Opportunists are like weeds. They grow when allowed, or when neglect and upkeep slips. And like weeds, they will break through the cracks, and it is our job to make sure they do not terrorize our communities.
Regarding the recent attack at Maktoob hookah Lounge in so-called “Flagstaff, Arizona” -information came to us regarding motivations and possible culprits- in the form of a dispute with a landlord. Lets be clear here- racist imagery, vandalism, and hate speech were displayed. Personal belongings were systematically destroyed and a fire was intentionally set as to do as much targeted damage as possible (if it were not for the quick response of neighbors, the fire could have possibly engulfed the entire space). Those responsible for this had access and motive. No one can deny that the use of fascist symbols and language were intended to strike fear and terror. This puts on display the dichotomy of impact versus intent. Was this intent to get the owner to move out due to a personal dispute? To us, it doesn’t matter. The intent, if this is indeed perpetrated by the bourgeois owners of a building, named after land-grabbing settlers, is to get the owner to move- the impact – spreading distrust, fear, suffering, and emotional damage to those most vulnerable, to those that on a daily basis are subject to the microaggressions, and racist bias- the impact is certainly felt.
We must also report that before and after this incident some in our ranks have directly experienced an escalation in localized white supremacist threats, online and in our neighborhoods. We have also heard reports from others who have experienced the same. When we minimalize the attack on Maktoob to that of “petty vandalism by stupid kids” or pass it off as less than a hate crime we begin to normalize white supremacist violence under the facade of an isolated incident. This attack was no isolated event. It is in fact intrinsically tied to the sprouting of white supremacist terrorist groups in Flagstaff, to the comfortability of white supremacists to violently engage with community members on local public forums, as well as the ongoing harassment and abuse that indigenous folx experience downtown. We must recall that “our little mountain town” was built on the exploitation of indigenous, black, latinx, and asian peoples and all done so on violently stolen land. Fascism is no stranger to Flagstaff and it’s about time we address it. If we are not disturbed and outraged by this type of violence then we become an agent in enforcing it. There is no neutrality in the face of fascism.
So when we speak out against fascism, against terrorism, we speak in support of our community members, for each other, to symbolically and literally demonstrate that these are OUR streets, paved on stolen Native Land, and we will not cower in fear, in fact we will rise to the occasion, tighten our training regimens, reinforce our bonds, and rely on one another when any attack is perpetrated on our community. There is and will be no space for these terrorists, be they so-called “proud boys” – the KKK, white supremacists, or opportunist capitalist landlords- they wave the flag of fascism (even as putrid concealment), we raise our fists- no safe spaces for fascists!