By the Bright Lights of the Empire: Anti-Fascism in Vancouver

The recent anti-fascist mobilization in the City of Vancouver on August 19th drew thousands of people to City Hall. The media referred to this mobilization as anything but anti-fascist: anti-hate, pro-diversity, but definitely not anti-fascist. It didn’t matter that a local fascist group called the Soldiers of Odin was referenced in the call out, it still wasn’t anti-fascist. That would be too bold a stance for Vancouver liberals to take, especially given recent revelations of Russian bots seeding anti-antifa tweets and memes over the past weeks in an effort to make them panic. LOL.

The initial fascist call-out for August 19th was released by an apparent moron who used an image of the Expo Centre instead of City Hall to help his followers find their way. In the end, only a few masochistic trolls showed up to live-stream their inane behavior and document the “liberal menace” of Vancouver. During the massive mobilization against the absent fascists, the lone bearer of the black and red Antifa flag was repeatedly harassed by liberals for “bringing violence” to the peaceful demonstration. Truly a bizarre world, if we may say so.

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While we applaud the turnout and organization of this demonstration, the sense of peace and accomplishment that followed it pose a serious risk. While the fascists were clearly outnumbered in super-liberal and super-wealthy Vancouver, their street activities are largely unopposed in the eastern edge of the city and the suburbs beyond. One of the most noxious and violent of these groups are the Soldiers of Odin, an international fascist organization established in Finland with a chapter in Vancouver. In September of 2016, the group began to conduct street patrols in the Downtown Eastside, citing the high drug-use, poverty, and crime as their motivation. Most of the deadly overdoses and addiction on the Eastside stem from the use of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate frequently linked to China. With this drug consistently being imported to British Columbia from the Communist nation, the fascists have found an eager audience for their anti-immigrant, anti-global claims.

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In addition to this, the Soldiers of Odin also handed out food and supplies to the homeless and specifically targeted vulnerable women in the Downtown Eastside. As Anti-Racist Action Victoria reported, the Soldiers of Odin “are targeting women leaving abusive relationships with offers to accompany them to court dates and other support…women and girls are warned not to take handouts from SOO because of the risk of being coerced into gang activity. Social workers, shelter operators, and the general public are cautioned to watch out for these individuals and groups looking to gain access to vulnerable women and children, both online and in person.”

As news of these fascist foot-patrols spread over the interwebs, the response of most people was muted. While the luxury-capital of Vancouver kept flowing, the Soldiers of Odin grew increasingly emboldened and crept ever closer to Downtown. Meanwhile, a new “alt-right free speech club” appeared at the University of British Columbia campus who wore red hats emblazoned with the phrase MAKE CANADA GREAT AGAIN. When this pathetic group of morons were confronted by anarchists and antifascists at hangout in a bar downtown, each of them obscured their fascism behind the veil of free speech and democracy. There was no violence in this encounter, unlike the attack on the 38 Blood Alley anarchist social center in Gastown that took place two weeks later.

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While several members of the anarchist collective were preparing for a New Year’s 2017 party, several fascists stormed in and sprayed everyone with bear mace. While this attack was made widely public on the interwebs, the response from liberal Vancouver continued to be unsurprisingly muted, probably because they believe anarchists are viscous reptile demons spawned out of a cave in Switzerland with an inherent tendency towards non-rational violence. In any case, the anarchists of Vancouver remained marginalized and shunned in the peaceful, tranquil, and idyllic imperial metropolis and could only rely on themselves, their accomplices, and their comrades. How utterly typical.

After this attack, those able to summon their anger began to push back against this encroachment. Anti-fascists began their own patrols, put up posters, took down racist propaganda, and left their own graffiti across the Downtown Eastside (most notably the phrase ZONA ANTIFA). This back and forth continued for months, with one group constantly pushing against the other.

vancouver antifa

In late January, a coalition that included the IWW, anarchists, and anti-fascists held a march in the eastern suburb of New Westminster, pushing far outside the realm of the Downtown Eastside. This symbolic march of masked anti-fascists and their allies was a response to fascist posters spotted in the area. A few Hitlerian creeps from the “UBC Free Speech Club” showed up to troll the demo but they were quickly pushed out of the crowd. When the Trump Tower opened in Downtown that February, the various local fascists showed up to troll the large protests and defend their glorious leader from the United States. Later in March, a few Soldiers of Odin goons and the UBC Free Speech Club showed up at the International Day Against Racism march with their Canadian flag, threw a smoke-bomb, and engaged in a scuffle with anti-fascists. Three of these fascists were arrested by the VPD, taken away from the demo, and released without charges. No surprise.

Almost five months after the fascist attack on 38 Blood Alley, The Volcano ran an article which claimed the Soldiers of Odin were still “in East Vancouver and the Downtown Eastside intimidating people in the community. But we have not heard any concern about this from the VPD or the Mayor of Vancouver. We have clearly seen that white supremacists are not being the treated the same way as Black and Muslim people accused of extremism.”

In May of 2017, a schism arose between the Quebecois and Anglo-Canadian chapter of the Soldiers of Odin. Apparently, the Anglos wished to disassociate themselves from their Finnish masters and went so far as to label them “racist, unorganized, reckless” thugs. Along with their peers in the United States, these fascist groups are all falling apart in a spree of backstabbing that continues to this day. It would seem that authoritarian, hierarchical organizations don’t lend themselves to longterm survival, dynamism, nuance, diversity, flexibility, adaptability, creativity, or intelligence. Ha. Ha. Ha.

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(UBC Free Speech Club. LOL)

To tie it all up in a bow for our readers, when the massive anti-racist demo took place at City Hall on August 19th, 2017, the Soldiers of Odin were nowhere to be found. The local chapter’s Facebook page has gone pretty silent and their little party seems to be fizzling out. All it took to accomplish this was actual organizing on the ground, IRL, in situ. Meanwhile, back in the ivory tower, the fascist twerps at the UBC Free Speech Club are still bouncing around under the cover of being affluent students with a right to “free speech.” In the current political context, please feel free to say hello if you happen to see them on campus. Canada is a free country, eh? Regardless, we wish you all the very best. From the tranquil social-democracy of Vancouver, BC to the organic bird-sweaters of Portland, OR, we’re all in this mess together. Take care.

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