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Friday, May 24, 2024

UC Davis students organize community and mutual aid event “No Fash Fest”

The event is a direct counterprotest to the Proud Boys’ appearance on campus in recent months

 

By DANIELA DULA MEJIA — features@theaggie.org

 

Editor’s note: The names of two sources in this article have been changed or removed at their request to protect their safety and privacy. 

 

On Thursday, Feb. 16, a coalition of local groups gathered for the “No Fash Fest” event on the campus quad. One of the community attendees, who goes by the name DJ Odette on UC Davis’s radio station KDVS 90.3, said these groups were gathered “in solidarity with approaching anti-fascism together.” 

It was an enthusiastic event with free screen printing, a cookout-style potluck, energetic music and numerous free educational and mutual aid resources. 

Third-year international agricultural development major Gaia Bouyssou said No Fash Fest’s presence on campus is important because of a recent Turning Point USA event that ended in a violent altercation.

On Oct. 25 of last year, Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a national conservative political group, hosted an event in which they invited speaker Stephen Davis, also known as “MAGA Hulk,” to campus. The talk was canceled when protests outside turned violent after a group wearing Proud Boys attire allegedly pepper sprayed students. 

“The Proud Boys are an openly fascistic group who have been on our campus [before],” Bouyssou said. “Even without a direct connection to [the Proud Boys], the hate that is happening from these speakers and from TPUSA may not be overtly fascistic and may just be very right-wing and hateful, but it leads towards fascistic tendencies.”

The intention of “No Fash Fest” was to create space for UC Davis community members to come together and show the power of mutual aid support, according to Bouyssou. She said attendees also wanted to raise awareness about TPUSA’s upcoming speaker event. The Davis TPUSA chapter posted on its Instagram page that there will be another talk on campus on March 16 at 6 p.m. featuring the group’s founder and conservative radio show host Charlie Kirk. 

Both on- and off-campus groups showed support for No Fash Fest by participating in the event. Bouyssou was one of the tabling participants was the Davis chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops Local 143 (USAS). Other groups in attendance that day included UC Davis Cops off Campus, Decarcerate Sacramento, Sacramento Valley Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and numerous local artists. These groups came together because they wanted to help educate and empower students about the importance of creating an anti-fascist presence on campus, according to DJ Odette.

Bouyssou said she thinks students should care about events like these on campus in part because of speakers like Davis and Kirk, who she said: “deny systemic racism and have generally hateful views.”  

“[No Fash Fest] is a public demonstration and a form of counterprotest that is less physically dangerous,” Bouyssou said. “It allows for networking, connection, communication, visibility and also [is] a fun, beautiful, welcoming space that is an alternative to the […] things happening on the other end.”

At 11:45 a.m., before the event began, two people arrived with a camera and microphone. An event attendee who saw them arrive, but requested to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said that “they told students they were part of an independent podcast and began trying to interview students repeatedly despite lack of interest.” The source said that students consistently asked the two not to film them.

The attendee asked them to respect people’s space, to which the men allegedly started to yell, “Are you trying to take away our right to roam in any given area?” 

The attendee said that they felt that the men were “asking questions in bad faith […] The tone, you could tell, [was] disingenuous.”

“Eventually [they] changed their narrative and told the mic ‘This is how Antifa thinks of free speech, and this is all funded by George Soros,’” the anonymous source said.

The agitators allegedly left the scene after saying ‘so much for the tolerant left.’ The event eventually ended and no physical altercations occurred.

Bouyssou said that she doesn’t feel like conservative political views don’t have a lot of “traction” in Davis and not a lot of people seem interested in the campus’s TPUSA chapter, “but they exist, so this [event] is to show how popular, fun and welcoming the progressive and proud left-leaning side of campus is.” 

This will likely not be the last event thrown by this coalition of students. They expressed that so long as there continue to be ‘hateful opinions’ on campus, they will continue to work against those hateful forces at events like this one. 

“There is a really beautiful community of people who won’t stand for [fascism] at UC Davis,” Bouyssou said. 

Written by: Daniela Dula Mejia — features@theaggie.org