In the past few days, as activists have protested in Berkeley, Revolution Books has become the focus of right-wing wrath.
On Sunday, a few hours after Milo Yiannopoulos’s brief and content-free appearance on Sproul Plaza, a group of about 40 to 50 people swarmed into the breezeway in front the store, located in the Telegraph-Channing Mall. They shouted “USA,” and when they couldn’t get into the store because staff locked the doors, they pounded on the windows.
“It was like a mob,” said Reiko Redmonde, the store manager, at a press conference Tuesday night. “It was like you see in the movies, like the KKK, but without the sheets.”
Smaller groups have come back to the store at least three other times on Sunday and Monday, she said. Sometimes they mass into the store and ask for specific titles, such as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos, or The Essential Mario Savio, a book of his writing and speeches, she said. On a few occasions, the volunteer workers at the bookstore have been joined by the animal rights activists from Direct Action Everywhere, also located in the mall, to block those trying to get into the store.
Many of the staff at Revolution Books are members of the group Refuse Fascism. They have demonstrated at many recent Berkeley rallies as well.
After Milo’s fascist “free speech” day, a mob of Brownshirts – er, Redhats – assaulted @RevolutionBksB. Visit the store Monday, show support pic.twitter.com/PzWG4qp1js
— Refuse Fascism (@RefuseFascism) September 25, 2017
One of those who came with the large group on Sunday was Antonio (Tony) Foreman, whose red beard makes him easily recognizable. Foreman, who was also spotted among the crowd rooting for Yiannopoulos, is a member of the Oathkeepers, a radical anti-government group made up of ex-military men, and a close friend of right-wingers Kyle Chapman, aka “Based Stickman,” and Tim Gionet, aka “Baked Alaska.” Foreman, who lives in southern California, was stabbed nine times in a fight in Santa Monica in June. He also acts as a bodyguard for Gionet and attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
Antonio “Tony” Foreman is one of my best friends, he’s a fellow Trump supporter & an Oathkeeper. Stabbed 9 times & needs prayer. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/uDGojfTmgQ
— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) June 20, 2017
Revolution Books sells general interest novels and non-fiction titles but has a special emphasis on books that discuss fascism and communism. The store is aligned with the re-envisioned communism developed by Bob Avakian and has an entire section devoted to his works and theories. Avakian grew up in Berkeley championing a new synthesis of old and new communism while placing particular importance on the need for internationalism in revolutionary thought. He will be speaking in Berkeley in April.
It is precisely this focus on exposing President Trump’s fascistic leanings and the rise in power of the right since his election that prompted the attack, said Redmonde.
“We have attracted their ire for a reason,” she said. “We have been outspoken about the parade of fascists slated to come to UC Berkeley. Revolution Books is activist and revolutionary and we have all these books in the window about everything they hate. …Plus it’s a bookstore. It’s about reading and thinking.”
City Councilman Kriss Worthington, whose district included the bookstore, said he has asked the police to keep an eye out on the group coming to the store.
“They are clearly not coming to buy books,” he said. “It appears to be intimidation and harassment. I am glad that nobody seems to be getting beat up, but it is worrisome when so many people show up and try to scare them.”
Sunsara Taylor, a New York-based member of Refuse Fascism, also criticized the swarm of people in front of the store. Taylor, who came to Berkeley to protest against Ben Shapiro and Yiannopoulos and who recently stormed a UC Berkeley press conference and shouted down Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman, said the protest reflects the cover Trump gives to fascists.
“This is not happening in a vacuum,” said Taylor. “This is happening at a time there is an open white supremacist in the White House.”
This article has been corrected to say Antonio Foreman lives in southern California, not Berkeley.