Ahead of San Francisco’s Refuse Fascism rally on July 15, which will be one of many national demonstrations held throughout multiple cities across the country, El Tecolote sat down with Refuse Fascism’s National Organizer Raphael Kadaris. Refuse Fascism focuses on several issues that affect marginalized groups such as Muslims, women, LGBTQ, Blacks, Latinos, children and the elderly. The primary aim of the demonstration is to drive out the Trump/Pence Regime.
El Teco: What was the trigger point for you to stand up and do something when it came to Trump?
Kadaris: I’m someone who actually studied the history of Nazi Germany and you can see the parallels. Not with the Holocaust per se, but with everything that lead up to it. It [The Holocaust] started in 1942, but Hitler came to power 10 years earlier in 1932 and started changing the laws, demonizing and dehumanizing different types of people. It’s setting in motion a momentum that can lead down to that road. The point is, we have to stop it before it gets to that point. We have to stop it now. There’s a lot of people hoping that Democrats somehow intervene or one of these investigations. The idea we that we can rely on people in the FBI or Democratic party is a dangerous illusion. The 15th is about people needing to stop being spectators to this drama and come out to the streets and push this regime out.
El Teco: What are you hoping to achieve with this demonstration?
Kadaris: People actually have to manifest out in the real world. Protesting, being out in the streets in public can’t be ignored. Some people are beginning to talk about impeachment. Just last week we had an impeachment March in San Francisco. All of that is good but if Trump is impeached then you still have Mike Pence and the regime. And the whole regime is fascist and they all need to go. People need to see that there is movement. It’s gotta be something that snowballs so it can be something that we drive this regime out. We can’t predict exactly how this regime will be taken out but like in South Korea four months ago, millions of people took to the streets and forced the president out of office through mass resistance. Through that resistance, you create a legitimacy crisis where the regime finds a mechanism to get rid of them. If there’s not mass uprising from the people then it’s not gonna go anywhere.
El Teco: As an organizer what would you say is the biggest struggles to rallying people?
Kadaris: There is mass sentiment, and we need to turn that in mass sentiment into mass resistance, and that doesn’t happen automatically. Some people don’t understand how change happens. Every change for the better, people had to fight for it, struggle and resist. There’s a lot of relying on the system to somehow be a check and a system. People are hoping those work. And we saw that in Nazi Germany, for example, how they had a fascist leader who step by step dismantled those checks and balances. People criticised it, but ultimately went along with it.
El Teco: Is the media doing an adequate job reporting what’s happening right now?
Kadaris: The media is criticizing him [President Trump] within a certain framework. For example, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, just banned video cameras from the White House press conferences and all the media went along with it when they should’ve resisted and turned on the video cameras. If you don’t like it then you’re gonna have to kick us out.
El Teco: Have you always been into politics?
Kadaris: I’ve always been a rebel and I’ve always wanted justice and equality in the world. I got involved with Revolution books and revolution club around 2005. What pushed me over the edge was when hurricane Katrina happened, and just seeing how our government let those African-American people die—left them without food and water for five days. It was such a concentration of everything ugly in this country and the system. The racism that is at the core and the capitalism, the protection of the property over people’s lives. They also sent the federal troops with orders to shoot and kill “looters.” Who were those looters? They were people who were trying to survive. That’s America and I said, “I have to do something.”
El Teco: Would you say anyone could be an organizer? It seems like you’re a natural.
Kadaris: I wouldn’t say someone is naturally born but I think you learn and see things. Every kid sees injustice and inequality. Most kids growing up, for example, play with kids of every race and different social economic backgrounds, and it doesn’t matter. But then they learn racism and learn xenophobia. Some people like myself rebel against that. All it takes is a basic sense of morality and understanding of appreciating other people. You have to look at other people who were told they were less than human and then you have to look at the world for what it really is. A lot of people back away from the truth of that is happening and what needs to be done because it makes them uncomfortable. The most important thing is to learn about what is causing that injustice and connect the dots from one thing to another and learn about what is at the root of this all. Act on it and don’t’ back down from acting on what you know if it moves you from your comfort zone.
The Refuse Fascism march on July 15 starts at 2 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza and will march towards Justin Herman Plaza.