The lone antifascist chick on the sidewalk holding a yellow sign that read “Fascists Fuck Off” at Saturday’s March4Trump rally at the Arizona state Capitol deserves a medal of some sort.
Wearing sunglasses and a black shirt showing a swastika in a red circle with a red line through it, she was often the only counterdemonstrator facing off a state Senate lawn full of Trumpkins, around 1,000 strong by my count.
It was hard not to admire her pluck, considering the amount of taunting she took from the pro-Trumpers who swirled around her and dogged her up and down the sidewalk — where she legally was allowed to protest the assemblage.
One young, plump dude with a Johnny Bravo hairdo and a vocabulary gleaned from Breitbart.com laughingly referred to the anti-fascist girl as a “snowflake,” the preferred pejorative of the alt-right, which indicates an overly sensitive lefty type.
So I asked him why he was calling her that, given that at that moment she literally was surrounded with ticked-off wingnuts, holding her ground.
“She’s all programmed,” he told me, “programmed and brainwashed.”
Like many other Trump supporters nearby, he objected to the F-bomb on her sign, though I found this disingenuous, since several of his compatriots had no problem throwing the word back in her face.
Talk about a bunch of “triggered” snowflakes.
A really nasty piece of work in too-short shorts with a gun on her hip, whom everyone called “Clarissa,” constantly waved a big American flag in the antifa gal’s face ("antifa" being slang for antifascist), coming close to hitting her with the pole to which the flag was affixed.
“Fuck you,” Clarissa raved at the antifa girl, adding the non sequitur, “You are a pedophile supporter!”
For the record, the antifa girl would not give me her name. And she was not always alone. Sometimes, there was a skinny guy with long hair next to her. Earlier, there had been three or four other folks backing her up.
And toward the beginning of the rally, which began shortly after noon and ran for the next three hours or so, there had been a smattering of other counterdemonstrators, but they didn’t stick around.
The ones I tried to speak with — carrying signs that read “Build Bridges Not Walls” — politely told me they were not responding to questions.
So much for the local resistance.
Around us all patrolled members of a heavily armed militia wearing helmets and army fatigues. They each carried an AR-15 or variation thereof, as well as multiple magazines of ammo, with their blood types stitched onto their outfits as if they were ready to be parachuted into Afghanistan, prepared to be wounded in battle.
I counted about 16 of them. Barb Heller, one of the organizers of the rally, told me the weekend warriors were members of a private group who had contacted her beforehand and offered to help with security for the event.
Heller would not give me the name of the group, but she said they shared security duties that day with the black-clad biker club, Sons of Liberty Riders.
Why all this security was needed is a mystery, as the Arizona Department of Public Safety was well represented on the ground, and had officers on the rooftops of nearby buildings.
I should point out that I made a couple of attempts to get a comment out of the pseudo-soldiers, who after the event was over, packed themselves into two large, six-wheeled army surplus vehicles without any visible license plates and took off.
Each time, I was told they were “not at liberty to comment.”
Of the speakers that day, perhaps the most normal was Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit, there with his wife, Marina — who looks like she just stepped off the cover of a late ’70s rock album — handing out million-dollar bills in play money with his name and face on them.
DeWit is much rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Senate next year against fellow Republican and current holder of that title Jeff Flake, whose criticism of now-President Trump during the campaign angered many in the GOP, not the least of whom is Donald Trump.
And DeWit stands to benefit from the billionaire’s anger at Flake, as DeWit was the first elected official in the country to endorse the man now in the White House. He ran Trump’s state campaign during the primary, served as both the chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the national campaign, and was a special adviser on the transition team.
At the podium with Marina, DeWit was greeted with chants of “Take out Flake.” Some in the crowd held signs that read “We want DeWit for Senate.”
DeWit laughed at the chants.
“I was as disappointed as anyone in him, that’s for sure,” he said of Flake, launching into a rah-rah speech about how awesome Trump is, before taking a panoramic selfie of himself and the crowd, ostensibly to send to Trump.
“I have never been so proud in my life to be called deplorable,” DeWit enthused. “It’s a great day to be deplorable, isn’t it?”
His audience, a mass of folks in red “Make America Great Again” T-shirts and hats, whooped it up in response. Afterward, I caught up with DeWit as he posed for pics with fans. He was all demurrals when asked if he would be challenging Flake in 2018.
“I’m not running for anything right now,” he told me through a toothy grin. “I’m here just to be here because I want to support our president, and support this crowd of great Americans, who are here to support our president.”
That these great Americans included guys in Oath Keepers T-shirts, militiamen, and alt-right youth didn’t seem to bother him much. But then, DeWit knows that the far right loathes Flake, and its enthusiastic support will be key to taking on Flake in a primary.
Other speakers included former Arizona state Senator Lori Klein-Corbin, infamous for once pointing her gun at a reporter while being interviewed, who exclaimed that God had put Trump in the White House.
During their turns on the mic, disgraced former Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeu bragged about being on CNN recently with his pal Anderson Cooper. And anti-government former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack called on President Trump to review the cases of all those sent to the federal pen under President Obama, “and set them free.”
Apparently, this proposal does not extend to gang members, ISIS-inspired terrorists, and drug runners sent to the pokey under Obama, but rather to anti-government “patriots” who ran afoul of the law.
One of the more rousing speeches given was by Joanne Selena Lopez Cervantez, a trans Latina who ran as an independent write-in candidate for U.S. Senate last year against John McCain.
As “Selena Lopez,” she scored 223 votes statewide, and garnered some media attention during her campaign by promising, if Hillary Clinton became president, to “put a bullet in her head.”
She thanked the attending Trumpkins for their support when she came out publicly.
“When I exposed who I am, my gender identity, you guys were so supportive, it’s crazy,” she told them, adding that it was not true that the LGBTQ community was against them.
Some folks seemed confused by her declaration, others cheered her, which I suppose is a sign of progress for the deplorables.
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But will they allow her to use the public restroom of her choice, I wonder?
Update March 7, 2017: The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the secretive militia mentioned above as the Arizona Liberty Guard.