White Nationalist Groups Turn Up at 2018 Women’s Marches

About Cloee Cooper

Co-authored by Julia Taliesin

In the year of the #MeToo movement, Women’s Marches took place in every state on January 20 and 21, drawing crowds of a little over a thousand to half a million. But, from Knoxville, Tennesee to Seattle, Washington, Far Right and White nationalist groups demonstrated with anti-woman, anti-abortion and anti-feminist banners in response, bringing more visibility to misogynist elements of their ideology.

Matthew Heimbach, founder of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a group that advocates for a Whites-only nation-state, wrote a statement urging people to take to the streets in Knoxville, Tennessee for the 2018 Women’s March and celebrated the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville as a success. An estimated 20 people joined Heimbach, holding confederate and League of the South flags and anti-abortion banners, while an estimated 14,000 people marched through the streets, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

In the Pacific Northwest, neonazis targeted the marches, as well. Among the thousand people marching in Salem, OR, one person with a Nazi flag showed up to protest the Womxn’s March. They did not appear to be representing a specific organization. Fliers with “Make women property again” and featuring long quotes from Adolph Hitler were spotted in Seattle, WA prior to the march where thousands of people took to the streets.

At the Women’s March 2.0 in Providence, RI, anti-racist activists spotted four members of Vanguard America hanging a banner reading, “feminists deserve the rope” over an overpass, and then tried to display the banner on the south lawn of the state house, only to be removed quickly by Women’s March participants.

Vanguard America banner removed from State House lawn by Women’s March 2.0 participants in Providence, RI

TWP, League of the South, and Vanguard America are member organizations of the Nationalist Front, a collective of Far Right and neonazi organizations that led the most violent charge in Charlottesville and have gained visibility since the election of President Donald Trump, with revived goals of organizing on college campuses and in public spaces.

As Alex DiBranco noted in the Public Eye, the rhetoric of Trump’s presidential campaign “energized members of a secular misogynist Right…centered on overt hostility to women and the promulgation of rape culture.” This surge in overt misogyny thrives alongside (and presents a gateway to) White nationalism.

Other neonazi groups have recently made public appearances over their stand against women’s rights to bodily autonomy. The Far Right neonazi group, the Patriot Front, an offshoot of Vanguard America, rallied at the anti-abortion March for Life on Jan. 14 in Chicago. Protesters held American flags and a large banner with “Protect our Posterity, BloodandSoil.com” on it.  “Blood and Soil” is an infamous Nazi slogan that was used during the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and refers to the belief that white Aryan people have a hereditary right to land.

Even March for Life organizers didn’t want the vitriol of the Patriot Front associated with their cause. Eric Scheidler, a career anti-abortion activist with the Pro Life Action League, one of the organizers of the March for Life, wrote that the Patriot Front was not welcome at their march, saying that he asked the police to remove them from the area designated for the march to across the street.

Emboldened White nationalist groups with histories of violence continue to turn out at public demonstrations to promote their platform but at the Women’s Marches they were far outnumbered at every location.

Cloee Cooper (PRA Research Analyst) holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. Cloee tracked, monitored and organized against anti-immigrant organizations with ties to white nationalism with the Center for New Community from 2009-2012. Her work can be seen at Chicago’s local PBS affiliate – WTTW, Alternet, Social Justice News Nexus, Imagine2050, Hard Crackers and in a Chicago Tribune investigation. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Hard Crackers, a journal documenting the everyday life of those striving to overturn the mess we are in.