By Peter Cherry
In response to fascist organization Patriot Front putting up stickers and other propaganda promoting themselves and in solidarity with the protests in Kenosha, activists organized a clean-up and education event in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia. The action was lead by the Wheeling Revolutionary Study Group, which has been organizing night patrols to counter agitate and remove fascist propaganda.
Patriot Front and “Patriots of Appalachia” (POA) have used patriotic imagery and appeals to a sense of rustic, rural homeland to make their fascist ideology appealing to people in West Virginia. Patriot Front was started by Thomas Rousseau as a splinter group that succeeded Vanguard America after the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally resulted in one of their members murdering Heather Heyer. POA is believed to be started by James Ryan, a resident of Jefferson County. Patriot Front and POA posters and stickers have appeared not only in Wheeling, but in Huntington, Morgantown, and Charleston.
These fascist groups hope to incorporate the white working class into their mission to institute fascism by exploiting the mass unemployment and opiate crisis of the region, using the pain of economic hardship and drug addiction to push their reactionary vision for the future.
As the Wheeling Revolutionary Study Group rally started, stickers and flyers were removed from telephone polls and garbage cans. One speaker pointed to the presence of a memorial for Senator Robert Byrd, a Democratic Party Senator to West Virginia and member of the Ku Klux Klan, as evidence of the collaborating stance the government takes to the fascist menace. Another outlined fascism as the most reactionary sections of the ruling class tossing away any pretense of democracy to unleash terror, outlining how in a small rustbelt city like Wheeling, its allure to the unemployed white worker and small business owner presents itself as a false alternative. Speakers also expressed the need for armed self defense against fascists, referencing the recent double murder in Kenosha at the hands of a fascist militia member.
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