PITTSBURGH: Antifascists Protest Anti-Semitic Shooting

By Bird Seed

Last Sunday, the masses of Pittsburgh took to the streets behind a banner reading “Antifascist Pittsburgh” to condemn the shooting of 11 Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27.

Fascist terrorist Robert Bowers has plead not guilty to a 44-count indictment, despite having made his reactionary intentions clear on social media and at the time of the murders. This tragedy unfolded in the context of Neo-Nazi Patriot Front posters appearing in several neighborhoods across the city.

For the past month, Patriot Front has targeted the Mexican immigrant neighborhood of Brookline with ICE tip-line numbers as well as several gentrified neighborhoods, such as the Strip, Shadyside, and Bloomfield.

Gentrification, in its goal to build exclusionary white areas at the expense of oppressed nationality working class communities, largely mimics the political agenda of Bowers and the Patriot Front, who wish to generate a White-only Pittsburgh that keeps immigrants out.

The anti-Semitism embraced by Bowers and groups like Patriot Front portray Jews as an enemy of the people that controls politics and the economy, blaming this group for all the crimes of the bourgeoisie.

Antifascist Pittsburgh, representing a coalition of Communists and anarchists, organized a demonstration through Shadyside. Speeches were given asserting that nonviolence is insufficient in fighting fascism, that elections are a cruel joke, and that anti-Semitism plays a key role in reactionary mass shootings.

Once the march began, attendees chanted “Pittsburgh fights back!” “No justice, no peace – Run those Nazis off our streets!” and “Anytime, any place, punch a Nazi in the face!” first down Shady and then onto Penn Ave. The demonstration proceeded through East Liberty which has been symbolic as the most contentious space between oppressed people and the waves of gentrification which have washed over the city.

Bowers was reported to have screamed that “all Jews must die!” as he started his rampage. Bowers chose his targets not just out of anti-semitism but also because of his hatred of immigrants, saying on alt-right message board GAB that Tree of Life worked with the international refugee NGO Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in opening borders. This tradition of solidarity that is part of Jewish culture is known as tikkun olum and has been part of Jewish working class participation in revolutionary struggles worldwide.

Bowers, like letter bomber Cesar Sayoc who bragged about his family’s involvement in killing Communists in Philippines and his fears Antifa, are part of a growing U.S. fascist movement that situates anti-semitism at the center of its analysis, making critiques of what it perceives as the ruling class and to make reactionary inferences on the causes of poverty.

As the imperialist policy of deindustrialization reaches new levels of intensity, declassing more white workers and the petty bourgeois, fascism recruits from that base by painting Jews in a false light. They are depicted as a foreign element that are disloyal to the State, and thus they are anti-Zionists and “cultural Marxists” who push for a “multiculturalist” world that permits Muslim and Central American refugees fleeing U.S. imperialist devastation and coups to dilute the “Western, European” purity of the USA.

From those cheap selling points, fascists hope to produce the mass, extra-electoral movement which is willing to deploy genocidal violence to enforce its reign of terror.

Anti-semitic terror is not new to Pittsburgh. Richard Baumhammers carried out mass murder in 2000 in the same predominately Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, and in the past decade there have been an increasing number of grave desecration and acts of white supremacist vandalism – a trend showing fascism’s rise.

Many of the masses were supportive of the march, honking and giving the thumbs up as it proceeded down the road. The police showed out in large numbers, using the bus-way to transport to the area in multiple cars, motorbikes, surveillance vans, and geared up for a fight. Defiantly, the militants split down different routes, preventing any encirclement by the pigs. The rally successfully ended with no arrests, having caused a successful disruption as part of a growing antifascist movement in the city.