In response to the anti-police uprisings that gripped the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis cops, reactionary forces regrouped into newer forms and old groups resurfaced.
In Central Texas a group calling itself Wind Therapy Freedom Riders – WTFR’s, for short – emerged as a leading pro-cop reactionary movement. Led by scammer Luis “Hollywood” Rodriguez, the group dubiously claims a nationwide membership of 800 but is primarily notable for their close ties to police.
They opposed demonstrations demanding justice for Mike Ramos, an Austinite murdered by APD, and received grateful handshakes and bottled water from the cops. They drew unwanted attention and bad publicity to the cops by being photographed alongside APD officers and Proud Boys like Christopher Ritchie.
WTF also organized their own “Back The Blue” demonstration in support of Lakeway, TX police officers under the banner of “Silent No More” on August 15th, 2020.
In addition to Rodriguez, their leadership includes Mike “Cave Man” Scholl (who frequents Bud’s Motorcycle Shop in Del Valle) and Shawn “Gummy Bear” Hammond. Other members who have attended pro-cop, anti-homeless rallies are Patrick McCullough and Josue Besler.
WTFers gained further notoriety when they engaged in a dispute with former city councilman Jimmy Flannigan. Austin’s Mayor Adler characterized the incident as Rodriguez being “physically detained in a threatening manner”. While we should not adopt a credulous attitude to capitalist politicians when they claim victimhood, the incident is worthy of consideration: it reveals a mechanism for the Police Department to apply pressure to city government without acting directly and compromising their position.
Fascist and reactionary gangs acting as extra-legal assets for the State to do its dirty work with less oversight and scrutiny is a theme we will explore further.
Pigs on Wheels
Nationwide, and certainly in central Texas, police organize themselves into “biker gangs” as well. The “sentex” chapter of Sentinels Law Enforcement MC is small but active, and likely overlaps in attendance if not membership with WTFers.
Law enforcement motorcycle clubs have been known to associate with “outlaw” or “1%” groups, partly because the criminal organizations wish to use relationships with police to avoid arrest and partly because many cops wish to emulate the brutality and intimidation of their criminal counterparts.
Latino White Supremacists?
Much has already been written in the bourgeois press about how anti-black violence can legitimize and elevate previously marginalized ethnic groups, such as Irish and Italian-Americans, and how some Latinos (like George Zimmerman) may do the same. Moreover, society in Latin America is also defined by racial hierarchy and oppression of Black and indigenous people from Mexico and Colombia to Bolivia and Chile, and elements of what we call white supremacy can be clearly seen.
Nevertheless, we should not interpret these conflicts as exclusively racial, or solely about white supremacy. There is an obvious political aspect where groups like the Proud Boys (with leadership directed by FBI handlers) and WTFers are used by the state as an extralegal cudgel against the Left. While we should never believe for a second Proud Boys’ claims to not be racist, we should take seriously their self-description as “Western Chauvinists.”
Woke Imperialism, Woke Fascism
“Western Chauvinist” is just a flowery synonym for Imperialist. Their founding documents emphasize hatred of Muslims (even opportunistically “supporting” gay culture to “oppose” Islam) and love for Zionism, and much of their current rhetoric vilifies China to absurd degrees. Some pro-Trump rioters attacking the U.S. Capitol went on extended diatribes against Venezuela, and Enrique Tarrio comes from the right wing former-Cuban community. It is no coincidence that these FBI-directed gangs focus their rage against the prime targets of American Imperialism, like Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and China, serving to spread domestic enthusiasm for war.
Many Proud Boys and WTFRs may be white supremacists, but they are ALL something equally evil: American supremacists. They defend a world order where America, aided by the UK and EU, plunders and consumes the wealth generated by billions of toilers in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
The former ruling classes of China and their lackeys, much like reactionary ex-Cubans in Miami and the defeated monarchists who fled revolutionary Russia, are enthusiastic supporters of American imperialist regime-change schemes. One recent analysis revealed that pro-British Hong Kong protesters and right wing former Chinese donated nearly $100,000 in support of Proud Boys arrested at the Jan. 6th riots at the Capitol.
Fighting white supremacy is empty without fighting American supremacy, just as Antifascism is hollow and incomplete without anti-imperialism. As the newly “elected” managers of the bourgeois state shift away from the clumsy nationalism of Trump and seek to create the appearance of a “diverse”, “intersectional” Empire, their polo-clad lackeys on the ground will also engage in opportunistic identitarianism and increasingly parade minority leadership before the media.
Since Fascists are ultimately pawns of the ruling class, we must understand that the destruction of Fascist groups is inseparable from the destruction of imperialism, and that the Antifascist movement must also target military recruiting operations, politicians who promote war and sanctions, and corporations that steal resources from poor countries worldwide.