“Nazi go home! Nazi go home!” a woman led a crowd into chanting at me as I was cornered against a barrier. A line of police officers stood watching a few feet away. Aiming a bullhorn at my face, the woman continued screaming while others pushed me.
Why did I receive this welcome in downtown Seattle? Because I dared to take a camera into an Antifa protest.
Last Saturday, around 150 left-wing activists mobilized outside Seattle City Hall to counter a similarly-sized event organized by the Washington State Three Percent, a conservative group that describes itself as constitutionalist. The counter-protest brought together a coalition of socialists, communists, and anarchists. They call themselves “Antifa,” or anti-fascist, in spite of their thuggish street behavior often directed at the innocent public. Some of them were dressed in black and wore masks, a tactic called “black bloc” designed to make it easier to remain anonymous while engaging in criminal activity.
The disinformation spread about me (e.g., that I am a “fascist”) was only a microcosm of the larger counter-protest. In fact, the entire demonstration was organized based on misinformation.
The Washington State Three Percent is a registered independent charity whose name pays homage to American colonists who fought for independence. The group unfortunately bears a similar name to the 3% Security Force, a radical anti-government militia that provided security for the Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist rally last year.
Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington State Three Percent, said the group rebukes any similar-sounding organization that promotes anti-government and bigoted causes. “We are a completely non-discriminatory organization,” he said. “I would challenge anyone to find a statement or action that would prove any of those claims.”
Intentional or not, leftist activists in Seattle rallied people to their cause by claiming the Washington group is filled with white supremacists and anti-Semites.
“These accusations are actually really hurtful to our Jewish, black, and Latino members,” a female member of the conservative group told me.
This isn’t the first time that Antifa in the Pacific Northwest has targeted the wrong people. At a demonstration in Portland, Oregon in August, a leftist man carrying an American flag was bashed on the head with a metal bat by a group of masked individuals dressed in black who thought he was a conservative. He was left on the ground in a pool of his own blood.