REDNECKS WITH GUNS AND OTHER ANTI-RACIST STRATEGIES
Originally posted March 27, 2011 at The Defenestrator. This article also appears on LibCom and the Hampton Institute, as well as in a condensed version on Medium.
Following the election of Obama, many folks involved with a spectrum of different anti-racist work were left dumbfounded by the rise of the aggressive and often explicitly racist white Tea Party movement. Though the Tea Party Movement had been funded in the millions, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Fox News and was being manipulated by powerful forces on the right, it was also clear that the right was comfortably engaging with a sector of the North American working class largely abandoned by the broader left. In the throes of economic crisis many formerly enfranchised whites were looking at serious setbacks. In response the left for the most part smugly responded by dismissing the crazy tea baggers while white supremacists and conservatives moved into largely uncontested territory. In looking for exceptions, I decided to check out the John Brown Gun Club, a group of white working class anarchists who before the emergence of the Tea Party movement, had been sowing class struggle and anti-racist solidarity amongst mostly white gun enthusiasts in Kansas. Here Dave Onion interviews long time anti-racist gun slinger Dave Strano.
You were part of the John Brown Gun Club in Kansas and now are involved with Redneck Revolt in Denver. What are these groups are about? What sort of folks were involved and are you coming from politically?
Dave Strano: The John Brown Gun Club was a working group of Kansas Mutual Aid, an anarchist collective active in Northeast Kansas from 2002 until early 2009. Kansas Mutual Aid focused on a variety of organizing initiatives and social programs including free food distributions, support for political prisoners and prisoners of war, Copwatch and legal support, anti-military recruitment, and firearms and self defense trainings.
The John Brown Gun Club focused on two main program points. We worked to provide skillshares and trainings in the tactical use of firearms within the radical community and also to distribute free anti-racist literature at gun shows in Kansas and Missouri. We managed to table at over 30 different gun shows in a three year period, and distribute hundreds of copies of anti-racist and anti-Minutemen literature during that time period. We even managed to make some close allies with several other gun show vendors, one of which quit the Minutemen. That connection would later prove very advantageous after my move to Denver, as that vendor helped provide some of the first tabling space for the Redneck Revolt project at gun shows in this area.