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A NEW MEANING TO THE WORD ‘FEMINAZI’

Ok so first of all let us welcome our friends over there from 120dB! Congratulations on successfully crossing the border… I can proudly say that I am standing here alongside the true daughters of Europa.

smash nfBut jokes aside we are here because we want to provide another narrative from that of 120dB. To say that to criminalize migrants, distort rape statistics and create a moral panic is not going help women! It is not going to help white women, women of colour, disabled women, nor the queer community and it is definitely not going to help migrant women. But it will help fascists!

Let’s remember that being a woman is not a disqualifying factor for being a Nazi! 120dB try to neutralize their words. They claim to be speaking on behalf of all women, on behalf of all victims of sexual assault. But they are not. Skewing statistics on a propaganda push, demanding deportations, the integrity of the ethno-state and the criminalization of refuges and migrants are political positions. Utilising the violence that is committed against women for the purpose of perpetuating bigotry, racism and fear is a political choice. One that Annika, and the other women of 120dB have taken. So on a day of feminist resistance lets not take Annika and her fellow activists as the stereotype of the passive woman that we all know to be untrue. Let’s take them as what they are, which is far right militant activists. They use the violence which is carried out against women’s bodies and which women are brought up to fear from birth for the purpose of a far-right political project.

120dB claim that 68% of rapes occurring in Europe are carried out by migrants and refugees (the underlying connotation here is Muslims). This is statistically completely and utterly untrue. The statistics available tell us that in the UK 45% of rapes are carried out by partners or ex partners, 38% by someone known to the victim and 5% by a family member totaling to 88%, only 12% accounts for sexual assaults carried out by a person unknow to the victim. (1)

120dB play on the fear that we as women all know of walking around at night and being sexually assaulted on the way home. But what the statistics tell us is that a woman is 88% more likely to be sexually assaulted by a member of her own community, to be assaulted by her boyfriend, by her friend, by her boss or her carer. Annika in one of her famous interviews has claimed that these kinds of rapes do not contain violence. We ask her what does she think rape is? Statistics tell us that when migrant men rape, just like European men rape they will be more likely to rape a member of their own community. The victims of these assaults will predominantly be the same migrant women which 120dB seeks to marginalize.

The same women who due to their legal status are roughly 25% less likely to report sexual assault for fear of deportation or lack of faith in the police. The same women, 69.3%(1) of which are reported to have endured sexual violence in and on their journey to Europe. The same women who are predominantly fleeing warzones where rape is used as a weapon of war.

If 120dB is interested ending sexual assault, in a country where the rate of conviction for the perpetrator is at 5.7%(2) their time would be better spent lobbying the British government to adapt its legal system to effectively prosecute cases of sexual assault. If 120dB cared about ending sexual assault they wouldn’t propagate outdated and revolting narratives which are better left to the KKK of unknown black men raping white women dark alleys. Because this fear mongering doesn’t adequately prepare young women for the sexual assault they will receive in their lives. This doesn’t prepare women to expect to be raped by their boyfriends, their friends and their bosses. And this doesn’t prepare communities and legal systems to adequately deal with rape. Because when a woman is raped by her friend, her boyfriend, her carer, her boss what we are told is there isn’t enough evidence. What we are told is that if she consented before she could have consented again, that if she didn’t wan to have sex she shouldn’t have slept at her friend’s house while inebriated, that she wasn’t raped, that she was claiming the ladder by sleeping with the boss, that her carer couldn’t have possibly raped her.

So we ask you 120dB why don’t you lobby for this? Why don’t you valuably spend your time on something actually useful rather than creating moral panics and using the violence and torture which was executed against survivors for your own political purposes? The sexual assaults which 120dB site are the worst violations and we say to the victims we are here for you and we believe you.

And we believe Chelsey who in 2016 was raped by six men but unlike the right: first the BNP, then Britain First and then Tommy Robinson, we won’t use you as a propaganda machine, as a cash cow and we won’t drop you as soon as we discover that the legal system in Britain is skewed not to believe survivors. Sorry Tommy but in November you promised to continue on fighting for Chelsey you promised that this wouldn’t be the end of the campaign. That was in November. And you have maintained radio silence since.  Because you didn’t really care about rape, what you cared about was the headlines, and the publicity, and as soon as you discovered what the reality of being a survivor in Britain was you dropped out. Because you didn’t want your xenophobic and bigoted fans to lose faith in you because Chelsey had served her purpose.

And Just as Tommy, and Jayda and Paul Golding used Chelsey, 120dB use survivors in Germany, Italy, France to build their movement and that of Generation Identity to raise money, notoriety to get bigger. They claim that they are reporting what the mainstream news isn’t, well fucking bullshit. Did the news not report the murder of Pamela? The 18 year old girl who was murdered and stuffed into a suitcase in Macerata Italy. Didn’t the Italian and international media not jump on the story (the same story that you link in your promotional videos) and didn’t the news instantly disclose the nationality of the three accused… and didn’t Luca Triani, a far right militant from casa pound with a copy of Mein Kampf in his house, and an Italian flag around his shoulder, not get in his car and go on a shooting spree of Senegalese migrants in a so called revenge killing? To later find that the charges against the two Nigerian men accused had been dropped because the prosecution discovered that the two men couldn’t have possibly been linked to Pamela and her murder, resulting in Pamela’s uncle and family lawyer denouncing the course of investigation as embarrassing due to its failure to identify a plausible motive or even evidence.

Annika, 120dB the media, European legal systems and public opinion are already skewed against migrants, refugees and people of colour, your work has already been done for you, it is unnecessary. The work that hasn’t been done is that of allowing women to be believed when they say that they have been raped or sexually assaulted. And the only way that a true feminist movement can take place is if it accounts for all women and not ONE LESS. That is anti-fascist, anti-racist, queer feminism. And if we are going to call a fucking movement something lets fucking call it baseball bats, because the sound of a rape alarm doesn’t reassure me. We as women stand together from Rojava to Europe and in the spirit of Anna Campbell we say Jin Jiyan Azadi, women, life, freedom.

1) https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php

2)http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/319311/9-Sexual-violence-refugee-women.pdf?ua=1

3)https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php

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FULL TRANSCRIBED INTERVIEW WITH CoNaSP TRAINERS GIULIO (Palestra Popolare Valetio Verbano) & LUIGI (Palestra Popolare Palermo)

Giulio: Trainer and organizer from Palestra Popolare Valerio Verbano (Tofello, Rome)

Q: Tell us a bit about the history of the gym.

G:  The gym was first squatted in 2005. When we entered into the building it was in a terrible state. We realized straight away that to make the building functional we would need a lot of funds. There was still no agreement amongst people over whether to turn the building into a gym, a theatre or a regular social centre. We weren’t able to reach a consensus and the building was in such disrepair (bits of the ceiling and wall were missing ect..) that the idea fell almost straight away. There were a few months of stalling and in the intermitted period the property owners put the locks back onto the building and repossessed it. However the occupation had started a discussion amongst the locals and other comrades over wanting to create a space of gathering that wasn’t the typical social centre. And the discussion went on long after the occupation.

We decided to set up a series of activities to finance the project (dinners, concerts, debates … these types of things.) – To raise funds to understand if we could set up a starting budget that we could work with to try and do up the building. So in 2007 we reoccupied the space. Many realities no longer existed, we had already set up the Valerio Verbano Association ONLUS (a Not for Profit) that dealt with a lot of the money. We cut off the locks and re entered the building. The works began and lasted about 13 months. (We entered the building September 2007 and the official opening was in October 2008). In the process we took out a bank loan, and one of the comrades even remortgaged his grandmother’s house!!. She lived in the neighborhood, had been a partisan and was heavily involved and wanted to see the gym project working out. Especially because there are many young people in the neighborhood, a lot of drugs and addiction, a lot of crime, and setting up a gym (a healthy space) which would take young people off the streets appealed to many members of the neighborhood. This was essential.

And so we began this adventure, a lot of us already had experience, for example I had already been a coach in another Palestra Popolare for three years. Other coaches either came from the same background or had trained in ‘traditional’ gyms. So more or less we had a good base to start from. From here on we began this journey, primarily focused on combat sports but mainly because the majority of us came from those disciplines. The first year at the gym was almost too good. We had an overwhelming response from the people of the neighborhood, other people heard about the gym and came from outside. This galvanized us, we were young and believed that we had already done large part of the work, so we relaxed a little bit. And the second year we risked a complete flop. We realized that we wanted to carry forward the idea of popular sport in a serious manner (working to compete at the regional and national level, bringing young people to compete.) So we decided we needed a person who would dedicate themselves full time to the managing of the gym. We began a process of accounting to evaluate our finances to understand clearly whether we could finance this. The person wouldn’t receive a full paycheck but some money, because if you are here every day morning till night you are not going to be able to go out and earn even 200 euros.  So yes, we set this up and from there on we had an exponential growth. This October we will be celebrating 10 years and we have become one of the focal points not just in Italy but other parts of Europe too.

Q: Why have you been so successful, do you think?

G: I think we have been so successful because we have managed to unhinge that mechanism by which the Palestra Popolare is identified as that place where militants train. For us it is not like that, we have always reasoned that popular sport needs to be just that (popular.) Today Sport has been completely taken away from working class people, there is juts not the same access as there used to be. You used to be able to access the ‘Dopo Lavoro Ferroviario’ (after work social and cultural associations) where people could pay very little and train. Today sport has become a commodity in the worst manner possible, I call gyms (in a joking way) the shopping malls of sport. You need a bank account, you need an IBAN, you spend 100 euros a month… which a working class person just cannot afford. So our logic was that with the term ‘popolare’ we have give back to the people that which has been taken from them. And in this case we utilized sport.

Now, how do I give it back to you? I have to give it back in a manner which allows a person to train in the best way possible at a working class price. Here we charge 30 euros a month and provide qualified instructors, personal trainers, doctors, physiotherapists and nutritionists. You have a team of people that follow you and take you to compete both at the regional and national level (for those who want) and at an amateur level for those who want. We have a series of courses at both a competitive and amateur level.

Q: You are part of a network, tell us about it.

G: Yes! Rete CoNaSP: Coordinamento Nazionale Dello Sport Popolare (translates as: National Coordination of Popular Sport.) It was born in 2014 from a series of national realities. Unfortunately often when you set up these projects between those who want to lead, those who want to push the their own political line… we didn’t manage to include all the gyms. We realized that unfortunately many popular gyms only do a political logic and this cannot work for us. I cannot think to ask someone who walks through the door whether they are a comrade, whether they have a membership to a group. It is clear that a right wing militant would never enter a palestra popolare. But yes, this created a split because some say that a popular gym needs to be for antifascist militants.  A palestra popolare in itself has antifascist values, I don’t need to write that we are an antifascist gym, we are called Palestra Popolare Valerio Verbano (named after a 19 year old antifascist who was killed in his house by fascists.) So the nature of the gym is clear. Anyways, this debate reduced the number of gyms that adhere to CoNaSP. Many of these other gyms are not at a high level where they can integrate properly into the network anyways but for us it was a shame because this could have been a real opportunity. At the end of the day none of us wanted to syndicate over the how or the why.

We have 9 gyms in Italy and we created this network to make sure that we could ensure a growth both in organization and in training. And since forming the network we have seen an exponential growth for both trainers and athletes. Fundamentally CoNaSP is a network which allows trainers, athletes and participants in general to continually share skills through stages, seminars and meetings. But sport takes the centre of the discussion and is the central knot of the discussion. It is clear that the political discourse is linked (because we all come from these realities) but it is more like a politics in the context of sport. E.g. how do we fight the mafia mechanisms of federations, how do we overcome sexism and racism in the sphere of sport etc.

Q: How is it that inequalities are addressed?

G:  Combat sports have always had the taboo e.g. ‘She’s a woman and a boxer??’ I think that the best answer is given by the woman herself. I have trained so many women that would completely destroy a man. This is because those who practice a combat sport are those who believe in that discipline. Obviously at the official level, if the matchmaker instead of looking at the performance of a fighter is looking at her ass I intervene and call the person responsible. Denouncing these things publicly helps to break this systemic behavior. In the gym this issue does not arise.

Q: What is the relationship between antifascism and the gym?

G:  The relationship is implicit in the name of the gym. We dedicated this gym to Valerio Verbano, a comrade of the Autonomia Operaia. He picked a particular path. He decided to investigate (through photographic and written dossiers) the relationship between the state, right wing extremist groups and mafia organizations, and publish these with names and information. He chose this type of action which cost him his life when he was shot in the back in his home in front of his parents by two fascists. So dedicating this gym to his memory is emblematic of or antifascism.

In the gym my way of practicing antifascism is to make sure that children and young people grow up with values of equality and anti-racism; making them grow up with the consciousness of our histories, without indoctrinating them. I don’t come to you and tell you ‘you have to be x and y’, I make you come to your own conclusions. My antifascism is producing culture and at a historical time when statistics tell us that 47% of Italians are functionally illiterate. So putting young people in a position to understand a series of things is really important.

Of course outside of the gym my antifascism takes another shape.

 

Q: Casa Pound has developed its own Muay Thai gyms, can you tell us about them?

G: Yes: Il Circuito – Circolo Combattenti Casa Pound. Fundamentally it is our parallel. It is a circuit which is parallel to the Palestre Popolari. Unfortunately all these pretty words that they have used, probably stealing them from our own lexicon have obviously proven to just be pissing into the wind. Every single time where there have been assaults in Italy where people from Casa Pound were involved all of them have been linked to the Circuito. The most recent instance (just to cite one) is when the comrades from the Squadra di Calcio Ardita (San Paolo) were assaulted. 9 People were arrested, all nine were members of the Circuito Casa Pound in Viterbo.

The (Il Circuito Circolo Combattenti Casa Pound) have their own network, they compete in tournaments at a national level. But they are not well seen, it often happens that they are asked to leave. It happened recently in a circuit organized by a organization for the promotion of sport. They were asked to leave after they performed the Roman salute following a match. The referee asked them to leave and called them crazy. At an institutional level they are not well seen.

In fact they often operate in closed circuits where they basically just fight against each other and just beat the shit out of each other and that’s the end of the story. This is a system which we don’t like to adopt. Yes if we have a tournament where different palestre popolari come together for a day and compete and share skills, ok. But in relation to antifascism, when I do a competition I find myself fighting against a fascist, and it is there that I need to prove my worth. Because I can guarantee that if I enter the ring with the Palestra Popolare Valerio Verbano Shirt (or any other palestra popolare gym) and you find yourself in front of a right wing militant his instinct is to beat the shit out of you. So either you beat him or you’re fucked.

 

Luigi: Trainer and organizer from Palestra Popolare Palermo (Sicily)

Q: Tell us about Palestra Popolare Palermo

L:  Palestra Popolare Palermo was born as an ‘Associazion Sportiva’ in 2013. And it is an association which operates in official circuits above all in three disciplines: Boxing, Muay Thai and Powerlifting. It is the culmination of a journey that started in 2003. It began in a social centre (Centro Sociale ExKarcere) The gym still operates in an occupied space. And it was born from a need by the collective that organized the space to be able to practice sport outside the logic of the market. Inside a space free of racial, gender and class based discrimination.

This project is attractive to all different components of the city. So basically, not only for comrades, not only for those who are politicized, especially in the proletarian sections of the city. We pose ourselves the problem of how to integrate different groups of people without being a reality that offers less than other realities. People began to train in the gym, but soon they wanted to do a qualitative jump towards the competitive level and we were unable to provide this (even at the organizational level, we had been left out from the official circuits of sport.)

So the important issue was this: to not forgo any aspects of our project (being antifascist, antiracist, antisexist, anticapitalist) whilst still being able to integrate within the official circuits of sport. Even because it is in these spaces (outside of the social centre) that people who are not politicized practice sport. So we set up this ASD: Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica (amateur sport association.) Within the statute of the ASD we clearly state our politics and what sport means to us (the popular vision of sport.) So yes, we began this journey and achieved great results right from the start. Initially exclusively in boxing, but subsequently in other disciplines eg. Muay Thai and Powerlifing. We have several semi professional boxers, whilst in May 2018 our boxer Gainluca Bentivegna will be competing for the National Belt for the super-lightweights category. Our Verdiana Mineo has also just qualified first place in the regional Powerlifting championship for her weight and overall. This is kind of our dynamic.

So we are an ASD and as a project we adhere to CoNaSP, which I am sure Giulio has told you about. In CoNaSP we try to carry forward a parallelism between involving people into our political project whilst providing a quality of sport that is excellent and no lesser than what you could find in another gym.

We think that to do sport in a popular manner should be an added value, not something that substitutes the quality of the sport that is taught and practiced.

Q: Do you have any advice for emerging red gyms?

L: The important thing for all spaces that have the objective of conveying a political message is to not close off from the rest of the community, to not exclude. To convey these messages (and not just simply preach to the converted) these spaces need to be open to the city. And if the city cannot reach these spaces, it is these spaces that need to go where people are.

For example, this is why in Palermo we have recently began a project where we go to a college and set up boxing classes in the school gym. Because it is not the identity of the space that characterizes the message, but it is the message that characterizes the identity of the space. The lessons we teach have a political edge that is characterized by us who put on the course.

Often there is a risk (and in Italy some gyms are going in this direction) of creating a space only for ‘elites’, only for those who are already militants. But if you are already a militant you are already pointed in the right direction, it seems a bit useless. If you are a militant it becomes an issue of training and formation, which can have its place but is a bit unnecessary to publicize. In fact, it is best not to publicized it at all.

The important thing is to distinguish the two things, for us everything that is political is open not closed.

Q: What is the antifascist atmosphere in Palermo like at the moment?

 L: … squaddism only works if you bring 1000s of people to the street like we did in Palermo. You need both squaddism and community organizing, if one excludes the other it is partial.

Force without mass movement does not allow others to get involved. Antifascism then starts to seem like something that is only carried out by militants, and therefore excludes a lot of people that cannot relate or do not know how to get involved. So squaddism must be followed or accompanied by big popular based movements that all can join into. E.g. the demo with the duck tape. Therefore building popular cohesion and antifascist involvement.

For more information about Palestra Popolare Vlerio Verbano please visit (and give a like to):
https://www.facebook.com/ppvv2008/
For Pelastra Popolare Palermo:
https://www.facebook.com/palestrapopolarepa/

 

Anti-Fascism, Jihadism and The FLA

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) march in London last Saturday, saw large crowds (estimated between 5,000 to 20,000) gathered to protest Islamic extremism. The stated aim, at least from the organisers, was to demand the arrest, internment and or deportation of 23,000 ‘extremists’ without trial.

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The FLA preparing to march.

 

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Cable Street and Beyond

On the 4th October 1936 , tens of thousands of anti-fascists turned out to stop Moseley’s Blackshirts marching into the East End of London.

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Barricades during the “Battle of Cable Street”

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Antifascist Kurdish Solidarity

On Tuesday evening we hosted an excellent meeting with members of the local Sussex Kurdish Community (kurdishcom.com) and others who have recently traveled to Rojava.

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La FN en Brighton? Mais Non!

When we heard a few days ago that Tony Thommes, the Front National candidate for French Expats in Northern Europe, was planning a meeting at the King and Queen pub in Brighton today, we knew he’d regret it.

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

The last few days have sometimes felt a bit like the end of the world, or at the very least, the beginning of a new era. Trump’s ascendancy seems to have sparked a new wave of repression and resistance, and the far-right across both the US and Europe is on the march.

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Fascists: Should We Just Ignore Them?

Short answer: no.

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A few days ago, Brighton and Hove News published this article. It’s an interview with Matthew Cook, one of the organisers of this year’s Kemp Town Carnival. In it, Mr Cook argues we should ignore the planned fascist march in Brighton, and leave it to the Police to deal with, whilst we all party it up at the carnival.

Since “just ignore them” is a fairly common message we get sent, we thought we’d look in a little bit of depth at why this is such a bad idea.

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Far-Right Symbols II – Electric Boogaloo

Considering how wildly popular our “Guide to Far Right Symbols” has proved, we decided the only proper thing to do is write another one, looking at some less common symbols, or ones used in other countries.

Many of these symbols relate specifically to fascist groups in other countries, so you’re unlikely to run into them in a Brighton back alley, but as many activists regularly travel abroad (and our last article got hits from all over the world), we thought it’d be good to broaden our scope a bit.

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Migrant Solidarity Night and Other Updates

There’s a lot of stuff coming up for antifascists in the South East in the next month or so. Here’s a round-up of stuff you should be aware of.

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