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rightwing Nazis March In Tennessee Today


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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ― We spotted our tail not long after the neo-Nazi rally ended: a black GMC Sierra pickup with tinted windows and silver trim. In my rear-view mirror, I could see the outlines of two men in the cab: big dudes with military haircuts and bull necks ― not-Bad wording-around types.

I turned left slowly. So did the pickup. At the end of the next block, I turned right. The pickup did too.

“Is that truck with you guys?” I asked Corey Lemley, an anti-fascist activist sitting in the passenger seat of my rental car. Lemley turned to look out the back window.

“Nope.”

It was the last weekend of October, and I’d come to middle Tennessee to cover a pair of “White Lives Matter” rallies thrown by several of the white supremacist groups responsible for the deadly carnage in Charlottesville in August. The League of the South, a Southern separatist group, had taken the lead in organizing the rallies, with support from other groups, including Matt Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party, a neo-Nazi outfit.

Heimbach’s Nazis are returning to Tennessee to protest the Women’s March taking place in Knoxville on Sunday. The Nazis plan to attach themselves to a competing anti-abortion “March for Life” rally. How this will pan out for the fascists is anyone’s guess, but back in October, things didn’t go well for them in the Volunteer State. Heimbach’s crew started a fight with a biracial couple in a Brentwood pub. And their two rallies only put a spotlight on the weakness of their movement and the strength of their opposition. The second event, in Murfreesboro, was a total flop. Heimbach’s Nazis bailed, scared off by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who descended on Murfreesboro’s main square.

I’d been standing with those counter-demonstrators at the end of the rally when the crowd parted for a black-clad column of activists marching from the square ― Lemley’s crew, fifty militant anti-fascists, most of them members of Nashville Anti-Racist Action. (Many of the people in Lemley’s group will mobilize again to confront Heimbach anew.) People gawked and took photos. The ARA had a different air about them. They were ready to throw down. They were ready to go. Many had strips of tape across their chests with “Heather” written on them in tribute to Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist killed in Charlottesville when a car plowed into a crowd. A white supremacist has been charged with murder in the case.

“Murfreesboro, we got your back!” shouted one ARA member, as Lemley and the troop made their way down the street. His fellow antifa roared in response, “We got your back! We got your back!”

I’d interviewed Lemley a few days earlier over the phone. He was the local antifa front man, in part because he’d been organizing publicly in the Nashville area for months after white supremacists doxed him. We’d arranged to do a post-rally interview, this one on camera, and Lemley gave me the address of a safe house where I could pick him up to drive him to a HuffPost video team.

But when I’d arrived in my Ford Fusion Hybrid ― which, notably, allows a motorist to trade engine performance for efficiency with the push of an “EcoSelect” button ― I saw multiple police cruisers circling ominously through the quiet neighborhood. Vehicles with tinted windows idled at intersections. I would later learn that a drone had hovered over the safe house before the rally.

The GMC, though, was a more pressing concern. As soon as Lemley and another ARA member got into my car, the black pickup had appeared, right behind us, not even feigning subtlety after we doubled back on a side street.

“They’re definitely following us,” I said.

I stamped on the pedal of the Fusion and made a quick turn at a stop sign, then another one at a light. The GMC sped up and stayed on us. How was this possible? Murfreesboro was crawling with cops. Where were they now? And who was on our tail? This wasn’t Heimbach’s style.

I swung abruptly across traffic and pulled into a driveway across the street, leaving no way for the GMC to follow. The men in the pickup would have to make a move now. They drove past us and stopped. It looked like they were about to get out.

Lemley reached into a backpack at his feet.

“If they want it, they can get it,” he said.

He pulled out a .40 caliber Sig Sauer P226.

The gun chk-chkd as he chambered a round.

5a641cf01c00003d00811b3e.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale
COREY LEMLEY
Corey Lemley (in black beanie) of Nashville ARA defends a line of clergy during the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.

I’d been talking to antifa for months, hearing about the risks they took to fight fascism in America. Last April, somebody put a quarter stick of dynamite in Lemley’s mailbox and blew it to bits. In August, he’d been on the front lines in Charlottesville, part of an antifa defensive unit that fought off a battalion of League of the South racists who charged with weapons and shields at a group of clergy. (“Antifa saved my life twice,” said Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a local minister.)

 

The danger didn’t seem real until you experienced it. And the shock had less to do with the potential for bloodshed in America than the realization that organized political violence isn’t some distant, foreign problem. And that forces within our own country have stoked it.

Over the last year, far-right propagandists such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec have hyped antifa hysteria on social media, using the most garish images and examples of antifa dust-ups with racists and fascists to demonize the entirety of the left, as well as centrist liberals, the media and anyone who might challenge President Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda. Around the time I was in Murfreesboro, one of these operatives, Jeff Giesea, a Stanford University graduate and Peter Thiel associate who has, according to several of my sources, acted as a paymaster for far-right extremists online, tweeted that I, too, was antifa, then lied about it when I challenged him.

For conservatives, antifa are a convenient bogeyman, a faceless “commie” mob that allows the political right to engage in “both sides” rhetoric and distract from dangerous elements in the Republican base. There are reasons beyond gun sales that political organizations such as the National Rifle Association fearmonger about anti-fascists and invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros mailing them checks. These lies, which create an easy out-group to hate, have permeated the minds of many on the right.

But I’d spent long hours getting to know antifa, and although they tended to be ardent personalities, their motivation was simple: to combat fascism, racism, misogyny, intolerance and inequality. Their tactics could, at times, be worrisome, and their anarchist and anti-capitalist views occasionally prompted a few of them to break the window of a Starbucks. As a result, they were vilified as a threat to the system in a way that violent white supremacist and fascist organizations, which routinely commit acts of domestic terrorism, were not.

5a6421581c00003d00811b3f.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale
JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

Lemley and I watched the pickup across the street, waiting to see if someone would emerge. After the Murfreesboro rally ended, I’d been approached by a strange young man ― frail, well-groomed and painfully awkward in the manner of an internet goblin. Based on the questions he asked me about antifa, I made him as an alt-right spotter from the other camp. His eyes warily tracked the ARA activists as they left the town square. The alt-right tried to keep tabs on antifa. But this kind of aggressive pursuit felt off for them. It felt military.

“They could be militia,” I said to Lemley, referring to the far-right Three Percenter groups that often show up at Nazi rallies and stand with their backs to the fascists and long guns pointed at anti-fascists, seemingly looking for an excuse to shoot.

I reversed the Fusion out of the driveway and sped away in the direction we’d come. The truck did a U-turn and barreled after us. What happened next is hazy, but I remember pulling up to a red light, the GMC two vehicles behind us, then cutting in front of an entire lane of traffic when the light changed to get to the on-ramp of a highway. The truck did the same maneuver in a far more dangerous fashion, forcing cars to veer out of its way.

I called the HuffPost video producer and asked for her team’s location. My plan was to screech to a halt in front of a running video camera, which would likely scare away our pursuers. The producer told me she was in a park, with police nearby. The park was five miles outside town.

As we lashed through traffic, I watched the truck try to keep up in my rear-view mirror. At one point, the GMC swerved across double yellow lines into oncoming traffic. Lemley’s cell phone had died, and I was driving with one hand and navigating Google maps on my phone with the other. Even worse, the Fusion’s EcoBoost button seemed stuck. I kept jabbing at it to get more speed, but failed to detect a horsepower upgrade.

Where were the cops?

I tried to shake the truck by turning off the highway briefly and cutting through a bank’s parking lot and back onto the highway. The truck roared after us, but I managed to weave through several cars and make another turn onto a side street. The GMC was gone. The driver must have missed us. We’d lost them.

And we hadn’t been the only ones followed. Lemley later learned that around six other trucks had tailed anti-fascist vehicles after the rally. It had been a coordinated operation. A member of Nashville ARA who goes by Julez described to me how trucks had circled the safe house late into the night.

“The people who do this work with us are not scared of these people,” Julez said. “But it’s unnerving to go into this space with a bunch of guys like that who just want to Bad wording kill people.” 

Julez told me he’d gotten a good look at one of the men in the trucks. He said the man had a patch on his shirt.

“It said Smyrna SWAT team,” Julez told me.

I struggled to process that information. Smyrna was a town a few miles north of Murfreesboro on the way to Nashville. And the Smyrna Police Department had indeed sent its SWAT team to Murfreesboro, according to Sgt. Bobby Gibson, the department’s SWAT team commander. But Gibson told me on Sunday that his officers had been staged away from the rally as a support unit and never left that location.

“We don’t even have a vehicle that matches that description,” Gibson said. “There was nobody from our police department following anybody.”

Gibson didn’t think it was implausible that militia members could have been chasing us. “There was a lot of activity from those groups prior to and after this event.”

Besides, he added, if law enforcement has a reason to stop you, they’re going to stop you. “And from what you described, you gave them grounds to stop you.”

So who were those bull-necked goons in the GMC? Fascists? A militia posse? And will they be back Sunday in Knoxville? It’s a shame to end on a mystery, but so it goes.

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Antifa building torched in Thessaloniki, Greece (VIDEOS)

Published time: 22 Jan, 2018 00:56Edited time: 22 Jan, 2018 09:38
Antifa building torched in Thessaloniki, Greece (VIDEOS)
© Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza / Facebook
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A building occupied by left-wing Antifa activists in Thessaloniki was torched by reported right-wing nationalists during a massive rally in the Greek port city demanding the neighboring Republic of Macedonia change its name.

 

At around 3:30 in the afternoon, "a group of 60-70 fascists attacked our building with Molotov cocktails, causing its arson," left-wing group Libertatia said in a statement.

 

https://www.rt.com/news/416594-antifa-building-torched-in-thessaloniki/

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3 minutes ago, Whitemajikman said:

Antifa building torched in Thessaloniki, Greece (VIDEOS)

Published time: 22 Jan, 2018 00:56Edited time: 22 Jan, 2018 09:38
Antifa building torched in Thessaloniki, Greece (VIDEOS)
© Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza / Facebook
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
A building occupied by left-wing Antifa activists in Thessaloniki was torched by reported right-wing nationalists during a massive rally in the Greek port city demanding the neighboring Republic of Macedonia change its name.

 

At around 3:30 in the afternoon, "a group of 60-70 fascists attacked our building with Molotov cocktails, causing its arson," left-wing group Libertatia said in a statement.

 

https://www.rt.com/news/416594-antifa-building-torched-in-thessaloniki/

 

 

Russian news service?! Are you for real?

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47 minutes ago, benson13 said:

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ― We spotted our tail not long after the neo-Nazi rally ended: a black GMC Sierra pickup with tinted windows and silver trim. In my rear-view mirror, I could see the outlines of two men in the cab: big dudes with military haircuts and bull necks ― not-Bad wording-around types.

I turned left slowly. So did the pickup. At the end of the next block, I turned right. The pickup did too.

“Is that truck with you guys?” I asked Corey Lemley, an anti-fascist activist sitting in the passenger seat of my rental car. Lemley turned to look out the back window.

“Nope.”

It was the last weekend of October, and I’d come to middle Tennessee to cover a pair of “White Lives Matter” rallies thrown by several of the white supremacist groups responsible for the deadly carnage in Charlottesville in August. The League of the South, a Southern separatist group, had taken the lead in organizing the rallies, with support from other groups, including Matt Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party, a neo-Nazi outfit.

Heimbach’s Nazis are returning to Tennessee to protest the Women’s March taking place in Knoxville on Sunday. The Nazis plan to attach themselves to a competing anti-abortion “March for Life” rally. How this will pan out for the fascists is anyone’s guess, but back in October, things didn’t go well for them in the Volunteer State. Heimbach’s crew started a fight with a biracial couple in a Brentwood pub. And their two rallies only put a spotlight on the weakness of their movement and the strength of their opposition. The second event, in Murfreesboro, was a total flop. Heimbach’s Nazis bailed, scared off by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who descended on Murfreesboro’s main square.

I’d been standing with those counter-demonstrators at the end of the rally when the crowd parted for a black-clad column of activists marching from the square ― Lemley’s crew, fifty militant anti-fascists, most of them members of Nashville Anti-Racist Action. (Many of the people in Lemley’s group will mobilize again to confront Heimbach anew.) People gawked and took photos. The ARA had a different air about them. They were ready to throw down. They were ready to go. Many had strips of tape across their chests with “Heather” written on them in tribute to Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist killed in Charlottesville when a car plowed into a crowd. A white supremacist has been charged with murder in the case.

“Murfreesboro, we got your back!” shouted one ARA member, as Lemley and the troop made their way down the street. His fellow antifa roared in response, “We got your back! We got your back!”

I’d interviewed Lemley a few days earlier over the phone. He was the local antifa front man, in part because he’d been organizing publicly in the Nashville area for months after white supremacists doxed him. We’d arranged to do a post-rally interview, this one on camera, and Lemley gave me the address of a safe house where I could pick him up to drive him to a HuffPost video team.

But when I’d arrived in my Ford Fusion Hybrid ― which, notably, allows a motorist to trade engine performance for efficiency with the push of an “EcoSelect” button ― I saw multiple police cruisers circling ominously through the quiet neighborhood. Vehicles with tinted windows idled at intersections. I would later learn that a drone had hovered over the safe house before the rally.

The GMC, though, was a more pressing concern. As soon as Lemley and another ARA member got into my car, the black pickup had appeared, right behind us, not even feigning subtlety after we doubled back on a side street.

“They’re definitely following us,” I said.

I stamped on the pedal of the Fusion and made a quick turn at a stop sign, then another one at a light. The GMC sped up and stayed on us. How was this possible? Murfreesboro was crawling with cops. Where were they now? And who was on our tail? This wasn’t Heimbach’s style.

I swung abruptly across traffic and pulled into a driveway across the street, leaving no way for the GMC to follow. The men in the pickup would have to make a move now. They drove past us and stopped. It looked like they were about to get out.

Lemley reached into a backpack at his feet.

“If they want it, they can get it,” he said.

He pulled out a .40 caliber Sig Sauer P226.

The gun chk-chkd as he chambered a round.

5a641cf01c00003d00811b3e.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale

COREY LEMLEY

Corey Lemley (in black beanie) of Nashville ARA defends a line of clergy during the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.

I’d been talking to antifa for months, hearing about the risks they took to fight fascism in America. Last April, somebody put a quarter stick of dynamite in Lemley’s mailbox and blew it to bits. In August, he’d been on the front lines in Charlottesville, part of an antifa defensive unit that fought off a battalion of League of the South racists who charged with weapons and shields at a group of clergy. (“Antifa saved my life twice,” said Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a local minister.)

 

The danger didn’t seem real until you experienced it. And the shock had less to do with the potential for bloodshed in America than the realization that organized political violence isn’t some distant, foreign problem. And that forces within our own country have stoked it.

Over the last year, far-right propagandists such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec have hyped antifa hysteria on social media, using the most garish images and examples of antifa dust-ups with racists and fascists to demonize the entirety of the left, as well as centrist liberals, the media and anyone who might challenge President Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda. Around the time I was in Murfreesboro, one of these operatives, Jeff Giesea, a Stanford University graduate and Peter Thiel associate who has, according to several of my sources, acted as a paymaster for far-right extremists online, tweeted that I, too, was antifa, then lied about it when I challenged him.

For conservatives, antifa are a convenient bogeyman, a faceless “commie” mob that allows the political right to engage in “both sides” rhetoric and distract from dangerous elements in the Republican base. There are reasons beyond gun sales that political organizations such as the National Rifle Association fearmonger about anti-fascists and invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros mailing them checks. These lies, which create an easy out-group to hate, have permeated the minds of many on the right.

But I’d spent long hours getting to know antifa, and although they tended to be ardent personalities, their motivation was simple: to combat fascism, racism, misogyny, intolerance and inequality. Their tactics could, at times, be worrisome, and their anarchist and anti-capitalist views occasionally prompted a few of them to break the window of a Starbucks. As a result, they were vilified as a threat to the system in a way that violent white supremacist and fascist organizations, which routinely commit acts of domestic terrorism, were not.

5a6421581c00003d00811b3f.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale

JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

Lemley and I watched the pickup across the street, waiting to see if someone would emerge. After the Murfreesboro rally ended, I’d been approached by a strange young man ― frail, well-groomed and painfully awkward in the manner of an internet goblin. Based on the questions he asked me about antifa, I made him as an alt-right spotter from the other camp. His eyes warily tracked the ARA activists as they left the town square. The alt-right tried to keep tabs on antifa. But this kind of aggressive pursuit felt off for them. It felt military.

“They could be militia,” I said to Lemley, referring to the far-right Three Percenter groups that often show up at Nazi rallies and stand with their backs to the fascists and long guns pointed at anti-fascists, seemingly looking for an excuse to shoot.

I reversed the Fusion out of the driveway and sped away in the direction we’d come. The truck did a U-turn and barreled after us. What happened next is hazy, but I remember pulling up to a red light, the GMC two vehicles behind us, then cutting in front of an entire lane of traffic when the light changed to get to the on-ramp of a highway. The truck did the same maneuver in a far more dangerous fashion, forcing cars to veer out of its way.

I called the HuffPost video producer and asked for her team’s location. My plan was to screech to a halt in front of a running video camera, which would likely scare away our pursuers. The producer told me she was in a park, with police nearby. The park was five miles outside town.

As we lashed through traffic, I watched the truck try to keep up in my rear-view mirror. At one point, the GMC swerved across double yellow lines into oncoming traffic. Lemley’s cell phone had died, and I was driving with one hand and navigating Google maps on my phone with the other. Even worse, the Fusion’s EcoBoost button seemed stuck. I kept jabbing at it to get more speed, but failed to detect a horsepower upgrade.

Where were the cops?

I tried to shake the truck by turning off the highway briefly and cutting through a bank’s parking lot and back onto the highway. The truck roared after us, but I managed to weave through several cars and make another turn onto a side street. The GMC was gone. The driver must have missed us. We’d lost them.

And we hadn’t been the only ones followed. Lemley later learned that around six other trucks had tailed anti-fascist vehicles after the rally. It had been a coordinated operation. A member of Nashville ARA who goes by Julez described to me how trucks had circled the safe house late into the night.

“The people who do this work with us are not scared of these people,” Julez said. “But it’s unnerving to go into this space with a bunch of guys like that who just want to Bad wording kill people.” 

Julez told me he’d gotten a good look at one of the men in the trucks. He said the man had a patch on his shirt.

“It said Smyrna SWAT team,” Julez told me.

I struggled to process that information. Smyrna was a town a few miles north of Murfreesboro on the way to Nashville. And the Smyrna Police Department had indeed sent its SWAT team to Murfreesboro, according to Sgt. Bobby Gibson, the department’s SWAT team commander. But Gibson told me on Sunday that his officers had been staged away from the rally as a support unit and never left that location.

“We don’t even have a vehicle that matches that description,” Gibson said. “There was nobody from our police department following anybody.”

Gibson didn’t think it was implausible that militia members could have been chasing us. “There was a lot of activity from those groups prior to and after this event.”

Besides, he added, if law enforcement has a reason to stop you, they’re going to stop you. “And from what you described, you gave them grounds to stop you.”

So who were those bull-necked goons in the GMC? Fascists? A militia posse? And will they be back Sunday in Knoxville? It’s a shame to end on a mystery, but so it goes.

Where is antifa?

 

Heh, heh, heh!

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White guy allegedly detonated 2 IEDs at mall. No Trump tweet! Why?

 

On Monday morning, Breitbart’s homepage featured a story about “knife-wielding jihadist inmates” who attacked a prison guard in France, but not a single word about the IEDs in Florida. A brief write-up was featured toward the bottom of Fox News’ homepage. President Trump — reliably quick to politicize act of violence committed by Muslims, even when they happen overseas — hasn’t said anything about the incident as this is published.

 

https://egbertowillies.com/2018/01/22/white-guy-detonated-ied-mall/

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Just now, untitled said:

 

 

Russian news service?! Are you for real?

 

Wish I had direct line with Putin, but I don’t – RT Editor-in-Chief

Published time: 22 Jan, 2018 08:13Edited time: 22 Jan, 2018 08:44
Wish I had direct line with Putin, but I don’t – RT Editor-in-Chief
© dem10 / Getty Images
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Despite the belief RT “gets orders” from the Kremlin, it enjoys more editorial freedom than many US media outlets which unquestioningly believe the authorities – despite being fed proven lies before, RT's editor-in-chief says.

RT’s success could never have been possible had it been controlled directly from the Kremlin, as many in the Western media seem to believe, Margarita Simonyan told AP in an exclusive interview. RT was specifically created and designed to be as independent as possible from day one.

“I’m really so tired of this argument that all we ever do is under Kremlin orders and so on. How is it even technically possible?” Simonyan asked. Neither does RT impose its opinion on its hosts, guests or contributors. “You can't possibly imagine that I’m given orders from the Kremlin. I’m not on the air – people like Larry King are on the air. Can you imagine that I call him and tell him what to say?”

And no, Vladimir Putin is not calling the shots either. “Believe me, I don’t have my own conversations with [Putin], I’ve never talked to him on the phone,” Simonyan said. “I’ve never in my life. – I would like to, you know, but it doesn’t work like that.”

US media 'principles' clash with reality

RT offers an alternative to mainstream points of view, but it strives to remain balanced, including when covering the 2016 US Presidential election. Unlike the American media, which rushed to paint RT as a “Russian propaganda” tool while being far from impartial themselves.

“We’ve been hearing from America for years and years: ‘A journalist cannot have a political view, a journalist can support or not support a certain party or a candidate.’ But when we watch American TV, read American newspapers... We see that it’s a lie,” Simonyan said. “All of the American journalists, almost all of them, support or are against a certain candidate, or a president, or the whole government or party.”

US media were blindsided when RT leveled the playing field by actually sticking to the rules the Americans had written. “I was giving an interview to an American station and a correspondent asked me, ‘Do you think it’s all right for a foreign media [outlet] to come to our country to broadcast and to talk to our audience? Why should it be all right?’” Simonyan recalled. “And I’ve said: ‘Well, because, you’ve invented that, because American media have been in different countries for ages, talking to their audiences. Is that ok?’ And the correspondent said, ‘Well, I didn’t realize that.’ It’s the perfect answer, really.”

 

Meddling saga shows how media take authorities' word for anything

The way the US media jumped on the 2016 “Russian election meddling” narrative shows how unwilling they are to question their authorities' claims. They took the official word, despite the absence of any solid proof.

This has happened before, but no lessons seem to have been learned. “The government, the CIA tells the American audience: ‘There has been Russian involvement in the elections.’ And journalists are asking me questions as if that’s the fact,” Simonyan said.

“And I’m asking them questions [too], ‘Why do you think it’s a fact? Did you see any proof?’ – ‘Well the CIA told us so.’ I tell them, 'Well the CIA told you many many things that later happened to be a lie.’”

The Iraq War is one example where blind trust failed the US media. “I think if there were more voices in the media against this stupid – and as we now know, unfair and dishonest – war, maybe it would never have happened,” Simonyan pointed out. Even those who opposed the war said that, while weapons of mass destruction were not reason enough to invade, they did not doubt the weapons were actually there, she added.

US & Russia will get along, and RT will be fine

Some US officials said branding RT America as a “foreign agent” last November was just a formality that wouldn't impede the channel's operation. Well, it wasn't, and it did.

The stigmatizing label scares away both audiences and employees, making journalism that much more difficult to practice. “It’s a matter of making our work extremely more difficult, it’s a matter of intimidating our partners, it’s a matter of making our partners… harsher on us,” Simonyan said.

READ MORE: ‘Condolences to journalists’: RT editor-in-chief on Russia’s mirror-response bill on foreign media

“You know that Twitter and Facebook and the others have been called to Congress and made to testify about how on Earth they ever let us become so popular. And after that some decisions have been taken by them, against us, precisely because of that, precisely because of that pressure.”

Despite the current turbulence in relations between Washington and Moscow, the RT and Sputnik Editor-in-Chief believes the US and Russia will eventually get along, and news organizations from both nations will be able to work unhindered.

“I would like the world to normalize, and when the world normalizes, everything is going to be fine with RT,” Simonyan said. “I do not know two people more alike than Russians and Americans.”

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4 hours ago, benson13 said:

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ― We spotted our tail not long after the neo-Nazi rally ended: a black GMC Sierra pickup with tinted windows and silver trim. In my rear-view mirror, I could see the outlines of two men in the cab: big dudes with military haircuts and bull necks ― not-Bad wording-around types.

I turned left slowly. So did the pickup. At the end of the next block, I turned right. The pickup did too.

“Is that truck with you guys?” I asked Corey Lemley, an anti-fascist activist sitting in the passenger seat of my rental car. Lemley turned to look out the back window.

“Nope.”

It was the last weekend of October, and I’d come to middle Tennessee to cover a pair of “White Lives Matter” rallies thrown by several of the white supremacist groups responsible for the deadly carnage in Charlottesville in August. The League of the South, a Southern separatist group, had taken the lead in organizing the rallies, with support from other groups, including Matt Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party, a neo-Nazi outfit.

Heimbach’s Nazis are returning to Tennessee to protest the Women’s March taking place in Knoxville on Sunday. The Nazis plan to attach themselves to a competing anti-abortion “March for Life” rally. How this will pan out for the fascists is anyone’s guess, but back in October, things didn’t go well for them in the Volunteer State. Heimbach’s crew started a fight with a biracial couple in a Brentwood pub. And their two rallies only put a spotlight on the weakness of their movement and the strength of their opposition. The second event, in Murfreesboro, was a total flop. Heimbach’s Nazis bailed, scared off by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who descended on Murfreesboro’s main square.

I’d been standing with those counter-demonstrators at the end of the rally when the crowd parted for a black-clad column of activists marching from the square ― Lemley’s crew, fifty militant anti-fascists, most of them members of Nashville Anti-Racist Action. (Many of the people in Lemley’s group will mobilize again to confront Heimbach anew.) People gawked and took photos. The ARA had a different air about them. They were ready to throw down. They were ready to go. Many had strips of tape across their chests with “Heather” written on them in tribute to Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist killed in Charlottesville when a car plowed into a crowd. A white supremacist has been charged with murder in the case.

“Murfreesboro, we got your back!” shouted one ARA member, as Lemley and the troop made their way down the street. His fellow antifa roared in response, “We got your back! We got your back!”

I’d interviewed Lemley a few days earlier over the phone. He was the local antifa front man, in part because he’d been organizing publicly in the Nashville area for months after white supremacists doxed him. We’d arranged to do a post-rally interview, this one on camera, and Lemley gave me the address of a safe house where I could pick him up to drive him to a HuffPost video team.

But when I’d arrived in my Ford Fusion Hybrid ― which, notably, allows a motorist to trade engine performance for efficiency with the push of an “EcoSelect” button ― I saw multiple police cruisers circling ominously through the quiet neighborhood. Vehicles with tinted windows idled at intersections. I would later learn that a drone had hovered over the safe house before the rally.

The GMC, though, was a more pressing concern. As soon as Lemley and another ARA member got into my car, the black pickup had appeared, right behind us, not even feigning subtlety after we doubled back on a side street.

“They’re definitely following us,” I said.

I stamped on the pedal of the Fusion and made a quick turn at a stop sign, then another one at a light. The GMC sped up and stayed on us. How was this possible? Murfreesboro was crawling with cops. Where were they now? And who was on our tail? This wasn’t Heimbach’s style.

I swung abruptly across traffic and pulled into a driveway across the street, leaving no way for the GMC to follow. The men in the pickup would have to make a move now. They drove past us and stopped. It looked like they were about to get out.

Lemley reached into a backpack at his feet.

“If they want it, they can get it,” he said.

He pulled out a .40 caliber Sig Sauer P226.

The gun chk-chkd as he chambered a round.

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COREY LEMLEY

Corey Lemley (in black beanie) of Nashville ARA defends a line of clergy during the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.

I’d been talking to antifa for months, hearing about the risks they took to fight fascism in America. Last April, somebody put a quarter stick of dynamite in Lemley’s mailbox and blew it to bits. In August, he’d been on the front lines in Charlottesville, part of an antifa defensive unit that fought off a battalion of League of the South racists who charged with weapons and shields at a group of clergy. (“Antifa saved my life twice,” said Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a local minister.)

 

The danger didn’t seem real until you experienced it. And the shock had less to do with the potential for bloodshed in America than the realization that organized political violence isn’t some distant, foreign problem. And that forces within our own country have stoked it.

Over the last year, far-right propagandists such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec have hyped antifa hysteria on social media, using the most garish images and examples of antifa dust-ups with racists and fascists to demonize the entirety of the left, as well as centrist liberals, the media and anyone who might challenge President Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda. Around the time I was in Murfreesboro, one of these operatives, Jeff Giesea, a Stanford University graduate and Peter Thiel associate who has, according to several of my sources, acted as a paymaster for far-right extremists online, tweeted that I, too, was antifa, then lied about it when I challenged him.

For conservatives, antifa are a convenient bogeyman, a faceless “commie” mob that allows the political right to engage in “both sides” rhetoric and distract from dangerous elements in the Republican base. There are reasons beyond gun sales that political organizations such as the National Rifle Association fearmonger about anti-fascists and invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros mailing them checks. These lies, which create an easy out-group to hate, have permeated the minds of many on the right.

But I’d spent long hours getting to know antifa, and although they tended to be ardent personalities, their motivation was simple: to combat fascism, racism, misogyny, intolerance and inequality. Their tactics could, at times, be worrisome, and their anarchist and anti-capitalist views occasionally prompted a few of them to break the window of a Starbucks. As a result, they were vilified as a threat to the system in a way that violent white supremacist and fascist organizations, which routinely commit acts of domestic terrorism, were not.

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JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

Lemley and I watched the pickup across the street, waiting to see if someone would emerge. After the Murfreesboro rally ended, I’d been approached by a strange young man ― frail, well-groomed and painfully awkward in the manner of an internet goblin. Based on the questions he asked me about antifa, I made him as an alt-right spotter from the other camp. His eyes warily tracked the ARA activists as they left the town square. The alt-right tried to keep tabs on antifa. But this kind of aggressive pursuit felt off for them. It felt military.

“They could be militia,” I said to Lemley, referring to the far-right Three Percenter groups that often show up at Nazi rallies and stand with their backs to the fascists and long guns pointed at anti-fascists, seemingly looking for an excuse to shoot.

I reversed the Fusion out of the driveway and sped away in the direction we’d come. The truck did a U-turn and barreled after us. What happened next is hazy, but I remember pulling up to a red light, the GMC two vehicles behind us, then cutting in front of an entire lane of traffic when the light changed to get to the on-ramp of a highway. The truck did the same maneuver in a far more dangerous fashion, forcing cars to veer out of its way.

I called the HuffPost video producer and asked for her team’s location. My plan was to screech to a halt in front of a running video camera, which would likely scare away our pursuers. The producer told me she was in a park, with police nearby. The park was five miles outside town.

As we lashed through traffic, I watched the truck try to keep up in my rear-view mirror. At one point, the GMC swerved across double yellow lines into oncoming traffic. Lemley’s cell phone had died, and I was driving with one hand and navigating Google maps on my phone with the other. Even worse, the Fusion’s EcoBoost button seemed stuck. I kept jabbing at it to get more speed, but failed to detect a horsepower upgrade.

Where were the cops?

I tried to shake the truck by turning off the highway briefly and cutting through a bank’s parking lot and back onto the highway. The truck roared after us, but I managed to weave through several cars and make another turn onto a side street. The GMC was gone. The driver must have missed us. We’d lost them.

And we hadn’t been the only ones followed. Lemley later learned that around six other trucks had tailed anti-fascist vehicles after the rally. It had been a coordinated operation. A member of Nashville ARA who goes by Julez described to me how trucks had circled the safe house late into the night.

“The people who do this work with us are not scared of these people,” Julez said. “But it’s unnerving to go into this space with a bunch of guys like that who just want to Bad wording kill people.” 

Julez told me he’d gotten a good look at one of the men in the trucks. He said the man had a patch on his shirt.

“It said Smyrna SWAT team,” Julez told me.

I struggled to process that information. Smyrna was a town a few miles north of Murfreesboro on the way to Nashville. And the Smyrna Police Department had indeed sent its SWAT team to Murfreesboro, according to Sgt. Bobby Gibson, the department’s SWAT team commander. But Gibson told me on Sunday that his officers had been staged away from the rally as a support unit and never left that location.

“We don’t even have a vehicle that matches that description,” Gibson said. “There was nobody from our police department following anybody.”

Gibson didn’t think it was implausible that militia members could have been chasing us. “There was a lot of activity from those groups prior to and after this event.”

Besides, he added, if law enforcement has a reason to stop you, they’re going to stop you. “And from what you described, you gave them grounds to stop you.”

So who were those bull-necked goons in the GMC? Fascists? A militia posse? And will they be back Sunday in Knoxville? It’s a shame to end on a mystery, but so it goes.

Wow, this piece of fiction had me on the edge of my seat!!!!!! Maybe they were FBI guys keeping tabs on a terrorist organization.

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