An annual 2nd Amendment rally in Richmond, Va. scheduled for this Monday will see gun rights activists marching alonside an unusual ally: the local Antifa chapter.
While Antifa groups are most famous for sometimes-violent protests against right-wing groups, the Richmond-based Antifa Seven Hills is joining 2nd Amendment supporters in support of gun rights.
“I think it’s been pretty important for us to focus on the fact that gun control in America has a legacy of racist enforcement,” Seven Hills spokesperson James told Vice, requesting that his last name be withheld from publication. “Like taking guns away from black people, because black people were perceived as a threat to property and the sanctity of the state.”
Several leftist gun rights groups have formed in response to the election of President Trump. This includes Redneck Revolt, which was established in 2016, and the Socialist Rifle Association, which was formed in 2018 and has chapters in all 50 states.
“I think what’s particular about the South is that we have to be a bit more creative and sensitive to the people around us — instead of fulfilling some sort of meme of what antifa is,” James said. “That’s really what we’re trying to work against right now, especially by talking to conservatives and showing we aren’t just a black-clad group of rabble-rousers who are out for attention and have jobs funded by George Soros.”
“The presence of an armed left is not discussed, it’s not understood,” he added.
The rally itself became the subject of controversy after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency citing “credible intelligence” of “groups with malicious plans” to appear at the rally. The FBI on Thursday arrested three suspected neo-Nazis who were planning to attend the rally. One of the men is a former Canadian army reservist, and all were linked to a group called The Base that aims to establish a state populated only by whites.
“No one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville,” Northam told reporters. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.