Advertised as the “Battle of New Orleans 2017” on Facebook, the “Anti-Marxist Rally” on Saturday, October &, turned out to be much ado about nothing.
Hosted by Andrew “Black Rebel” Duncomb and Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman, the rally was set to last from noon to 5 p.m. at Jefferson Davis Park near the statue of Col. Charles Didier Dreux, the “first Confederate officer from Louisiana killed in the War Between the States.” Vandalism from May was still visible on the bust, with a chiseled away nose and circled As, representative of anarchists.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the rally was created in an effort to counter “radical alt-left groups who are out to destroy American Values, Constitutional Freedom, and Our American history and Southern Culture.” Namely, rally participants were concerned about the New Orleans antifa chapter they believe has grown exponentially, in regard to both membership and violence. In an effort to defend their freedoms from liberal attacks, Black Rebel and Based Stickman called upon “American Patriots” to unite in New Orleans.
By noon there were only a few rally participants on the green, with several Confederate, Gadsden, Thin Blue Line, and American flags. Around the corner a half block away, about 15 other rally participants — clad in neon “Hiwaymen” t-shirts, bulletproof vests and helmets — gathered. At about 12:15 p.m. these self-described “Patriots” marched in an unorganized mass to join the others at the statue 100 yards away. While organizers had promised five speakers, no such focal point ever coalesced. Rally participants seemed to mill around the park, shaking hands and waiting for any number of things to happen: Antifa to come, the speakers to begin or the impending hurricane to arrive. The crowd size increased a bit with the addition of a handful of men in fatigues — one with a Kekistani flag — however attendance never surpassed 40.
While several rally-goers and one speaker were from New Orleans, many participants had traveled from various places, including Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and California. Thus, the two most energized moments occurred when the outside agitators drew the ire of local New Orleans residents. One such incident involved a man walking his dog while yelling at the “Patriots” to go home because this is the “USA, not CSA,” to which one particular participant with alleged ties to the III%ers, responded with a barrage of swears and insults. Twenty minutes later, three local musicians, one of whom took a knee, played the National Anthem. Despite their motivation of protecting free speech, rally-goers met the counter protest with middle fingers and accusations of disrespectfulness.
Throughout the event the police presence was strong. Barricades had been set up length-wise on either side of Col. Dreux’s statue, presumably in an effort to separate any opposition that may have shown up. Several groups of five to 10 officers were stationed at various points throughout the park, with about 10 police cruisers at each nearby intersection, and a SWAT team on call several blocks away.
After roughly an hour of traipsing around in superfluous padding camo, bulletproof vests and skateboard helmets, and creating alt-right small talk about the mainstream media and the First Amendment, the sky darkened. Hurricane Nate moved in quickly with heavy rain and wind sending participants running for their cars. Nonplussed by the lackluster reception to his event, Black Rebel has created a Mardi Gras-themed raincheck rally for January 6, because nothing says “freedom of speech” like flashing people for beads.