Chicago shuts down racist, Islamophobic protest

In tandem with counter-protests across the country, hundreds of everyday people took to downtown Chicago on June 10 to shut down the racist, xenophobic “March against Sharia” organized by ACT for America, a national anti-Muslim hate group.

On June 10, the people won: the resistance prevented the racist assembly, which included people carrying fascist signs and making Nazi salutes, from marching in the streets of Chicago. The racists were unable to protest on their planned gathering spot and were made to retreat under police escort.

The anti-racist counter-protest drew Chicagoans of all backgrounds, and was organized by a number of groups including ANSWER Chicago, People United Against Oppression–a Muslim-led social justice group, Chicago Teamsters Against Chump, Refuse Fascism and International Socialist Organization.

Anti-Muslim demonstrators arrived at the corner of Wacker and Wabash to a powerful, militant rally that actively rejected the hateful agenda of ACT for America. Having set up an hour before, progressive protesters greeted the bigots with drum-led chants and signs resisting the far-right fear-mongering. Counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the bigoted marchers from the very beginning of the day–a trend that would only accelerate as the day went on.

In addition to the banners and bullhorns, a powerful rejection of ACT for America’s hateful “march” ultimately came through an organized mobilization against hate that drew a diverse, lively crowd. People from across the city actively rejected the pseudo-feminist politics espoused by the anti-Muslim marchers. Black and Brown Chicagoans came out in solidarity to reject the protester’s thinly-veiled racism.

Anando Naqui, a Chicago resident who came out to join the protest, channeled these sentiments: “Racism, bigotry and hate have no place in Chicago and no place in the United States.”

Carlos Zapata II, an activist drawn to progressive politics by the protests against the police killing of unarmed black teenager Laquan McDonald two years ago, echoed these sentiments. “[Protests like these] send a positive message: do not back down from racists, do not back down from white supremacy, do not back down from fascists.”

With Chicago’s Trump Tower just across the river, counter-protesters understood the day’s events as part of a wider fight against the viciously anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agenda that now occupies the White House. Another local at the march, Bill Little, understood this, saying that “We not only need to hold individuals accountable, we need to hold the government accountable.”

Despite the racist’s provocations and a heavy police presence, anti-racists successfully shut down the bigots, forcing them to leave with a police escort two hours before their “march” was planned to end. The overwhelming solidarity with Muslims, immigrants, and all communities under attack by organized racism was a powerful reminder that only an organized resistance can defeat the increasing attacks on workers and oppressed people.