Dallas, Texas — On Saturday the Dallas-based In Solidarity Movement held a demonstration called ‘Dallas Against White-Supremacy’ on the grounds of city hall in downtown Dallas. After the horrors of what occurred in Charlottesville the leadership for the In Solidarity Movement wanted to bring people together to denounce “white supremacy, neo-nazism, neo-confederates, the alt-right, and any other moniker you may know them by,” as well as demand the city take down the Confederate war memorial within the Pioneer Park Cemetery adjacent to city hall.
All religions, nationalities, and creeds were invited to the rally to show their support for the victims of Charlottesville, memorialize the loss of Heather Heyer who was killed after being struck by a vehicle driven into the crowd of counter-protesters by a known white nationalist, James Alex Fields Jr, and to demand the removal of the Confederate statues at the park.
All were welcome, all except ANITFA.
I arrived about an hour ahead of the designated start time of the demonstration to get the lay of the land; mainly to gauge where my exits to and from the park were to be plotted and to mark possible “chokepoints” the Dallas police department were surely to have. The early evening was still sticky as the temperate Texas summer heat of the day began to dissipate, I double checked my gear one more time to ensure I had all I needed for my link-up with the local chapter of ANTIFA that took me the better part of the week to negotiate.
I set up a “near and far” recognition routine with the ANTIFA rep, so they would know that I was the person they had been speaking with and to allow me to “embed” within their ranks. “We are at the statue” the text said, which was perfect as I was right across the street from Pioneer Park.
I once again checked that I had all I needed, personal medical kit, check; Pro-Tec helmet with goggles, check; batteries and cords needed to keep the cameras rolling, check; green bandana tied to my backpack for ANTIFA to identify me as the reporter they spoke with, check.
I geared up and as I was leaving the asphalt slab of the parking lot I saw a tall, skinny looking young man in full woodland camouflage, a floppy boonie hat, a plate carrier without the plates, and what looked like a Czechoslovakian made SKS semi-automatic rifle slung along his side walking toward the very park I was headed to. “Yup, this is the place,” I thought and moved on.
The Dallas police presence was very much on display, there were several police cruisers blocking the east and west routes along Young Street in front of the park and city hall with officers in various forms of protective gear sporting decked-out AR-15’s and watchful eyes. The officers were expecting the best out of the attendees but prepared for the worst.
Jubilant rally-goers were all over with signs and words of praise hurled towards one another as well as to the Dallas police, “Thank you for your service,” said one demonstrator, “We love you, Dallas PD!” from another. Yet, I kept an eye on the young man with the rifle and followed him at a distance into the park.
The 60-foot obelisk with a Confederate soldier came into view as I entered Pioneer Park Cemetery, below the soldier were four smaller statues two of which bore the likeness of the Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with the Confederate president Jefferson Davis closing the four-corner loop of the memorial. The memorial itself was surrounded by large metal barriers along with stern-faced Dallas police accompanied Texas State troopers decked out in riot gear, paintball guns full of pepperballs, and semi-automatic AR-15 patrol rifles. Yet, as I stood there I saw no signs of the black uniforms and masks of the ANTIFA.
Then shouts of “racist” and “No fascist USA!” began emanating from the other side of the park, a handful of counter-protesters had arrived. One such counter-protester who was receiving many of the insults and jeers from the crowd was decked out in a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt a “Make America Great Again” hat and a cape made from the flag of KEKistan, a fictional country made popular by members of the 4Chan /pol/, or politics section of the online bulletin board website where many of the ‘alt right’ commiserate and stir the pot of fringe politics of the right.
KEKistan-man was immediately surrounded by rally-goers who demanded explanations for his supposed racism and support of President Trump but to no avail. He tried desperately to explain free speech and who and what a KEKistani and the fictional country of KEKistan was, “It’s just a meme!” he kept replying with little effect. Several attempts by both sides for discourse quickly became drowned out as KEKistan-man and his few compatriots became focal points of the growing crowds disapproving shouts.
Off to the right of the verbal jousting taking place I saw the camouflaged young man had joined a group of similarly dressed individuals all in the same woodland pattern adorned with plate carriers and semi-automatic rifles and perplexingly one person with what looked like a hunting rifle dressed up to look like a sniper rifle. I approached one of the individuals who stood prominently in front of the small band of the camouflaged. Displayed on his tactical vest was the name “Stamper” and he carried a AR-15 painted in desert pattern like many on my team had painted on our service rifles while serving in the Green Berets.
I approached the group and asked who they were representing and the man in a tactical hat emblazoned with a subdued American flag who we will call “Stamper” replied that they were the Texas Elite III% militia and were at the rally to provide safety, security, and almost as if it was an afterthought, emergency medical (not one of them had any visible med-kits, first aid pouches, or trauma gear of any kind). Stamper along with his unnamed masked partner explained that they are not there opposing any side, only to ensure that individual freedom of speech and right to assemble wasn’t infringed upon by protesters of either side, along with local law enforcement.
The militia members also ensured that they were also there to augment local law enforcement on the chance that if a violent incident such as a “gun battle” erupted, that they would protect those unarmed rally-goers from harm. When I asked the person carrying a bolt-action hunting rifle what he could do with a “long-gun” in this urban close quarters scenario, he hid his face and walked away with no comment.
Stamper who admitted to have served with the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, echoed his approval of his masked friend simply shrugged as the “long-gun” walked away. Stamper also stated that they did not coordinate their intent with Dallas police department which, if such a violent incident did occur, could potentially make them a threat just as much as the perpetrator of this fictional scenario.
Still no signs of ANTIFA, even after I received a message saying “Touchdown, our representative is here and waiting.”
Pioneer Park Cemetery wasn’t the main gathering point for the Dallas Against White-Supremacy demonstration, the main group was over set up at the entrance to the Dallas City Hall about 800 feet from the park. I made my way over to the over 3,000 plus crowd that had already flocked to the steps of city hall and was met with a different vibe. It seemed more organized and somewhat peaceful compared to the other protest happening within the cemetery.
The crowd, who consisted of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Socialists, and clergy from all forms of religions were listening to various civil leaders and community members shouted anti white nationalist sentiments along with “Take them down!” in regards to the Confederate statues just feet away. Various signs displayed anti Nazi, white nationalist, and anti-Trump stances throughout the large gathering, yet no outward aggression was heard nor seen, especially towards Dallas police who formed a wall of sorts in front of the metal barriers closing off the entrance to city hall.
This [demonstration] was very well-coordinated with law enforcement and city hall.” said a shift commander from the Dallas Police Department who spoke with SOFREP and asked to remain anonymous. “So far this has been pretty peaceful, but we are prepared for the worst. I was there on July 7th, I put a tourniquet on one of the officers shot that day. That won’t happen again.”
The July 7th 2016 shootings in Dallas was the single deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement in America since September 11th 2001. Five Dallas police officers lost their lives with nine others injured at the hands of the Army Reservist, Micah Xavier Johnson who ambushed several police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest that day.
When asked about how he felt about the local militia being present at the park with semi-automatic rifles the police commander simply replied with “Well, it’s Texas. Everybody has guns here, its their right. Just like these people have the right to protest here. What would Texas be without freedom?”
Our conversation however was cut short with the loud bullhorn exclamation of “Fuck the PO-lice, Fuck Donald Trump!” ANTIFA had arrived, “I gotta go” the officer said and began making preparations with his officers in riot gear. They formed up in a tight battle line with the lead officer armed with a paintball gun loaded with pepper balls.
Initially the demonstrators who had turned to this cacophony of hate seemed stunned at the arrival of the ANTIFA until one brave demonstrator walked up to the black clad group and began shouting, “What does this have to do with Confederate statues!” He was then joined by others demanding that ANTIFA leave and exclaiming that they were not welcomed at all. More and more of the demonstrators joined in shouting “No more violence, no more Charlottesville’s!” The left were turning on them, fast and now the police helicopter above began spotlighting them.
ANTIFA were quickly surrounded and now being lit up like a Christmas tree with a phalanx of police in riot gear beginning to move in, they quickly left the scene. And I along with the police helicopter above followed them back to Pioneer Park.
Upon arriving back at the park, the police presence there had nearly tripled with riot police elbow-to-elbow as an angry group of protesters along with members of Black Lives Matter had encircled a small band of counter-protesters, some armed with rifles and shotguns, others with Confederate flags as capes. The counter-protesters were pushed all the way to the metal barriers by the angry crowd and as police were attempting to extract them, ANTIFA joined in with their bullhorns and bottles of fluids.
After the first bottle of “fluids” struck a police officer in the chest that was all the Dallas police along with the Texas State troopers needed to call in the horses and begin pushing the protest out of the park.
A short moment of panic ensued as the large beasts with riot gear and face shields moved in on the crowd, then something happened. Members of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement along with other protesters turned their anger to ANTIFA. BLM members came face-to-face with the anarcho-communists demanding that they take their masks off and leave the city with one shouting, “you will not ruin Black Lives Matter!” One member of ANTIFA called a BLM member an “Uncle Tom” and began chanting “He’s a COP! He’s a COP!” Instantly a fight broke out between the group and mace was sprayed and more bottles of “fluid” thrown.
BLM member tells Antifa to take their masks off and get out of his city. They punch him and accuse him of being a cop. What a shitshow 😂 pic.twitter.com/LmjO8Rtv5G
— Uncle Chang (@UncleChangNYC) August 20, 2017
Dallas police moved quickly and a period of chaos spread through the crowd as law enforcement began pushing the protest out of the park and onto Young Street. Some within the agitated group seemed to have no other target for their anger other than hurling it at the riot police with many yelling gibberish about a police state and requesting they answer to whom the police served. Amid the confusion and disorganization the members of ANTIFA disappeared into the humid Texas night.
I never truly did link up with ANTIFA and I, for one, am glad that I didn’t. I’m sure I would’ve been turned on by the crowd as well. Charlottesville seemed to have opened the eyes of both the anti-white nationalist, anti-Trump of the left — along with the pro-Trump conservative right. They clearly know who the fringe violence bringers truly are: the alt-right white nationalist movement and the now alt-left anarcho-communist movement of ANTIFA.
Both sides have learned that the violence seen in Charlottesville has no place in civil discourse, no matter what side you are on. And if Dallas is any indication as to how either side will now deal with these fringe groups, then members of the alt-right along with ANTIFA will not be welcomed back amongst their ranks any time soon.
Feature image courtesy of: Derek Gannon