A group by the name of The Proud Boys came to Kalamazoo, Michigan Saturday for a rally.  That rally turned violent when the Proud Boys, as some call a far-right group, were met by Antifa, as some call a very far-left group.

As the Detroit News reported:

“The Proud Boys had planned a rally and counter-protesters, described as the anti-fascist leftist group antifa by protesters, staged their own event in the area at the same time”

Let my first start this opinion piece off with I have no idea whether the Proud Boys are a hate group or not, this piece has to do with Free Speech.  Please keep that in mind as you are reading it.

If the Antifa group and other “counter-protestors” knew where the Proud Boys were holding their rally, why didn’t they hold their rally in a different location to avoid the conflict that ensued?  

Why did the Antifa group and the other “counter-protestors” have to follow the Proud Boys and yell obscenities at them, throw projectiles at them, run at them, and then all of a sudden yell in their faces and become violent and aggressive and eventually attack them?  In fact according to reporting by the Detroit News:

“At about 2 p.m. Saturday, members of the Proud Boys marched past antifa members armed with assault weapons.”

Where is all of the reporting about Antifa and counter-protesters armed with assault weapons other than from the Detroit News?  Did Samuel Robinson or MLive report about the assault weapons and I just missed it or was the reporting by the Detroit News incorrect?

From MLive videographer Samuel Robinson's Twitter account:

The male-only Proud Boys have been described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Problem is the Southern Poverty Law Center has been described by many as a hate group these days, the SPLC starting off doing great work but has since turned into a hate group themselves.  The Proud Boys have disputed the accusation that they are a hate group.

Rev. Nathan Dannison, pastor of the First Congregational Church, which hosted a vigil by counter-protesters and possibly Antifa said:

“The Proud Boys, they not only have hatred for Jewish people and Muslim people, but they’re also very hateful of anybody who doesn’t look like them or act like them”

That may be true it may not be true.  He did not offer any examples of why he believes that.

Why couldn’t both groups peacefully hold their rallies along with the counter-protests?

Why did the “counter-protestors” and Antifa groups have to physically and violently confront the Proud Boys?   Because they wanted the fight, the news coverage, and the slant that would come from it and they go it.  There are people and news organizations that are accusing the Proud Boys of instigating the chaos simply for showing up.  True or not true people should be able to lawfully and peaceably rally without the fear of being attacked as long as their message is not one of violence or death towards others.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley said a few people were arrested.  He went on to say:

“A fight occurred, people were fighting, and that’s when we stepped in”

MLive reporter Samuel J. Robinson was arrested and charged with impeding traffic while reporting live on Facebook.  He was later released from custody on a $100 bond.  The question I have is; was he listening to police commands or does the media have the right not to obey police commands.

MLive is reporting:

City officials were unified in denouncing the Proud Boys “hate-mongering” message, and said it has no place in Kalamazoo, but Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas said the group achieved what it set out to.

The Chief was quoted in that article stating:

“The Proud Boys came to town and completed their mission by creating a decisive situation for the community then leaving, hopefully with the chaos continuing, which is their MO,”

WWMT is reporting:

"Thomas said there were nine adults and one minor arrested, including a reporter. Five of the cases were being handled by the city while four were being handled by the county.

For all five arrests handled by the city involving charges less than assault, Anderson said he was consulting with the city attorney to see if charges could be dropped.

Anderson said he didn't want to dismiss the seriousness of what was happening, but asked the charges to be dropped based on the context of the protests.

The chief said she did not immediately know whether those taken into custody were counterprotesters or members of the Proud Boy group, but said she did not believe any proud Boys were arrested"

I understand that people may not like or agree with what the Proud Boys or any other group stands for but does that mean they should not be heard?  Does that mean by simply being there they are the ones that are creating a decisive situation?  Perhaps the counter-protestors should not have attacked them which created a bad situation downtown.

Are the Proud Boys a group that foments hate?  From the Proud Boys Website the say their core values are:

  • Minimal Government
  • Maximum Freedom
  • Anti-Political Correctness
  • Anti-Drug War
  • Closed Borders
  • Anti-Racial Guilt
  • Anti-Racism
  • Pro-Free Speech (1st Amendment)
  • Pro-Gun Rights (2nd Amendment)
  • Glorifying the Entrepreneur
  • Venerating (A feeling of profound respect or reverence) the Housewife
  • Reinstating a Spirit of Western Chauvinism:  which definition of “chauvinism” they mean I do not know but here are 3 of them:
  1. Militant devotion to and glorification of one's country; fanatical patriotism.
  2. Prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind.
  3. The sentiments of a chauvin; enthusiastic, unreflecting devotion to any cause; especially, absurdly exaggerated patriotism or military enthusiasm.

I certainly would not agree with the second definition if that is what they believe in.  There is no room for bigotry or racism of any kind in this world.

They go on to say on their website:

“Though these are our central tenets, all that is required to become a Proud Boy is that a man declare he is “a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.” We do not discriminate based upon race or sexual orientation/preference. We are not an “ism”, “ist”, or “phobic” that fits the Left’s narrative. We truly believe that the West Is The Best and welcome those who believe in the same tenets as us”

I was unable to open the Antifa website. What we know of Antifa is that they are a far-left militant movement that calls itself "anti-fascist”. They have no defined organizational hierarchy or membership process. They appear to be a collection of autonomous Antifa groups and sees itself as a descendant of the European anti-Nazi movements.  They generally believe that the best way to combat ideas they find offensive is not through peaceful speech or debate but by direct action and physical confrontation.  Interesting that they call themselves “anti-fascist” but then resort to fascist tactics to beat anyone who thinks differently than them.  They themselves are actually acting like the fascists they say they are against.

Perhaps that is why all of the videos I saw from last Saturday’s events were the “fascist” group Antifa and the counter-protestors instigating all of the aggression & violence.  Did the Proud Boys retaliate yes, if you were being attacked what would you have done?

This is not a piece about supporting one group or the other.  It is simply giving you a perspective that I do not see being reported by anyone.  In fact, my perspective is supported by all of the videos that I have seen so far.  Is there a video of the Proud Boys instigating the violence, perhaps but I have yet to see one.  Please forward any to me that you may have.

According to the reporting:

“A spokesman for the Proud Boys couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Saturday. Several members of the group who identified themselves as antifa declined to give their names.”

We should allow all groups to have their rallies and protest in peace, as long as they are lawfully rallying and protesting.  If you go out to confront peaceful rallies and especially if you call yourself “counter-protestors” it appears that you are looking for a confrontation.

I support anyone or any group that wants to protest or hold a rally peacefully and legally no matter what they stand for or say.  That is called Free Speech.

Some People's speech we certainly do not like and in some cases believe what they stand for to be abhorrent, but does that mean we should not allow that speech or would the better course of action be to let them speak and just completely ignore them.  Most people who have horrible things to say hate being ignored and that would be the ultimate punishment against what they stand for.

That is certainly something we can all get behind.

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