Anti-Fascism is a Public Service. Proud Boys Terrorized the Nation’s Capital


Abby Shab
8 min readDec 22, 2020


Proud Boys marching into Freedom Plaza. | 12 Dec 2020 | Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud

Last month, thousands of Trump fanatics came to DC to rally for their dejected leader. Three activists were stabbed by Trump supporters. The country didn’t bat an eye.

On December 12th, Proud Boys, conspiracy theorists, and thousands more conservative sore-losers returned to Washington to defend the president’s lies about election fraud. Most folks that watch the news know this happened, and they know that violence broke out once again. But what they don’t know — what they can’t know, unless they walked the streets downtown — is that the nation’s capital became a warzone that night. A real battleground. With real human consequences. And very real political stakes.

The Proud Boys and other alt-right groups are not just backwards social clubs. They are not just rambunctious white boys looking to Donald Trump to make them feel important again. They are not just another absurdity in the circus that has defined the Trump presidency, and they are not MAGA’s last gasp.

They are Donald Trump’s insurance policy. And they are preparing for war.

So what happened on December 12th?

“F*ck 12/12” (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

This was the day that Trump’s coalition of white desperation came to DC for the second Million MAGA March. State electors were set to cast their final votes in the 2020 election on the following Monday, so thousands of Trump acolytes came to Washington to voice their malcontent.

The next day, local and national news stations reported that four people were stabbed and 33 arrests were made as “Trump supporters and counter-protesters clashed” in the streets. But, as any DC activist will tell you, the mainstream media did not even attempt to do this story justice. Just as they depicted the violence in November as vaguely coming from both sides, yet again, popular media sources obscured who the real predators are.

They’ve told the country that these are aberrant altercations between extremists on both the left and right. In doing so, they implicitly downplay the fact that one side is — literally — filled with Nazis bent on causing harm and destruction.

*CW: Graphic violence, misogyny, racism, homophobia*

This is only one example of non-violent activists attacked by Trump supporters. If you walked the streets of downtown DC in black that night, no matter who you are, this could’ve been you. Dozens of equally brutal attacks occurred on December 12th. All instigated by Proud Boys and other alt-right factions.

While anti-racist/anti-fascist collectives and individuals gathered to protect Black Lives Matter Plaza (BLMP) in front of the White House, roughly 700 Proud Boys roamed the streets in death squads, searching for potential victims.

DC police (MPD) attempted throughout the day to separate Trump supporters from counter-demonstrators. This lead them to periodically block entrances to BLMP, where activists agreed to defend the community’s art memorial to Black lives taken by police brutality and systemic racism. As the sun came down around 6pm, a large group of anti-racists/anti-fascists began a march through the city to show strength in the face of white supremacy, and to protect vulnerable individuals outside of the Plaza.

A firework detonates as the anti-fascist march encounters Proud Boys (Twitter/@garmo4life)*

If you’re well informed, you may know that at least one Proud Boy was among the four people stabbed. And if you’re badly informed, you may have heard that the stabber was a BLM/Antifa activist.

The latter is a lie spun by right-wing news channels. The Washington Post said that police could not confirm the stabber was affiliated with any group. Though, if he was one of ours, I know our organizers would never have let him walk the streets alone.

In any case, the Proud Boys unquestionably attacked him first.

The man was arrested. But the case for self-defense is crystal clear.

I was in the streets that night, trapped outside the police line surrounding BLMP. For hours, I was a refugee lurking in the streets of my hometown. Several of my personal friends were brutalized and beaten by Proud Boys. If my partner and I had not brought a non-black change of clothes, if we made any missteps, told the wrong lie, or turned down the wrong alley, we would have been assaulted as well.

It’s been a week since the MAGA invasion turned my city into a battleground. Collecting my reflections and processing that trauma has been a challenge. I am still struggling to sift through it all and to put it to paper. But the take-away, I think, is the same as it’s always been:

“F*ck 12/12” (Tyrone Turner/WAMU)

The fascists must be stopped. And the country must wake up to the dire conditions that have lead us to nation-wide authoritarian violence.

The Proud Boys are fascists. Just like the Nazis so many of them try to emulate, they commit acts of violence against innocent people demonized by their party’s interests. They hate communists, they hate queer people, they hate Black Lives Matter, and they really hate “antifa.”

Why? Because antifa stands for anti-fascist.

“6 million wasn’t enough” referring to the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. This is a Proud Boy. They are Nazis. (Twitter)

Because “antifa” represents the united efforts of ordinary people bold enough to resist their hateful ideas.

Anti-fascism is a public service because the public is being actively threatened by bigoted nationalists lead by Donald Trump. For all of the mainstream and right-wing media’s efforts to demonize us, black bloc demonstrators like myself are still organizing to stand for justice and to confront those that set us further back.

This year’s uprisings for police abolition and BIPOC liberation have morphed, temporarily, into something else. What began as a nation-wide reckoning on race has created a broad alliance of comrades who agree that being anti-racist means standing up to the president’s racist, misogynistic, and homophobic death cult.

Anti-racism and anti-fascism have coalesced into the same force for justice. We still want to defund and abolish the police. We still want communities of color to be given the support and opportunities they deserve. We still want to renovate the American system to finally make space for the oppressed and disenfranchised.

However, since the election, we have had to focus on fighting fucking Nazis.

And we did it fairly well.

Contrary to what Bill Barr, Alex Jones, and Fucker Carlson would have you believe, none of the people in that video are paid by George Soros.

Or the PRC. Or Putin. Or Joe Biden.

DC’s activist community is an organic network of organizations, co-ops, collectives, and dozens of unaffiliated individuals that share a belief in radical love and in caring for local communities. We organize regular mutual aid events — providing meals, clothes, health services, and communal support to the unhoused and underserved in DC. We raise funds and awareness for Black lives in need. We write press releases and public statements about the injustices in our city and around the nation. And we are NOT all affiliated with Black Lives Matter (TM). The majority of organizations working on the ground are grassroots and community funded. While Black Lives Matter DC often coordinates with the grassroots orgs, and though they are a big part of our family, it is wrong to say that we all share the same black and yellow banner.

We all believe that Black lives matter. But there is a wide range of how these orgs and individuals interpret how to fight for that belief. Many want to march and demonstrate publicly to pressure political leaders to make changes. Some seek to address systemic failures horizontally, by independently crowd sourcing and distributing resources which the government has failed to provide. Others are focused on venting our collective rage at police officers and the American imperial system. And a number are intent on fighting fascists, and keeping white nationalist reactionaries at bay while we advocate for systemic change.

For December 12th, a broad coalition was formed between these organizations to do just that.

Anti-racist/Anti-fascist Defense Coalition (Dee Dwer/NPR)

I don’t think Joe Biden’s communist insurgent force could ever look as good as these comrades.

And just because you see white folks in black bloc, shouting our chants, and holding our lines, it does not mean that the movement for BIPOC liberation has been infiltrated by outside agitators. In many cases, putting white volunteers at the front line was a conscious choice made collectively by leaders of color to keep our Black comrades safe.

We are all committed, foremost, to keeping the community and each other protected. Our shared belief in the strength of human dignity empowers us to love and care for one another. We strive to embody the change that the world so desperately needs— the change which you, the average American, must embrace if you claim to believe in progress.

BLM on 12/12 (Dee Dwer/NPR)

On January 6th, Proud Boys and other alt-right barbarians will return to DC to bolster Donald’s attempted coup. Fascists will come in greater numbers and they will be more desperate, ravenous, and eager to prove just how dangerous they can be. The current president has already endorsed this rally. And conservative extremists are already talking about live ammunition for January 20th’s inauguration.

I would not ask a random citizen to stand up against violent white nationalists. I would not pressure anyone to put themselves in danger before they discover that resolve on their own.

But I will ask every American that voted for Joe Biden, every person who believes that Black Lives Matter, and every citizen that ever hated Donald Trump to start spreading the word:

The Anti-Fascists and Anti-Racists need your help.

Joe Biden’s election did not make everything ok.

We suffered greatly on the 12th. We did not “win.” We are tired and traumatized, but we will not stop fighting because the American future depends on it.

“Antifa” has always been on your side. We have never been what you, the American people, need to fear. The nation-wide activist community is a family of radical lovers, and we do not deserve to be left alone.

Reach out to your local organizations. Give what funds and resources you can to those fighting in the streets. Step out of your daily routine and pay attention to the crises around you.

History does not naturally arc upward. It has to be pushed that way. And Donald Trump’s cult following is actively pushing us back.

Person defending BLM Plaza, 12 Dec 2020 (Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud)

Fuck Donald Trump. Fuck the Proud Boys. And Fuck white supremacy.

The future belongs to all of us.



Abby Shab

Radical activist of color working to thrive & imagine a better world. I hope we can grow through honest exchange & fearless reflection. Black Lives Matter