Video still: Texas Nomad, Christopher Ritchie, is protected by Texas State troopers as he is confronted by attendees
By David Martinez
Last night, at an anti-war rally organized by the Austin chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) at the Texas capitol in response to tensions with Iran, antifascist community members in attendance confronted the Texas Nomads, a fascist, civic nationalist group who had come to heckle the rally. Instead of uniting to push out the fascists, Austin DSA leadership and local politicians instead rallied the crowd against the small group of antifascists, drowning them out and continuing with the rally as the Nomads stood by unchallenged.
Christopher Ritchie and Colin Whites, fascists with the Texas Nomads, are infamous around Austin for attending progressive and revolutionary events, live-streaming to their fellow reactionaries and attempting to harass attendees. Ritchie and Whites are both virulent Trump supporters and reactionaries who espouse hyper US nationalism and anti-communism. Ritchie is a well-known attendee of Unite the Right in Charlottesville, and Patriot Prayer rallies in Portland, both the scene of violent, deadly clashes between fascists and antifascists.
Texas Nomads, Christopher Ritchie and Colin Whites
The small group of antifascists, who had originally attended to show revolutionary opposition to US imperialism, reported that Ritchie and Whites, as well as another woman wrapped in a Trump flag, began walking up to the rally near its start. The contingent of revolutionaries immediately confronted the Nomads and told them to leave. One young woman on a megaphone started to agitate to the larger rally, as Whites attempted to push her megaphone, with the woman defiantly backing him away.
As they got closer to the larger crowd, people from the rally spontaneously began to join the confrontation due to the antifascists’ agitation. As some attendees began to close in physically on the Nomads, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers began to intervene to separate the groups.
The antifascists and attendees continued to confront, chanting, “Who protects fascists, pigs do, pigs do!” But while a handful of rally attendees maintained their anger towards the fascists, many appeared indifferent, and soon, DSA leaders were actively agitating against the antifascists.
The antifascists were derailed into arguments with DSA members, while on Ritchie’s livestream, he mocked and celebrated the lack of unity between the rally and the contingent of antifascists. Antifascists were temporarily discouraged, but soon after, one of them intervened with a megaphone in the middle of the DSA rally and told the crowd, “We all unite with the fight against US imperialism, but there is a glaring contradiction here that is being ignored, Christopher Ritchie and Colin Whites, two known white supremacists who are not being confronted.”
Instead of acknowledging this, DSA organizers pushed the crowd to chant, “We Won’t Fight Your Racist Wars!” until the antifascist agitator was drowned out.
Seeing that the DSA leadership sought to villainize leftists rather than fascists in their midst, the antifascist agitators pulled back, correctly understanding that without mass support the confrontation would fizzle. While they could have possibly found ways to unite more with the crowd, they were unable to wrest control of the rally from the social fascist leadership of DSA.
The Austin DSA is one of the organization’s most notoriously reactionary chapters, the source of Danny Fetonte, a police union organizer who they elevated into national leadership. Fetonte was forced to resign after a massive outcry from the left-wing of the organization. At the rally and online, in a display of their petty sectarianism, Austin DSA supporters claimed that the antifascist community members came with the intention to disrupt their rally, even though they only loudly agitated and intervened once the Nomads arrived.
As the event concluded Ritchie milled about the crowd and praised the DSA on his livestream for their indifference to him, commenting, “I will give the DSA this, none of them tried to shut us down, or prevent us from coming up here. It was all these little communist, antifa cucks…who did it. DSA was telling them to leave us alone…I’ll give credit where credit’s due.”
Politicians such as Heidi Sloan, DSA’s candidate for a seat in the US House of Representatives and Gregorio ‘Greg’ Casar, an Austin City Council member, both gave speeches as the Texas Nomads stood looking over their shoulder. In the rally’s promotion, DSA claimed “Congress has the power to stop war with Iran,” setting their hopes on the US imperialist government to put a stop to its own bourgeoisie’s destructive agenda. Unlike the DSA and their politicians, the revolutionaries of Austin know US imperialism is the world’s number one enemy, and actively confront the reactionaries who defend it, and when possible, militantly strike at them.
On International Workers Day on May 1 last year, Whites was bloodied with a blow to his head that sent him to the hospital after revolutionary marchers went on the offensive against the Nomad’s harassment. All charges were eventually dropped against the alleged perpetrator as the prosecutor feared putting Whites on the stand and exposing his backwards, anti-people views to a jury.
This actual blow against Whites was the result of Communist leadership in Austin, showing the need for organized antifascism that truly confronts and makes material gains against growing reaction. The leadership of the Austin DSA meanwhile continues to push reformism and elections, integrating into the Democratic Party while deliberately ignoring real fascist threats out of their own sectarianism, petty bourgeois class stand, and general anti-communism.
Austin DSA leadership’s inaction and fear of real revolutionary action at their own anti-war rally is a demonstration of their true class interests to stand with and preserve US imperialism, and their unwillingness to militantly defend the working class and fight for a new society.