Prominent far-right figures and fascist groups are planning to come to Philadelphia on November 17, when local right-wing organizers, including those affiliated with white supremacist groups, are expected to congregate at a “We The People” rally in the city’s historic district.
Many Philadelphians aren’t welcoming these organizations. Local leftists this week urged their neighbors to call Mayor Jim Kenney and an official who approves permits for Independence National Historical Park, to suspend the permit for Saturday’s rally. Philadelphia International Action Center and Workers World Party have collected more than 300 signatures on a petition to cancel the permit for the hate rally.
The rally is slated for Independence Hall, steps away from the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Social media posts circulated by an anti-fascist group called PushBack Campaign claimed the rally was tied to the Proud Boys—a fascist organization recently banned from Facebook—and right-wing Three Percent militia movement.
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Zach Rehl of the group known as Sports, Beer, and Politics, which is organizing the November 17 event, claimed “it’s not a rally for Proud Boys” in an October Philly.com interview. “We’re not interested in having any racist groups there, and if we find them, we’re going to remove them from the event,” he said.
Not only is Rehl’s organization behind a Blue Lives Matter march last August—a reactionary movement founded as opposition to Black Lives Matter—but his organization’s politics enable further right white supremacist organizations. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rehl is known for organizing rallies in support of President Donald Trump that have attracted alt-right figures, including a June 2017 “March for Trump” event where activists sported “alt-right” imagery such as “Kekistan flags.” Rehl has been photographed with the Philadelphia chapter of the hate group Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK).
The initial Philly.com story failed to mention Rehl is the son and grandson of Philadelphia police officers, and did not mention the white woman behind the scenes, Holly Delcampo, and other white supremacist organizations anticipated to show up at the Philadelphia hate rally.
Meanwhile, the Philly Voice reports the rally “is for all Patriots, Militia, 3%, constitution loving Americans, pro good cop, pro ICE, pro law and order, pro life, pro American value, pro gun and anti illegal immigration,” according to posts on the event page.
As of November 8, the public Facebook page only displays posts since October 16, while Rewire.News obtained screenshots of posts published prior to the date.
This comes after two weekend brawls between Proud Boys and their anti-fascist opponents. Several members of the Proud Boys on October 12 were kicked out of a Manhattan club where Proud Boys leader Gavin McInnes had delivered a speech at an event that referenced the assassination of a Japanese Socialist Party leader with a samurai word by a Japanese ultranationalist. On October 13, Buzzfeed reported members of the far-right organization “Patriot Prayer” clashed with anti-fascist counter protesters in Portland, Oregon. Another clash involving the Proud Boys was sparked by a “Flash March for Law and Order” in Portland, according to the Washington Post.
Delcampo has been involved with other right-wing and pro-gun demonstrations inside and outside Philadelphia and also has ties to the Three Percent movement. According to Political Research Associates, the Three Percenters are a “Patriot movement paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership.” The movement has a loosely defined membership and decentralized organizational structure. Anyone can call themselves a Three Percenter; there are “official” organizations, which are underground but are more respected in right-wing organizing circles.
Delcampo has been mediating communication around the upcoming Philadelphia event not just for locals, but for those inquiring about traveling from out of the state, including “alt-right” figure and Proud Boy Alan Swinney, who used Patreon contributions to fund his travel.
On November 7, Bob Gaus—a co-founding member of the Neo-Nazi group Keystone United, exposed by Philly Antifa—inquired on the event page: “Is there a meeting point for this rally? If so please [private message] for the details. Looking to have a good group coming with.”
Police have identified Keystone United as the perpetrators behind the racially-motivated attack on a Black customer at a Pittsburgh bar this summer, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
The PushBack campaign hopes to deny a platform to any groups associated with the rally, whether they call themselves fascists or not.
“When fascists have a platform, what can potentially happen is that they have a potential audience,” a source who requested anonymity for security reasons told Rewire.News in a phone interview. “With these small rallies, it seems like their biggest goal—other than optics, physically being there—is to try to recruit new numbers. With numbers, you can start to act on certain things.”
Since gun ownership is a major component of the Three Percent movement, hate can potentially manifest into gun violence against the very people these militia people want kept out of the United States. The Philadelphia Police Department never responded to Rewire.News’ press inquiry.
“You have some militia groups right now heading down to the southwest border, where a large group of people who are seeking asylum are heading towards the United States,” the anonymous source said. “If [Delcampo] was able to get numbers via recruitment, via having a platform at a rally, what’s that mean in the future?”
Those opposed to the upcoming far-right rally said it’s alarming that hate group leaders are openly organizing, bringing together people unified by hatred of immigrants, people of color, and women.
“These people [like Rehl and Delcampo] were not hiding but not in the spotlight but now that there is this rally, they should put in the spotlight for this,” another source who requested anonymity—an organizer—told Rewire.News. “Their actions should be publicized. The goal that we should all strive for is to prevent them from doing these things in first place, therefore no one has to get hurt.”