasure on the internet — Richard Spencer getting, as we say in D.C., stole in his face.  The moment I saw this I sat there and thought, “Wow I wish I would have captured that moment.”

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When I let the scene of an Americanized Nazi getting punched in the face marinate, I had a flicker in my head of something I captured earlier: A particular sign that came from the anti-fascist crew.

This set of protesters were not decked out with a lot of signs, but I did manage to capture this sign on the left: FIGHT YOUR LOCAL NAZIS.  Then and there, as I put it all together, I realized that I really do like these guys.  Fuck it, I love these guys.  The mixed feelings were gone; I knew who hit this Nazi in the face and it was these guys.  Out of everything that went wrong, everything went right — these guys punched a Nazi, which is, according to Captain America and the history of World War II, the most American thing to do.  Anti-Fascists did something that a lot of folks didn’t have the balls to do, and that’s punch Richard Spencer in the face.

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CPT America did it, why can’t we?

After absorbing all the tear gas and all of the protests that day I realized that I really don’t give a damn about Starbucks. Or McDonald’s. Especially Bank of America.  These businesses, while only a small leaf of a bigger tree, have CEOs who would most certainly weigh in on the DAPL issue, Black Lives Matter, and other social issues taking place today.  They at large, do not.  Sure, Starbucks are more friendly to the socio-political activist, but they can do a whole lot more than what they have been.  Fuck Starbucks.  Fuck Bank of America.  Fuck Ronald McDonald; Richard Spencer got punched in the face.

And we have the anti-fascist to thank for that.

I genuinely love the fact that some random, anti-fascist ninja went across Richard Spencer’s face like Bryan Fury’s forward forward right punch, rocking his dome, messing up his Nazi soldier haircut like it was a Hitler toupee. I’m glad they came to our city.  I’m glad they were there.  Talking to a few of them, they are most certainly against white supremacy, so I really don’t care anymore.  I’ve grown to love the anti-fascist rage.

Photography Credit: Johnny Silvercloud

Written by Johnny Silvercloud

The Soul Brother #1 of a Kind. Consequentialist street photographer abolitionist writer/speaker who stands for any oppressed peoples. I do it because every man and woman deserves freedom of thought -- especially black folks.

22 comments

  1. My friends and I have always believed you need two types of protestors. The peaceful organizers, and those that will lay out a nazi and the corporations that support the oppression by Nazis. No political protest of any magnitude successfully won by peaceful protest alone, not MLK, not Ghandi, hell, let’s look at the most “American” of protests, the Boston Tea Party. They destroyed property in protest and we celebrate them.

    You need the peaceful organizers, but you also need someone who will punch a nazi in the face.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Actually real neo Nazism forms from current cultural norms, from upholdingnamd beingncomplacebt in colonialism and capitalism, it forms from dehumanizing entire groups of people, and it forms when people like spencer are hiven a platform to speak. You give a fuck about the vandilism of PROPERTY, about people who spreadthe dehumanization that leads to violence for marginalized communities, you need to get yiur priorities straight. This is an act of self defense against a literal, actual, ongoing genocide of marginalized people.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is self defence to use violence to stop groups who want to dismiss, disregard, and eliminate certain categories of human beings. Or, your rights end where someone else’s begin. The position that it is alright to deny someone their humanity is violent, actions to negate that violence are SELF DEFENSE.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Fuck you and your fascist friends. The American people aren’t going to stand idly by and let you do this again. Period.

      Like

    4. This statement is false. Unless an anti-fascist carries on the next day doing some nazi shit (like wanting to exterminate entire peoples based on the color of their skin) than the actions of the anti-fascist remain just that: ANTI. FASCIST.
      I’ve never met an anti-fascist who was into being a fascist. Have you?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Starbucks claim to be fair trade but use prison slave labor from right here in the USA. Apparently it doesn’t count as slave labor to Starbucks when our own government is holding the whip (or really the guns).

    This is why anarchists are against capitalism and the state.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Look at Antifa as the freedom riders of 2017. We gotcha back kid! The more proper handle for this crowd is Black Bloc, an interesting history if you care to check into it. Antifa more specifically focuses on physically combatting fascism (doxing and communications networks), where da Bloc smashes shit and trolls the pigs into a street fight. The point of both is that people see that if they join us, we will be powerful enough to cause the State to seize up. Its not okay for even one single pig to think that she/he can lay a finger on ANYONE. They should be afraid.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it takes a lot of folks a second to snap out of that attitude that the peaceful status quo is the best way to proceed tactically, even folks who stand up against the status quo in other ways. This battle against fascists and white supremacy has flared up after WWII in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and now. It’s never really gone away. Stay with us for the long haul and we can drive these people out of society again together, if not once and for all.

    THanks for the pictures; really great documentary witness there.

    Oh, yeah, and watch out for neo-Nazis pretending to be antifa and all of that. They’ll dox you in a flat second, because they’re cowards in the streets.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have an issue with Antifa is brandishing communist symbols- communist nations are some of the most violent to their own innocent citizens. Black Bloc never used commie imagery because they are more based on anarchist ideology. I’m not sure it is accurate to lump these two groups. Also what happened in Berkeley was sus af- the cops didn’t even try to stop them. You addressed this but do you think DAPL or BLM protesters would be allowed to get away with that? Race has a role in this but I don’t think that is the only added element here. Guess we will have to see how this all plays out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Antifa in the U.S is anarcho-communist (in Europe they are more socialist). Thing is, as far as I understand it, communism is not supposed to be nationalistic or violent. It’s not even how Marx conceived the concept, it is supposed to be anarchal. Organized, community-based, socially equal, democratic anarchy. No hierarchy, no state. Those communist symbols are symbols of successful revolutions, however temporary the victory was.

      There is a big difference between a real communist and a tankie (or authoritarian communist).

      Like

  6. “Eventually the police separated the free press and freelancers from the mob, and ended the mini-riot.”
    This isn’t true. What is true:
    – J20 Organizers made press statements about expectation of civil disobedience and making space for a multitude of tactics
    http://www.disruptj20.org/massive-protests-at-trumps-inauguration-aim-to-set-a-tone-of-resistance-for-the-coming-years & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm7PQ2gyGAY
    – They arrested 222 demonstrators, legal observers and journalists:
    https://www.nlg.org/nlg-calls-on-dc-prosecutors-to-drop-all-charges-against-j20-demonstrators-legal-observers-and-journalists/
    – D.C. Mayor and Justice said they weren’t planning to make mass arrests
    http://dcist.com/2017/01/activists_planning_to_block_a_dozen.php
    – This is probably because D.C. has paid well over $20 million dollars in wrongful arrest suits made during the Bush-era:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/30/AR2010063005200.html

    I don’t really care about the larger point of your article. All protest is symbolic. All protest in the range of protest deserves scrutiny. The cops do not deserve your praise. I think you should issue a correction and now you can do a small bit of homework and research how your readers can “give thanks” by contributing to the legal defense funds of those with felony charges for expressing their constitutional rights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being that I was literally THERE, why I said was true — the police LITERALLY got inbetween US (freelance photographers and other associated press) and THEM (protesters in black). I can literally made a map overlay of how it all went down. I was literally there.

      I do agree that the police do not deserve praise; them not attacking photographers should be the standard, not the shocking rarity. I alluded to that point.

      Thanks for providing arrest numbers; I wasn’t there to know that because they SEPARATED US (free press) before they cordoned off the protesters as I originally stated. Being that they separated by wedging inbetween the photographers and protesters, I would not have that information first hand.

      I am a very busy person, so I’ll state that if you have links to how people can help these protesters to legal funds please provide that and I WILL add that to this article.

      Thank you, and enjoy the website.

      Like

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