In 28 cities around the country, Act for America, an anti-Muslim hate group is organizing a series of events called “March Against Sharia.”
••• Signing off for tonight. Look for more in-depth coverage of ACT's "Anti Sharia" marches from Hatewatch in the days to come..
“We, at ACT for America, are committed to protecting women and children from Sharia Law and its impact on Muslim women and children including honor killing and Female Genital Mutilation,” ACT’s website reads. “We must ensure that every woman and child enjoy the protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution.”
ACT’s protests are attracting a host of anti-government and far-right extremists, who have publically stated that they plan on attending today’s events. ACT has already had to cancel its Batesville, Arkansas rally after the SPLC revealed that neo-Nazi Billy Roper was the main organizer.
Antifa groups are set to counter-protest in a number of cities, increasing the potential for violence, but civil rights groups and other local activists also have planned a number of positive events to counter ACT’s hate.
Hatewatch will be running a constantly updated live-blog below, monitoring and reporting on the rallies taking place in 19 states. The proceedings will also be documented on Hatewatch’s Twitter account where we will be using the hashtag #counterACThate.
Scroll down for updates as they happen.
BATESVILLE, AR — Neo-Nazi Billy Roper held his own march despite being taken off the official ACT list of events. ACT removed Roper’s march after the SPLC revealed that he was organizing the Batesville event. Roper’s event was attended by a smattering of white nationalists including one wearing a “White Pride World Wide” shirt and another with a shirt that read, “Diversity is Just a Genocidal SCAM.” Roper also held a “Draw Mohammad” contest at his small event.
HARRISBURG — Half-a-dozen members of Soldiers of Odin were in attendance. Though classified by SPLC as an anti-Muslim hate group, Soldiers of Odin has attracted racists from across the spectrum. The group was originally founded in Finland as a response to acceptance of refugees from the Middle East
St. PAUL — Seven protesters, the majority of them protesting the “March Against Sharia” event, were arrested after fights broke out between the two groups. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Several fights then erupted between the two groups, drawing shoves, kicks and fists. Troopers lined up to separate the counter protesters from the anti-sharia group, who were backed up against a building across the Capitol lawn. Scuffles ensued as tension built, with many counter protesters criticizing officers.”
Three Percenters and Oath Keepers provided security at this event which actually took place inside the Capitol building.
PHOENIX — Heavily-armed demonstrators came ready to rumble Saturday at ACT for America’s March Against Sharia rally in Phoenix’s Paradise Valley Park, but only words were exchanged between the anti-sharia crowd and those gathered to oppose them.
It helped that the two events were on opposite ends of the large, sprawling park. Neither side could see the other, unless they made a point of traversing the distance.
This happened a couple of times on either side, but resulted in no violence, and no arrests by the Phoenix Police Department.
Many of the ACT for America demonstrators were armed with handguns on their hips. If that wasn't enough, around 20 members of the Arizona Liberty Guard militia, dressed in fatigues and carrying AR-15s, patrolled a grassy area cordoned off by the organizers with yellow police tape.
Around a dozen armed Oath Keepers seemed to be patrolling the crowd, and there were another dozen or so self-identifying Proud Boys and stick men, prepared for battle, some in helmets featuring Pepe the Frog and Confederate battle flags, others with long, heavy poles bearing the U.S. flag.
T-shirts ran the gamut from "F--- Islam" and "Punch an Antifa" to those that read "Proud Infidel." Homemade signs warned of the evils of sharia law. Demonstrators gathered around a tree to listen to horrific tales of honor killings and female genital mutilation, which one speaker claimed were "common" in America.
Anti-Islam lecturer Dr. Carl Goldberg told the audience that Islam was a totalitarian ideology on par with Nazism, and he accused U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of being aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a conversation with a Hatewatch reporter, Goldberg admitted that he did not speak Arabic and said that his PhD was in European and Russian history.
The peace-and-love CounterACT Hate demonstration on the other end of the park was led by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud, and was protected by a contingent of the left-wing John Brown Gun Club, wearing red kerchiefs around their necks.
JBLC members were not carrying rifles and said they had no intention of squaring off with the armed factions at the ACT event, though they insinuated that they might be carrying concealed, which is legal in Arizona.
PHOENIX — Arizona Liberty Guard, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and more at the Phoenix "March Against Sharia."
ROSEVILLE — Nathan Damigo, the founder of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, was in attendance at the Roseville, California rally. Damigo’s group has been active at many of the rallies so far today. Damigo is a former Marine corporal who discovered his inner white nationalist by reading the work of Holocaust-denying ex-Klansman David Duke while serving five years for armed robbery (while drunk, he put a gun to the head of a cab driver he thought was Iraqi and stole $43).
Also at the Roseville rally was a blatantly anti-Semitic sign claiming that ISIS is working for the Israeli government complete with the line “ISIS Securing Land for Greater Israel” and “Israel = ISIS.” The sign also had a large picture of the USS Liberty, a ship attacked by the Israeli Air Force in 1967 by mistake. A number of anti-Semites including David Duke peddle the conspiracy theory that the Israelis attacked the ship on purpose.
RALEIGH — Oath Keepers show up at the Raleigh "March Against Sharia" event.
DALLAS — At the Dallas March Against Sharia, Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the anti-government group Oath Keepers is in attendance along with a number of other heavily-armed activists. Rhodes’ group and ACT for America, the anti-Muslim group who organized the rallies, have moved much closer over the past few years culminating in Oath Keepers putting out a call to action, encouraging all able-bodied members to attend the ACT events and help with security. Rhodes, who is based in Montana, has been at a number of protests around the country recently, including in Berkeley, Boston and Portland.
SAN BERNARDINO — Law enforcement on horseback keep "March Against Sharia" supporters, who wave signs saying "Da Goyim Know," and "Sharia is Diarrhea," and counter protesters separated. Proud Boys are also present.
SEATTLE — A small gathering of less than a hundred ACT supporters showed up at Seattle’s City Hall Plaza on Saturday and soon found themselves outnumbered by a massive counter-protest of around a thousand people who showed up to voice their disapproval.
The large crowd was deafening at times, though held back by a large police cordon, and various speakers inside the plaza had to shout to be heard.
“ACT! for America is not an anti-Muslim organization!” asserted rally organizer Anthony Parish. “We are anti-radical Islam!”
Meanwhile, ACT! supporters carried signs labeling the Muslim prophet Muhammad a pedophile; others denounced Islam and the supposed threat of Sharia law: “No Shitria” read one.
Several Oath Keepers were present in the crowd, providing “security” by escorting random protesters from the plaza.
The huge crowd across the street from the plaza, which called itself “Seattle Stands With Our Muslim Neighbors,” remained during the three hours or so the rally went on. A handful of fights broke out as the diminutive cluster of anti-Muslim marchers attempted to march from the plaza to Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, a few blocks away. Police said several protesters were arrested in the fighting.
SEATTLE — Flyers glorifying violence against Antifa groups bearing the name of the group “Generation Europa” were distributed. Generation Europa is another extremist group active in Europe and now appears to have a presence in the United States.
SEATTLE — Early word is that the counter-protestors, many of whom are participating in the "Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors" event, outnumber "March Against Sharia" attendees by as much as 10 to one.
SEATTLE — Here's a flyer that was distributed at the Seattle "March Against Sharia."
ATLANTA — Around 20 to 30 rally-goers and a handful of counter protestors appeared at Piedmont Park this morning for the “March Against Sharia.” Counter-protestors held a banner reading “Refuse Fascism” and chanted while the protesters, organized by local ACT For America members, hectored back with shouts about female genital mutilation, honor killings, and calling the Prophet Mohamed a “pedophile warlord.”
Also in attendance were fully armed members of the Georgia III Percent Security Force, including founder Chris “Blood Agent” Hill. Militia members confirmed that they were invited by ACT For America to provide for “security,” though militia members engaged with press and passersby about the evils of Islam and encroaching Sharia law in the United States. “We are experiencing Sharia law in the Unites States right now,” one militia member said.
After counter protestors left, Republican Georgia State Senator and candidate for governor Michael Williams (pictured below) addressed the rally, calling on attendees to “unite against Sharia law.”
“Overseas, in Europe, and in other places, they are throwing people off of buildings, they are decapitating people, because they do not believe what they should believe,” Williams said. Williams also posed with the III Percent militia members.
The rally was organized by Arch Kennedy, an openly gay man and a conservative who publishes a blog called “The Unlikely Conservative.” Kennedy said that he only recently began working with ACT For America.
SYRACUSE — There were less than 40 people attending the ACT for America rally in the plaza outside the Hanley Federal Building, with another 40 militia types acted as "security." They arrived around 9:30 and lined up along the perimeter of the plaza. A half an hour later a group of antifa marched up from a few blocks away. The antifa set up in a parking lot across the street from the plaza. For the next while, the antifa and the folks from ACT shouted at each other. Then the ACT folks started their rally. The antifa and other counter-demonstrators moved to a different location across the street from the plaza, getting closer to the rally to try to drown out the speaker. The rally didn't last too long. Most of the day so far has been antifa and ACT yelling and chanting at each other from across the street. Neither side has tried to cross the street to confront the other side. There were some tense moments in the first half hour where folks from both sides took a couple steps into the street, but their friends pulled them back and the police stepped forward to make sure they stayed apart. As the picture shows, there are far more counter-demonstrators than on the ACT side.
AUSTIN — At around 11:30 a.m., Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Texas State Militia were seen patrolling the crowd.
AUSTIN — Antifascist protestors, many of whom were armed with pistols and some with assault weapons, confronted anti-Sharia protestors on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol, The professors, though, came in number, carrying "Kekistani" flags and signs that said "Sharia violates women," "Drain the Swamp" and some that equated Sharia to a "Death Cult." The scene quickly devolved into a cacophony of competing chants, screams and yells.
INDIANAPOLIS —In Indianapolis, the March Against Sharia was sparsely attended. During his speech, march organizer Randy Kemp of ACT’s Southern Indiana chapter accused the Muslim civil rights group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Brotherhood of paying for an anti-Muslim billboard that appeared in Indianapolis recently according to reporter Ruth Serven. The anti-government group Oath Keepers and other militia groups were in attendance, as is the case with many of the other rallies today.
INDIANAPOLIS — At the Indy rally, the IE state coordinator John Richardson spoke, despite ACT’s pledge opposing discrimination. The coordinator stated, "We're here to support the March Against Sharia, but we're here to take it a bit further."
NEW YORK CITY — Vanguard America, another white nationalist group that conducts flyer campaigns on college campuses, was also in attendance at the New York rally. According to the Washington Post, Vanguard spokesman Francisco Rivera stated, “I don’t believe in having Muslims in the United States. Their culture is incompatible with ours.”
Gavin McInnes, a right-wing commentator and founder of the Proud Boys spoke at the New York “March Against Sharia” One of the pillars of the March was the line “we stand against the oppression of women.” However, McInnes, a “neo-masculine reactionary,” has made a number of blatantly misogynistic comments, notably on Twitter. On Fox News in 2016 he stated, “By every metric, men have it worse off. We’re more likely to get raped if you include prison, we’re more likely to be assaulted, we’re more likely to die, we’re more likely to commit suicide.” In December of 2015 he Tweeted, “Every guy I've ever known to be involved in a ‘domestic’ was the result of some c--- trying to ruin his life.” In February of this year he Tweeted, “When I hear women talk about politics and so often put emotional claptrap over policy, I think, "Who let these b------ vote
NEW YORK CITY — The white nationalist group Identity Evropa is at the New York City "March Against Sharia" event. The group, made up of younger white nationalists, has organized flyer campaigns at colleges and cities across the country since its founding in March 2016. Reporter Alex Rubenstein who is on the scene photographed what he believed to be a dozen Identity Evropa members who posed for photographs at the ACT rally. A representative from the group spoke at the rally in Indianapolis today. The anti-government group Oath Keepers are also acting as security for the NYC event.
NEW YORK CITY — The Oath Keeprs have arrived at the New York March for Sharia as promised. They have pledged to provide security at a number of rallies across the country. Here's a livestream of the NYC event.
ORLANDO — Geoffrey Grooms of the League of the South, a racist neo-Confederate group advocating for a second Southern secession, joined the ACT for America "March Against Sharia."
ORLANDO — Led by Jacob Engels of the CentralFlorida Post, the crowd chants "Don't clip the clit!"
ORLANDO — White nationalist Augustus Sol Invictus addresses the sparse crowd. Leads chant of "One people, one nation, end immigration!"
ORLANDO — Members of Idenity Evropa, a white nationalist group founded by Nathan Damigo, are on scene.
ORLANDO — In advance of the rally, A band of Proud Boys — an alt-right Fight club — prepare for the "March Against Sharia" in Orlando.