As the alt-right becomes emboldened under Donald Trump’s presidency, one leftist group is not only bearing arms but training its growing membership to use them.
It’s called Redneck Revolt, and they have a meeting in Durham on Sunday.
“We’re hosting a community event to discuss our participation in counter protests in Charlottesville, what armed community defense can look like and resistance to racism in NC,” states the Facebook event for the 1 p.m. meeting at Motorco on Rigsbee Avenue. “Armed self defense is necessary for the survival and relevance of our future organizing in the face of a growing insurgent fascism.”
Child care will be provided.
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The group has grown from a handful to about 40 branches across the U.S., including three in North Carolina, according to its website.
Redneck Revolt’s Silver Valley branch, which includes Durham-based members, is holding the meeting in Durham. Members declined to say how many members they have.
Community defense is one of the tactics Redneck Revolt uses to fight racism.
“It’s not about seizing the gun culture or becoming obsessed about guns,” said member Dwayne Dixon, 45, a UNC-Chapel Hill anthropology lecturer. “It’s only recognizing it’s useful to know how to field strip and clean a rifle as much as it is to know how to fix wiring in your house and use a circular saw.”
The group isn’t about threatening others, but about defending themselves in a charged environment in which they feel law enforcement hasn’t and won’t protect them, Dixon and others said.
The movement centers on building a self-sustaining community that recognizes working whites, blacks, and other people of color have more in common with each other than with the super-rich responsible for income stagnation and other economic harm on their daily lives, said Dixon of Durham.
Dixon was recently charged with two misdemeanors after be brought a semi-automatic rifle to downtown Durham on Aug. 18 amid rumors of a white supremest rally that never materialized. Dixon declined to comment on that incident at this time.
Redneck Revolt is also exploring how to address food shortages and health care challenges, Dixon said.
Still, not everyone thinks citizens arming themselves is the answer.
“I believe self-defense is the right of all citizens, but we cannot ignore the inherent danger that comes with untrained individuals operating as a self-appointed security force in our streets,” Sheriff Mike Andrews wrote in a statement. “This is why there has to be ground rules, an orderly process for demonstrations in our community before someone gets hurt. The climate in our country leaves us with no other choice than to face this issue head on.”
Armed members of Redneck Revolt provided security for counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia when white supremacists and nationalists marched against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in a local park. They also provided security for counterprotesters at an anti-Sharia rally in Raleigh in June, and organized a counterprotest to a planned Ku Klux Klan cross-burning at a private farm in the Asheboro area in May.
Redneck Revolt started as the John Brown Gun Club, a community defense organization in Lawrence, Kansas, around 2004. It was part of a larger anarchist cooperative group known as Kansas Mutual Aid, according to Redneck Revolt podcast.
The project went through a sort of hiatus, but around June 2016 reemerged as both the John Brown Gun Club and Redneck Revolt.
Eladio Bobadilla joined in the spring in response to what he described as hopelessness and and fear in the immigrant community.
Bobadilla, 31, a Mexican-born American and a Duke University doctoral student, said the group felt different because they were taking action.
“One of the main reasons I joined is (that) this group is directly confronting the terrors of the alt-right and is just a group of people who are willing and able to defend the most vulnerable,” he said. “And that really mattered to me.”