What can I say, the press just loves these idiots and hates the likes of us, just remember who they are, where they go and quietly gather as much information as you can in your given A.O. .
Meet Redneck Revolt, the radical leftist group arming working-class people so they can defend minorities
The Independent spent the day on Long Island with members of the armed leftist group
It is 9am on a Sunday, and a group of radical leftists are gathered at a shooting range in rural Long Island having target practice.
From a distance, it looks like a scene from any small, conservative town in America: A group of guys palling around in a snow-covered parking lot, taking turns firing down the range while swigging cups of hot coffee to ward off the cold.
Up close, however, it looks quite different. The guns are not American-made, but Russian; forged in the Soviet era. One has a hammer and sickle etched into the bolt. The men are genial but reserved, keeping their distance from the other groups around them. And one of them is complaining bitterly about his coffee. It came in a Styrofoam cup.
“What’s wrong with Styrofoam?” his friend wants to know.
“It takes, like, 50,000 years to decompose!” he replies.
The environmentalist’s name is Mike, a Long Island native and self-described Marxist-Leninist. He was born in conservative Suffolk County to a clerical worker and industrial maintenance technician. He says he grew up “dirt poor," and was radicalised by a lifetime spent thinking: “There’s got to be an answer for why this is so shitty.”
One night earlier this year, after a couple of beers, Mike decided to find some like-minded radicals on Long Island. He posted on a Facebook page called “Long Island Socialists,” and heard back from the page’s administrator almost immediately. That’s how he found Redneck Revolt, and how came to be standing on the gun range that day.
Redneck Revolt is a national activist organisation that advocates for the downfall of capitalism through the elimination of racism. Its founders believe strongly that working-class liberation can only occur when workers unite, regardless of race. So in 38 different locations around the country, Redneck Revolt mobilises poor, rural white people to stand up for people of colour.
And yes, they carry guns.
Indeed, Redneck Revolt may look like many other social-justice groups – its website contains frequent mentions of “trigger warnings” and “solidarity” – but it is far from it. The members of Redneck Revolt don’t want you to sit in a circle, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya. They want you to know you have an enemy – it’s just not who you think it is.
In an open letter that the group frequently uses for recruitment, it urges working-class white people to “look around” and wonder: “Who lives in the houses or trailers in the same neighbourhoods as us? Who works next to us in the factories, or cooks alongside us at the restaurants?”
“It sure as hell isn’t rich white people,” the letter continues. “It’s Brown people, Black people, and other working-class white people. They are the ones that are in similar situations to us, living paycheck to paycheck, stretching to feed their families like we do. So why then would we view them as so different from us that we literally view them as our enemies?”
The message seems to be catching on. From the group’s humble beginnings in Colorado and Kansas, it has spread to nearly 40 branches nationwide. Members participate in everything from community gardens to counter-protests at right-wing marches. Some even try to find new members at these marches, in a process known as “counter-recruiting”. The group counter-recruits in many traditionally white spaces, such as NASCAR races and gun shows.
The Suffolk County branch, to which Mike belongs, isn’t big on counter-recruiting these days – they’re getting enough interest as it is. Instead, they host potlucks with neighbouring leftist organisations and protest prison conditions with Black Lives Matter. Last month, they hosted a vigil for victims of the opioid crisis with members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). They also grow their own community garden, and go out every Thursday to feed the homeless.
But Kevin – another Suffolk County member, who sports wire-frame glasses and a short, brown ponytail – says they don’t consider what they do charity.
“Charity is the lowest rung of what we do,” he told me. “What we want to do is help people organise themselves – reorganise the conditions of their lives, so they don’t have to depend on someone else for a meal.”
According to Redneck Revolt’s mission statement, organising people also requires organising a defence of their communities. Hence, the gun range.
The Suffolk County branch group meets up for weekly sessions at the range, the name of which they asked to be kept secret. They often bring along other leftists groups, like the PSL, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), or the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Mike says those are some of his favourite days on the range.
“I think it’s very cool that we can bring groups together that normally wouldn’t have anything else in common,” he told me. “And seeing a whole bunch of leftists with guns is cool.”
Not everyone thinks the guns are cool, of course. Redneck Revolt has gotten pushback from liberal groups who think the weapons sully their image. But the members maintain that the firearms are necessary to protect themselves, and the communities of colour they want to help serve.
“We are willing to take on personal risk to defend those in our community who live under the risk of reactionary violence because of their skin colour, gender identity, sexuality, religion, or birth country,” the group’s mission statement reads. “For us, that means that we meet our neighbours face-to-face, and stand alongside them to face threats whenever possible.”
This summer, the Suffolk County branch rallied to the cause of Keenan and Anthony – two young, black men who were killed in a dirt bike crash on a local highway. Witnesses said they saw a 27-year-old white man purposely run over the two bikers with his minivan. The suspect, however, was charged only with one count of reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty.
Shortly after the charges were announced, Redneck Revolt joined the Justice for Keenan and Anthony Coalition with the PSL and a local Black Lives Matter chapter. The coalition lobbied the district attorney to upgrade the charges, marching in a protest that momentarily shut down the same highway where the bikers were killed. The charges in the case were upgraded to second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide last month.
For some, this may be an even more confusing concept than the guns: Why would an anti-capitalist movement of poor, rural white folks dedicate so much time and energy to fighting racism?
George, one of the founding members of the Suffolk County branch, showed me how he would explain the topic to a fellow working-class white person.
“Say it’s a landscaper,” George said. “He’ll blame [his low wages on] Latinx landscapers who are standing outside the 7-Eleven trying to find work. I would say, at the end of the day both guys are trying to support their families. And it’s the employer who’s screwing you by hiring somebody at a lower wage.”
The Redneck Revolt pitch is surprisingly simple: Both poor white people and poor people of colour are actually fighting against the same enemy – the rich.
“With some of the people,” George said, “a light will go off.”