Coalition Against Bigotry Pacific organizes local antifascist rally
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
After many neo-Nazi flyers were found throughout Abbotsford and Richmond neighbourhoods in the past few months, propaganda has made its way into New Westminster. The posters included racist neo-Nazi messages, with a strong visual image showing what seems to be terrorists pointing their guns at a group of soldiers with neo-Nazi swastikas displayed on their arms. These posters are encouraging passerby’s to “Join us before they stomp you.”
At the bottom of the poster sits an ominous website link, where visitors will find what seems to be a mission statement that says: “Once under serious attack by [the police], of course, consider yourself a marked individual and proceed to kill as many of them as you can.” This shocking appearance of bigotry has caused an uproar across the Lower Mainland, most recently in late January.
On January 29, an anti-fascist rally took place in New Westminster’s downtown area (not to be confused with New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy’s rally earlier that week). The rally was organized by Imtiaz Popat, head of the Coalition Against Bigotry Pacific (CABP). CABP labels themselves as a group of individuals, organizations, and communities against bigotry and white supremacy in the Pacific Northwest. CABP supporters marched alongside members of Vancouver Antifa, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the Canada Employment and Immigration Union. The marchers totalled over 100 individuals.
“People think this is a joke, it’s not,” said Popat to the New Westminster Record. “There’s a whole group of neo-Nazi fascist groups that have been organizing for a long time and the rise of Donald Trump has given them the green light to start doing this again. This is our hood, and we need to say something.”
The Other Press briefly spoke with Popat about what took place at the rally. According to him, there were fascists amongst the crowd who posted on their event page after. Notably, some people from the UBC Free Speech Club made an appearance to support Trump. Though a spotlight has been placed on these recent events, Popat finds it surprising that the word has still yet to be spread about neo-Nazi propaganda on local soil.
“[Many have been] shocked. A lot of people didn’t know this had happened. But many people came from New West and elsewhere [to show support],” said Popat. “We have been concerned that these fascists would kill someone because it’s not an important issue for people. Now someone has killed six people while [they were] praying in Quebec City. Last Sunday, we had a vigil in Vancouver in solidarity with the Muslim Community.”
Popat and CABP look to the future with hope that their stance against bigotry will resonate across the Lower Mainland, ensuring that violent acts like what happened in Quebec will not make its way into their neighbourhood anytime soon.