Coming together against hate in Syracuse

September 19, 2017

Christopher Hauck contributes to a report on anti-fascist organizing in Syracuse.

A NEW coalition calling itself Syracuse United Against Hate has come together in this upstate New York city in preparation for opposing any attempts by the far right to send their message of hate.

The coalition formed at a planning meeting that followed a 40-person strong speakout held downtown on September 9. That mobilization began as a counterprotest against a demonstration by ACT for America, the Islamophobic organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Several weeks before, ACT for America called off planned demonstrations in 36 cities after the upsurge of protest and outrage following the far right's deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But activists in Syracuse know ACT for America is continuing organizing, and they want to be ready if it tries to mobilize. Numerous organizations are voting on whether to endorse and send representatives to Syracuse United Against Hate meetings.

The call for a speakout on September 9 was organized at a meeting held on August 23. With the threat from ACT for America to mobilize still present, some 150 people pressed into the small basement of a social justice church.

At Syracuse University, hundreds of students walked out of classes to protest Trump's election
At Syracuse University, hundreds of students walked out of classes to protest Trump's election (Sam Ogozalek | The Daily Orange)

Among the speakers at the meeting was an Onondaga Nation clan mother who goes by the name of Freda. She talked about how white nationalists target her and her nation's people, and also referenced the many issues plaguing the Onondaga Nation, including a severely underfunded education system.

Nagesh, a member of the International Socialist Organization, talked about the need to protest the fascists after they gained confidence following their Charlottesville hatefest. The meeting came days after the 25,000-strong turnout of anti-fascists in Boston showed that the our side could outnumber and push back the far right.

Nikeeta, an organizer with the Workers Center in Syracuse, put forward the plan for a counter-mobilization on September 9, whether that would mean confronting the reactionaries or holding some kind of other event if they didn't show. The proposal gained a lot of support, with several people speaking about the need to defend different places from right-wing attack, including university campuses and minority communities.

Several days later, ACT for America announced it was canceling its demonstrations, leading to a smaller turnout on September 9. But some 40 people came out to the Columbus Statue, which is disgracefully located next to Onondaga Street.

An organizing meeting held after the speakout brought together representatives of different groups to put in place organizing structures for the new coalition.

Political discussion remains intense, with participants in the new organizing evaluating tactics and strategies to achieve our goal: defeating the fascists who try to organize in Syracuse.

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