Sighting of fascist cadre?

A Sighting of
possible Fascist "cadre"
on February 1, 2017'

by Stan Woods

I attended the February 1st rally at UC Berkeley against Alt-Rightist Milo Yiannopoulos, who was intending to speak at an event. A lot happened that evening, and Yiannopoulos was driven off the campus, but I won't get into a review of all the hysterical (and inaccurate) corporate media coverage. I just want to mention an interesting "Sighting."

I took the BART Train to the Rockridge station in North Oakland. I then boarded an AC Transit bus to UC Berkeley. Right after I got on, five young guys also boarded. All were very fit looking, casually dressed, with short hair (though not "crew cut" or skinhead).

Anyway, the first guy, who appeared to be slightly older than the rest, also seemed to be unfamiliar with the area; he asked the driver several questions about the proximity of UC etc. He also was unaware that AC Transit drivers couldn't make change for fares which was a problem since he and his friends only had twenties.

He then said to the driver, "We are active duty military if that makes any difference." He and the others pulled out their IDs. The driver just glanced at them, waved them through, and said, "Thank you for your service."

I thought that though there was nothing unusual for Military personnel on leave wanting to check out UC Berkeley, that these guys were going to the Yiannopoulos event. There was nothing unusual about them, except that the others seemed to defer to the slightly older guy (Maybe he was their NCO, or if Navy, Chief Petty Officer).

Once I arrived at the campus a hell of a lot was going on and I forgot about them until later on, when I saw them standing near Sather gate. Their group had now grown to eight and shortly after that four more joined them. All men, all white, except for one that may have been a Pacific Islander. They seemed to be intently watching the crowd. Then I noticed that one of the newcomers had an insignia or badge on his jacket. I'm not at all sure but I think it was the symbol of the fascist group "Identity Evropa."

I tried to get closer to snap a screen shot with my cell phone but there was a lot of confusion, Police concussion grenades going off, people running back and forth etc. So I retreated to my previous point a distance away. Then something happened. I saw a college age woman take a political button off her jacket (presumably Anti-Trump) and stroll over to the group. I thought that she was obviously trying to find our who they were. I watched her faux friendly chatting for a minute then something went BOOM -- another concussion grenade, or maybe one of Black Bloc's alleged M 80s -- and I turned my head for a minute in the direction of the sound.

When I looked back again what I saw confirmed my suspicions. In one fluid motion the lead guy snatched a cell phone out of the woman's hand, turned it over and apparently removed the battery and SIM card, tossed it far over his shoulder, threw the now useless phone back at her and gave her a quick hard shove. Not hard enough to knock her down, but to push her back a few feet and to convey a clear message to Get the Hell away from us!

She started to shout in protest, thought better of it, and walked rapidly away. I strongly suspect these guys were serious fascist cadre. Not some Campus Republican Reactionary Geeks but dangerous thugs who operated with "Military Efficency" if you will. Using just the necessary amount of force with the woman student without a lot of "drama." It looked to me like they were deciding who among the thousands might be worth targeting for an assault if an opportune moment were to present itself.

"Fascist" -- the word gets bandied around so casually that maybe I should pause here and say that the classic Socialist definition for fascist is an ultra nationalist organization with a strong national/racial supremacist component, a deep hatred for both the anti-capitalist left and mainstream liberalism, and a strong reliance on street violence. That is what distinguishes fascists from even the most ultra right mainstream party (who generally let the police do their dirty work for them).

Shortly afterwards a trade union woman I knew asked me to escort her to her car since things were becoming a bit intense. In the meantime I lost track of these guys.

So once again, who and what were these camera shy characters? I suppose they could have been plainclothes cops, a "snatch squad" perhaps. But I don't think so. First off, as I mentioned earlier, at least five of them took a bus to UC Berkeley. I can't imagine cops doing that! Secondly, after decades of activism and thus observing many plainclothes cops at rallies (usually trying unconvincingly to blend in), I think this squad had a different air. Sharper, more focused, more predatory. I fear we will be seeing a lot more of their ilk in the next few years.