Canada’s anti-immigrant, pipeline loving “Yellow Vests” confronted by anti-fascists at Vancouver City Hall

On Saturday, February 9 2019 a “Stand up to Racism” rally was organized at Vancouver City Hall to counter a meeting of the racist Yellow Vests. People started gathering at 11am as a small group of Yellow Vests stood in front of City Hall.

Members of the East Indian Defense Committee, BCGEU, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Young Communist League, UBC Students Against Bigotry, International Socialists, and Alliance Against Displacement gathered alongside individual community members to oppose the Canadian Yellow Vests movement. The counter-rally quickly grew and showed the strength of our solidarity with 80 counter-protestors drowning out the message of hate and division carried by less than 30 Yellow Vests.

Having nothing in common with the French Gilets Jaunes, the Canadian Yellow Vests are an attempt by far right and white supremacists groups to rebrand their hate under a populist discourse. Members of the Revolutionary Communist Party present at the rally explained the use of populist rhetoric by the Yellow Vests: “Some points make sense, like taxation bringing the oil prices up. They capitalize on actual issues the working class faces and use that to garner a base and build an anti-immigrant and anti-communist movement.”

When the Yellow Vests walked up to counter-protestors, arguing for their demands to close borders against “illegals and terrorists,” people chanted back “no borders, no wall, no one is illegal!” A banner reading “drown fascism in a sea of resistance” was set next to another that said “racists and fascists have no right to speak and organize,” marking a front of resistance against racist and pipeline-loving nonsense.

Image credit: UBC Students Against Bigotry

Facing the banners, some Yellow Vests wore MAGA hats and held the colonial flag, while others made the nazi salute and stood with a sign quoting Marine Le Pen, the infamous leader of France’s far right “National Rally” party.

One Yellow Vest, while standing on the side of a group advocating for fewer immigrants and stronger border control, tried to argue that he was “not racist.” This is a typical maneuver of the Canadian Yellow Vests. In response, people formed a front that refused his attempt to erase the line between anti-racist protesters and the Yellow Vests. A cop came right away to protect him, demanding that the anti-racists not “obstruct the way”—that we open a clear pathway for an anti-immigrant activist to wander wherever he’d choose to go. The incident showed there is no distinction between racists and the armed agents of the state. Both wore yellow reflective jackets and chose to stand on the same side, against Indigenous people and working class immigrants.

This rally was the third Yellow Vests action carried out in Vancouver, but it was the first counter rally. Another rally of the Yellow Vests is set to happen. And as they keep organizing, we, in an increasingly organized anti-fascist movement, will keep confronting them everywhere they go.

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