Reportback From The Field: PDL-SL Engages In Field Training Exercise

“Let it be known that we have measured the scope of our actions and that we consider ourselves no more than a part of the great army of the proletariat.”
-Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental

Recently, a small portion of the membership of People’s Defense League- South Louisiana, completed a Field Training Exercise (FTX) at an undisclosed location somewhere in the Southeastern US. Spending several days in the wilderness, members of PDL-SL practiced communal living, military discipline, bushcraft, and dynamic shooting drills as well as shooting fundamentals. Practicing skills that are usually only available to members of fascistic or imperialist formations, such as the pigs and the US military, we seek to erode the monopoly on violence held by the ruling classes. In absorbing these bodies of knowledge into ourselves, we endeavor to disperse it into the communities of working and poor people in which we live. 

In the course of our FTX, we grew in comradeship, through communal living, eating, sleeping, keeping watch, and training, as we honed our skills that we believe are necessary for the defense of our communities, and for the advancement of the interests of the proletariat. We understand that as workers, we are caught in the midst of a class war being waged upon us by the ruling classes: the bourgeoisie and their lackeys, the pigs, the intelligence agencies, and the imperialist US military. PDL-SL members believe that armed workers are the only bulwark against fascist capitalist violence that is on the rise in the United States. Fascist violence and capitalistic pillaging will only increase to fever pitch in the coming years because of decaying neoliberalism and climate chaos. We see this now across the global south, in places like Bolivia and Chile. Workers, marginalized and poor people here are not exempt from these threats, simply by living in the imperial core, in fact, simply look around, class violence is all around us, particularly in so called New Orleans, a city whose commons were gutted by disaster capitalism. 

If we look to the experiences of nations such as Cuba, China, the former Soviet Union, and in our own time at the community defense formations of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, we see that fascistic imperialist violence, perpetuated by capitalists to fragment the working classes, is ONLY countered effectively by a populace of proletarians and lumpenproletarians who can successfully defend themselves with arms. Ironically, in the US, one of the most heavily armed societies on earth, the left of the United States has been, since the days of the New Left, a disarmed population; either willfully scorning the use and training of arms in the name of nonviolent direct action, choosing to outsource violence to the pigs, or, forcibly disarmed, as is often the case of revolutionary people of color in this nation. Instead, arms have been concentrated not only in the hands of imperialist/fascist state agencies, but in the hands of reactionary paramilitary formations of the civilian population, particularly those with white supremacist agendas.

PDL-SL cadre practice rifle fundamentals and buddy team movement drills under simulated strain.

 To counter this massive, imbalancing contradiction, PDL-SL seeks to build its membership into knowledgeable, hardened, disciplined cadre, skilled in theory and application of military tactics embedded within a left-wing theoretical framework, of warfighter skills for the people, not in service of capital and white supremacy. With this reinforcement of tactical community defense skills within its cadre, the PDL-SL will diffuse its knowledge into the hands of working people, as we already have begun doing, through our Firearms 101 courses, self-defense classes, and community range days, to build a confident, armed, and class-conscious base of working people, here in the deep south of the imperial core. 

A small portion of the PDL-SL membership engaged in the November FTX.

Community Defense in Stone Mountain, GA

February 2, 2019 there was a proposed neo-confederate rally at the town of Stone Mountain, Georgia and the confederate memorial there. A joint task force of People’s Defense League (then New Orleans John Brown Gun Club) Tampa and Orlando John Brown Gun Club (now Sawgrass Community Defense group – Tampa Bay and Sawgrass Community Defense Group – Orlando), Phelps County John Brown Gun Club (now Phelps Co Community Defense Gun Club), Springfield John Brown Gun Club (now Greater Ozarks Mutual Aid Collective) Savannah General Defense Committee and members from North Georgia Socialist Rifle Association provided armed protection for a coalition of leftist and progressive protest groups called the FLOWER Coalition who mobilized to oppose the racist neo-confederate rally.

The action was largely uneventful because the racist neo-confederates did not show up to their own rally that day, so with no one to counter-protest against the FLOWER Coalition decided to do a peaceful victory march through out the town of Stone Mountain and our security teams provided armed escort looking out for any would be “mass shooters” or vehicle attackers.

The police presence had a largely hands-off approach, only intervening to extinguish an effigy of a Ku Klux Klan member one of the protesters set on fire.

After the action our teams went our separate ways and had a safe trip back home.

Community Defense in Newnan, GA

We got a whole army behind us!

— Ashanti group member

April 21 of 2018 People’s Defense League members (then New Orleans John Brown Gun Club) did a community defense operation in the town of Newnan, Georgia with a joint task force of members from (then) Chattanooga Redneck Revolt, Tampa John Brown Gun Club, Orlando John Brown Gun Club (all Florida RR/JBGC chapters have since reformed into a statewide org called Sawgrass Community Defense Group), for the purpose of protecting the community and leftist activists from Ku Klux Klan members and other Neo-Nazi elements who came to the small southern town to hold an armed rally in a park.

The morning of the action all teams rallied up in a vacant parking lot that we used as a “base of operations” for planning and switching out fireteams who patrolled the town as well as serving as an aid station for anti-fascist activists who passed by which we offered bottled water and snacks or medical care if needed. The police had a huge militarized check point around the park where the fascists were having their rally so activists who chose to enter the pre-determined protest area where subject to frisking or in our case as open carriers, disarming. So to stay within the law and also not disarm ourselves we were forced to stay outside the police cordon and opted to patrol the back streets and show a presence and counter power to the fascists and provide defense in the event of altercations with fascists outside the cordon.

Later in the day a large bloc of black student activists who referred to themselves as the “Ashanti Group” (pictured) marched down the street by our base/aid station and we greeted them with raised fists, they later came back to visit us and take pictures, many of them thanked us for our service to the community and coming from so far away to be there. Many of the townspeople we came across were happy to see us there and welcomed us with open arms.

There was some arrests and violence on behalf of the cops on the unarmed leftist protesters that day but the hundreds of anti-fascist protesters vastly outnumbered the handful of 15 or so neo-nazis and klansmen that showed up to the rally, and major violence was avoided when the state as well as the counter protesters were expecting violence on the level of the Battle of Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 where fascist James Fields killed anti-fascist Heather Heyer in cold blood and mortally injured many others with a vehicle attack.

At the end of the action all teams reported back to our temporary base and started taking off our body armor and made safe our weapons and put them back into their cases. We sat in a circle in the parking lot for a while figuring out where we wanted to go eat while 2 police helicopters who have been circling our base all day continued flying low over us. We eventually decided on a local Mexican restaurant and shared good food, cerveza and margaritas after a long hot day before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways back to our respective states.