‘Alt-right’ Portland rally sees skirmishes with counter-protesters

Far-right and anti-fascist groups face off with each other and law enforcement, a little over a week after two men died in a racially charged stabbing

A much-anticipated alt-right rally in Portland, Oregon has ended in police using stun grenades and tear gas against the most militant segment of a counter-protest.

At 3.30pm, police began pushing antifascist or antifa activists out of Chapman Square, just across from the rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza, in downtown Portland. Officers discharged grenades and gas as missiles were thrown. Portland police said on Twitter that they had closed the park due to criminal behavior including the use of bricks, mortar and other projectiles.

As the antifascists were pushed out, alt-right activists interrupted their schedule of speakers to rush to the edge of Schrunk Plaza and taunt them. Police said they had confiscated makeshift weapons and shields from protesters in Chapman Square, and said that at around 2pm protesters there launched marbles and other projectiles towards Schrunk Plaza.

Hours before, as the opposing activists gathered, tensions in the city were high, a little over a week after two men were killed and one wounded in a stabbing on city transportation.

Jeremy Christian, 35, was charged in the attack, in which Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were killed after they intervened to help two young women who were the target of racial abuse. Christian was found to have expressed far-right views and to have attended a similar free speech rally in the city in April.

Pro-Trump
Pro-Trump demonstrators in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler sought to block Sundays event, while on Saturday the leader of the Oath Keepers militia organisation told the Guardian members of his group were on their way to the city, to support and if necessary defend the rightwing protesters.

In the event, the alt-right rally was surrounded on three sides by separate counter-protests. Antifa activists occupied Chapman Square, to the south of the plaza. Portland United Against Hate, organized by 70 community and political groups, occupied the forecourt and sidewalk outside City Hall to the west. To the east, a protest organized by labor groups occupied the street outside a federal building.

At the City Hall rally, Seemab Hussein of the Oregon Council on Islamic Relations, a rally sponsor, said he wasnt surprised to see an alt-right gathering in the city.

Its part of Portland, he said, its part of Oregon, its part of society. He added that he didnt take seriously disavowals of the racist politics of older far-right movements.

Antifa
These guys are mostly not interested in free speech, theyre interested in fighting us, said an antifa activist. Photograph: Jason Wilson for the Guardian

I dont think they actually moved away from that, he said. Its the same ball of yarn the hate, the prejudice, the violence. It just finds a new victim. If its not Muslims, its immigrants. He was heartened, he said, to see so many Portlanders show up to oppose the rally.

All told, there were some 3,000 counter-protesters and only a few hundred at the free speech rally, where Kyle Based Stickman Chapman, who became a movement hero after physically attacking antifascists in Berkeley, California addressed the crowd. So did Joey Gibson, the organizer of the event. On the fringes, Pat Based Spartan Washington, a so-called alt-right celebrity, held an impromptu press conference.

I believe in freedom of speech, he said. Our speakers have a right to say what they want, and not be exposed to this shit across the street. I am definitely willing to use violence to make sure my family is safe and my patriot family is safe. But do I want it? Not necessarily. Until antifa learns not to use violence God, I hate them. I look over there and I just want to smash.

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Pat Washington, an alt-right supporter, in Portland. Photograph: Jason Wilson/the Guardian

Members of the Oath Keepers and another patriot militia group, the Three Percenters, were present, identifiable by their insignia. Also present were members of the Proud Boys, associated with Vice founder Gavin McInnes and identifiable by their uniform Fred Perry T-shirts, and members of Warriors for Freedom, a group led by Gibson.

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes gave a late afternoon speech, referring to growing links between established rightwing groups and internet subcultures.

We just went to Boston not too long ago, Rhodes said, and it was run by 4chan kids who put the rally on. They were standing there with pale skin, cos they dont go outside too much, but they had homemade shields in their hands and they were there. Its my job as a paratrooper veteran to teach those kids everything I know.

Tusitala Tiny Toese, a member of Warriors for Freedom, told the Guardian he was present to stand for free speech.

If you look all around America, he said, theyre trying to take away free speech silently. He also said that the group had ejected Jeremy Christian from the 29 April Portland rally. We heard what he was doing, he said, we heard he was doing [Nazi] salutes, and we said we dont like that, so we told him, you gotta leave.

Earlier in the day, as protesters gathered, two members of the Rose City Antifa group, wearing masks, spoke to the Guardian. Weve got hopes for what we want to happen and were preparing for the worst, one said, adding that their goals were being here, being a visible opposition.

These guys are mostly not interested in free speech, theyre interested in fighting us, the activist said. If they come over here, were going to respond in self-defense, but our plan is not to take that path. Our main goal is the defense of the community, and to reveal their actions for what they are: fascist street violence.

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An activist makes a far-right hand signal. Photograph: Jason Wilson for the Guardian

At one point Brian Fife, an alt-right protester, walked up to Chapman Square in an attempt to speak. He was surrounded and drowned out with air horns. Earlier, on the grass at Schrunk Plaza, Fife, who said he ran a small business in Salem, Oregon, said Jeremy Christian did everything right up until the point he started killing people.

I do not support killing people, he said, I dont think anyone does. But calling out the changing elements of our culture, I think thats something I wish more of us would do.

As police and DHS officers dressed in riot gear kept the groups apart, the rally passed without full-blooded confrontation between protesters. Police also announced that any movement between Chapman Square and Schrunk Plaza would be considered a criminal act. The plaza was cordoned off with yellow tape and police SUVs partially blocked traffic. Before the decision to clear Chapman Square, a small number of arrests were made.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/04/portland-oregon-alt-right-rally-antifa

Paris mayor demands black feminist festival that ‘prohibits’ white people be banned

Anne Hidalgo says organisers of the Nyansapo Festival in the capital could be prosecuted because most of the event space would for black women only

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has called for a black feminist festival in the French capital to be banned, saying it was prohibited to white people.

The first edition of the Nyansapo Festival, due to run from July 28 to 30 at a cultural centre in Paris, bills itself as an event rooted in black feminism, activism, and on (a) European scale.

Four-fifths of the festival area will be set aside as a non-mixed space for black women, according to its website in French.

Another space will be a non-mixed area for black people regardless of gender. Another space would be open to all.

The English version of the site does not use the word non-mixed, but reserved.

Hidalgo said on Twitter that she firmly condemned the organisation of this event, prohibited to white people.

I am asking for this festival to be banned, Hidalgo said, adding she also reserved the right to prosecute the organisers for discrimination.

Police prefect Michel Delpuech said in a statement that police had not been advised about the event by Sunday evening.

But, Delpuech added, the police would ensure the rigorous compliance of the laws, values, and principles of the republic.

French anti-racist and anti-semitism organisations strongly condemned the festival.

SOS Racisme described the event as a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race.

The International League against Racism and Antisemitism said Rosa Parks would be turning in her grave, a reference to the American civil rights icon.

Wallerand de Saint-Just, the regional head of Marine Le Pens National Front party, had challenged Hidalgo on Friday to explain how the city was putting on an event promoting a concept that is blatantly racist and anti-republican.

The cultural centre La Generale, where the event was to be hosted, and the collective Mwasi, which organised the event, said Sunday they were the target of a disinformation campaign and of fake news orchestrated by the foulest far right.

We are saddened to see certain antiracist associations letting themselves be manipulaed like this, according to a statement posted on the Generale website.

A decolonisation summer camp in the northeastern French city of Reims elicited similar outrage last year, as it billed itself as a training seminar on antiracism reserved for victims of institutional racism or racialised minorities excluding by default white people.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/29/paris-mayor-demands-black-feminist-festival-prohibits-white-people-banned-nyansapo

Taiwan’s same-sex marriage ruling could cement its place as Asia’s liberal beacon

Landmark court case this week is likely to determine the success or failure of draft laws currently before parliament

Chi Chia-wei will find out on Wednesday if his decades long fight to make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage has been a success.

Chi, 59, a pioneering Taiwanese gay rights activist, is the celebrated face behind one of the most controversial legal cases the island democracy has seen in recent years, where 14 judges must rule if the civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The constitutional courts landmark ruling will not only determine the success or failure of draft new parliamentary laws to introduce marriage equality, but could cement Taiwans reputation as a beacon of liberalism in a region where the LGBT community faces increasing persecution.

Chi, an equal rights campaigner since he first came out as a gay teenager in 1975, remains pragmatic about making civil rights history. If it doesnt work out this time, Ill keep on fighting for the people, and for human rights, he said in an interview with The Guardian.

But he is determined that one day, the fight will be won.

Somebody has to do it. I dont want to see any more people commit suicide because they dont have marriage equality, he said.

Last October the suspected suicide of French professor, Jacques Picoux, who was unable to marry his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao, became a rallying call for Chi and other LGBT activists.

His struggle is also personal. Chis lawsuit, launched two years ago and supported by the municipal government in the capital, Taipei, is the latest of several attempts to get legal recognition for his 30 year relationship with his partner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

In 1986, when the nation was still under martial law, Chi was imprisoned for five months after submitting his first petition asking for gay marriage to be recognised.

As a flag bearer for equality, he hopes to inspire other LGBT activists fighting a crackdown across Asia.

On the eve of Taiwans court ruling, two gay men face a public caning in Indonesia. In South Korea, the military has been accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against gay recruits. In Bangladesh, 27 men were arrested last week on suspicion of being gay, a criminal offence.

Back in Taiwan, the political stakes of Wednesdays decision are also high.

When President Tsai Ing-wens ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) passed the first draft of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in December, it prompted a fierce conservative backlash.

The issue has split Taiwanese society and vocal protests from a coalition of religious and right-wing family groups have caused many legislators to have second thoughts.

The fate of the legislation, soon to face a second reading, now lies in the hands of the court, believes Yu Mei-nu, the DPP parliamentarian who drafted it.

If the court ruled clearly in support of same-sex marriage and President Tsai offered her unequivocal support, it would embolden wavering legislators to vote in favour of the new laws, she argued.

If the grand justices make a decision that is not very clear, and it depends on a legislative yuan [parliament] vote, then it will be difficult. I think most legislators will abstain, she said.

We want her (Tsai) to be braver. If she can come out and say yes I support it then it will be passed.

Ahead of her election last year, Tsai voiced her support for marriage equality in a Facebook video. In the face of love, everyone is equal, she said.

But as she marked the first anniversary of her inauguration this weekend with low public approval ratings, Tsai faced criticism from all sides over her handling of gay marriage.

Its a little bit depressing for us. Before the election, she was really pro-gay rights. But now she has kind of disappeared, said student Vic Chiang, 23, at a Taipei rally last week on the International Day Against Homophobia.

Meanwhile, Robin Chen, a spokesman for the Coalition For Happiness of Our Next Generation, which links support for gay marriage with increased HIV infections, criticised the government for rushing the laws through.

The majority of the population does not know whats happening, he said. We need to discuss things on different levels because family is the foundation of society.

His fears were shared by Father Otfried Chan, secretary-general of the Chinese Regional Bishops Conference, who believes the court will likely back gay marriage. There is no debate, he said. Its a one-sided game.

Nerves are frayed ahead of the ruling, with both sides intending to demonstrate outside the court.

But for

Chi, the choice is simple.

To legalise marriage would mean that Taiwans civil code and constitution will say that gay people are people, he said. If the law can be changed, Taiwans gay community will have human rights.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/22/taiwans-same-sex-marriage-court-ruling-asias-liberal-beacon

The Salesman wins best foreign language Oscar

Protest vote against Donald Trumps travel ban suspected to be partly behind Iranian director Asghar Farhadis surprise victory

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has won the best foreign language Oscar in Los Angeles, for a second time, for domestic drama The Salesman. Farhadi, 44, did not attend the ceremony because he said that the conditions that would be attached to a potential entry visa were unacceptable.

The director had originally planned to travel to Hollywood for the prize-giving to highlight the unjust circumstances that have arisen for the immigrants and travellers of several countries to the United States.

The surge in votes for his film was thought by some to be a registration by Oscar voters of a protest against Donald Trumps travel ban, which aimed to prevent people coming to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries. On Sunday evening in London, a free screening of The Salesman was introduced by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Until the ramifications of the ban for film-makers such as Farhadi became clear, Germanys Toni Erdmann had been the strong favourite to take the prize. The other nominees were Land of Mine (Denmark), Tanna (Australia) and A Man Called Ove (Sweden).

The Salesman premiered at Cannes last May, where it won best actor for Shahab Hosseini and best screenplay for Farhadi despite moderate notices from critics. The film follows a couple in Tehran involved in an amateur dramatic production of Arthur Millers The Salesman, who are forced to move apartments following an earthquake. But the flat into which they move has an unhappy history, compounded by an unwelcome intruder.

Farhadi won Irans first Oscar for his film A Separation in 2012. This second award puts him in an elite category of double-winners in the category, including Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman.

Irans first person in space, Anousheh Ansari, read out a statement from Farhadi at the podium: My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/27/the-salesman-wins-best-foreign-language-oscar-asghar-farhadi