After learning about Antifa largely through websites such as Rebel Media and Infowars, I was quite surprised to find that a local branch had recently vandalised an art gallery in East London due to the supposed racist nature of previous speakers. The gallery, LD50, had bricks thrown through the window as well as a swastika painted on the door and ‘ALT SHITE’ was also spray painted across the shutters.
I was disturbed by the idea of ‘social justice’ stifling discouse within the art world, and so I decided I would go down to check out the protest myself. To maintain anonymity I chose to wear a balaclava - as I knew antifascist groups often target their political adversaries through their employers or ‘doxxing’ their personal information.
A man appeared while I was filming to stage a counter protest against the demo. He was holding a sign which read:
“THE RIGHT TO OPENLY DISCUSS IDEAS MUST BE DEFENDED”
Despite being heckled and threatened, he stood his ground and responded with phrases such as ‘I don’t mind, I’m still here and I’m still standing’. I thought this was incredibly brave and I tried to document the aggression directed towards him as closely as I could.
This was one of the first instances I chose to document a political protest and I was disappointed by the leader of Black Lives Matter forcefully damaging his property. I chose to name him in the video because I felt he needed to be held accountable for his actions, and as an ex-member of Black Lives Matter I also felt personally let down by his behvaiour, having looked up to him previously. Other organisations present were Sisters Uncut and Unite Against Fascism, as well as the Socialist Workers Party.
The video went viral on several alternative news outlets and I met some pro free-speech artists as a result of this event, including the man who held the sign who I am now pleased to call a friend.