ACT for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim organization, has announced the replacement of its 67 ‘America First’ rallies across 36 states with an online ‘Day of ACTion’ on September 9.
The rallies were planned to support President Donald Trump’s immigration, refugee and border policies. ACT for America says the abrupt change in plans is due to “recent violence in America and in Europe.”
The decision comes on the heels of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which three people died and 35 were injured. Many have expressed concerns in having similar rallies in their communities, fearing violence. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in response to ACT for America’s planned rally in Milwaukee, said:
My message to them is ‘We don't want you here.’ We don't want any Nazi groups here, any white supremacist or ‘alt-right’ groups who are coming because this is a city of inclusion. It's not a city of exclusion, and it’s not a city of white supremacy so go somewhere else and bother the people there.
In June, the organization planned ‘March Against Sharia’ rallies in 28 cities across the country. As SPLC previously documented, many of the rallies were widely attended by racist ‘alt-right’ groups including the “blood and soil” fascist group Vanguard America and the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, as well as armed right-wing militias. A rally scheduled for Batesville, Arkansas, was to have been organized by longtime neo-Nazi Billy Roper.
ACT for America typically attempts to distance itself from members who are revealed to be extremists. Only after the SPLC revealed Roper’s racist past and current beliefs did ACT for America drop sponsorship of the event. Roper still hosted his own march, however, which included a “Draw Mohammad” contest and attendees in “White Pride World Wide” shirts.
Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, released a statement that read in part:
In recent weeks, extremist and radical organizations in the United States and abroad have overrun peaceful events in order to advance their own agendas, and in many cases, violence has been the result. Given the security issues of organizing public events, the responsible decision is to deny this opportunity to Neo-Nazis, Antifa, the KKK, and ISIS inspired individuals and groups. ACT for America’s membership is patriotic citizens whose only goal is to celebrate America’s values and peacefully express their views regarding national security.
The statement conveniently ignores the participation of neo-Nazis and white nationalist alt-right groups in ACT for America’s June rallies, and comes after tens of thousands of Bostonians rallied against a “free speech” rally that originally featured prominent figures of the alt-right.
ACT provided the announcement as an “exclusive” to Breitbart News, which Stephen K. Bannon, who recently returned to the publication after serving in the White House, once called “the platform for the alt-right.” The publication has a long history of publishing anti-Muslim extremists and is known for its fearmongering coverage of the refugee crisis.