“We are certainly preparing ourselves and making sure that we have adequate resources to ensure that those who are there to protest legally and lawfully that they have the opportunity to do so without being disrupted by those who have alternative motives,” Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Horace Frank told City News Service.
The downtown L.A. rally is one of several taking place in 19 cities across the U.S. that are being organized by Refuse Fascism. Officials with the group say it has received threats of violence from alt-right, conservative and white supremacist groups ahead of the rallies. The campaign has gained the attention of far-right personalities like Alex Jones. The internet talk show host behind InfoWars is encouraging supporters to show up to these so-called “Antifa” protests, which his site describes as an “attempt to launch a civil war.”
Frank said the LAPD expects counter-protesters at the demonstration, but it’s unclear how many will show up.
“Those are lies, we’re not calling for civil war,” march organizer Michelle Xia told CBS2 News, adding that their supporters intend to have a peaceful protest.
The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday amended an existing ordinance and created the list of banned items — including shields, torches, rods, mace, glass bottles and baseball bats — in an attempt to avoid similar violence.
“We will be operating off of this particular ordinance, which is a very good thing,” Frank said. “It’s an important tool that the City Council has given us as law enforcement, and we are very happy about that.”
While both groups attempt to paint the other as the aggressors, the Refuse Fascism protesters are not linked to Antifa, says Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California.
“This situation really shows the dangers of fake news,” says Armour, who has been following the “ANTI-FAscist” movement. “The concern is where others come in and hijack your agenda.”
Armour says the alt-right is spinning the Refuse Fascism demonstrations into a violent group they are not.
The Anti-Defamation League says Alex Jones has tried to profit from the rallies by hawking an anti-communist and anti-fascist shirt.
Alex Jones made a trailer/commemorative t-shirt for the famed "antifa super solider" protest tomorrow and it's a disjointed comedic disaster pic.twitter.com/4pSdWTj5kT