We, the undersigned, represent a coalition of anti-fascists from across the State of New York. We have chosen to assemble in Syracuse on June 10 to take action in defense of people in this community who have been targeted for violence by attendees of the so-called “March Against Sharia”. (https://itsgoingdown.org/nationwide-day-action-muslims-june-10th-need-stop/) As in many cities throughout the United States, today a collection of right wing groups and provocateurs will once again use “free speech” as a smokescreen in an attempt to gain a foothold for groups that use broad anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric to advance programs of racial exclusion and expulsion. Due to Syracuse’s central location within New York State, this provocation is being taken as aimed at the whole of Upstate itself, and along with our comrades in Syracuse, Upstate is responding.
We refuse to allow fascists a platform to organize and incite racial violence. In so doing, we are not suppressing “free speech.” In these current matters of “free speech,” we are not dealing with opinions that have withstood the scrutiny necessary to place them on par with those which provide meaning and purpose to a just and fair society. Instead, we have emotions dressed up in the language of a victim, paraded and bleated from soapboxes in such a manner as to play to the sympathies many would otherwise reserve for the oppressed and vulnerable. Right now, other groups aligned with these alleged crusaders for the first amendment are threatening speakers and harassing students on university lecture and book tours. (https://itsgoingdown.org/richard-spencer-gets-not-warm-welcome-auburn-university-alabama-april-18-2017/)
The overstated threat of “Sharia law” is a dogwhistle to the anti-Muslim sentiment that has crept through communities across the country, especially since 9/11. Religious law is not only unconstitutional, but Muslims comprise just 0.9 percent of the religious makeup of the United States. This overstated fear of the minority has, for years, translated into calls for mass deportations, the erosion of civil liberties, and flat out violence against Muslims. There is nothing original to the script of ACT for America in their crusade against depictions of Sharia law. This is the same script used by the Nazis in their genocide against Jewish people in the 1930s and 1940s.
We affirm the rights of the people of Syracuse to resist bigotry in whatever capacity they find appropriate. We embrace a diversity of tactics in the struggle against fascism, and we respect the right of other counterdemonstrators to assemble. As such, we do not plan to interrupt other counterdemonstrations. We urge all attendees to refrain from acts that would compromise the stated intent of this counterdemonstration, to respect the boundaries and safety of one another, and to be cognizant of public perception. The fringes of the right have grown increasingly violent, even when faced with nonviolence. As such, we would also like to address the tense situation in the city of Portland, Oregon after the brutal attack on three men coming to the aid of young women who were being verbally abused by a white nationalist who presumed them to be Muslims (https://itsgoingdown.org/antifascism-community-self-defense-fight-revolution/). We stand with Portland at this time as they cope with loss, increasing threats, and the task ahead of rooting out fascism from their community. We, the groups assembled, are prepared to undertake this burden in New York State if need be. We send our love and solidarity to Portland. You are not alone.
We also wish to clearly convey that our purpose for gathering in Syracuse is not to incite violence or destroy property. We will be there to represent organized resistance to fascism in our communities. While we do not plan to commit acts of offensive violence, we cannot say the same for the groups who have assembled to “march against sharia.” We cannot fully anticipate the reaction of the groups assembled with ACT for America, like the Syracuse Proud Boys, affiliated motorcycle clubs or patriot militias. Any escalation into violence will be at the hands of the previously mentioned groups and/or the Syracuse Police Department. We will not stand by idly if these groups incite or organize violence. We will defend our communities and ourselves by any means necessary.
NEW YORK ANTIFA ALLIANCE
Buffalo Red and Black/Roja y Negra, Capital Region Anti-Fascist Action, Central NY AntiFa, Great Lakes AntiFa, Hudson Valley Anti-Fascist Network, North Country Redneck Revolt, Syracuse Antifa, Utica IWW, Western New York AntiFa, Anti-Fascist News