About Face: Veterans Against the War launched efforts in support of BLM demonstrations across the country. Formerly knows as Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), About Face has made no secret in their social media presence of standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. However, after receiving internal communications from a member that is concerned about the direction the group is going, it became important to shine a light on this matter. Even News Analytics has addressed the need to combat police brutality issues in America, however some of what we uncovered in the emails was a bit more concerning.
In an email titled “EMERGENCY: Portland and the Secret Police,” there is a perfectly reasonable call to action. In opposition to the use of National Guard troops to combat riots as we previously discussed, there is a call to support emergency legislation and phone numbers provided to DC phone boards. However, in a follow up email titled “Members only call notes,” they addressed the need for “a quick reaction now to stop the authoritarian spread.” Furthermore, they urged members that, “If you’d like to be part of the organizational response to these developments reply to this email and you’ll be added to the discussion group.” In my experience, an organizational response to developments would be a “boots on the ground” scenario. Coupled with reports of outsiders being bused in and blamed for instigating violence, it is easy to expect the same from supporters.
To be clear, I am not saying About Face is the cause of violence. I am however saying it is reasonable that they would send in ground support to a cause they believe in.
About Face BLM Action Guide
“Fellow About Face Members: We encourage you to show up in solidarity with organizers in your community demanding justice for George Floyd and all victims of state violence in the coming days. If you do so as an About Face member, please utilize the privilege afforded you as a veteran to protect and defend the most vulnerable members of our community: our black, indigenous, trans, queer, and disabled relatives. Do not give the police an excuse to target or make an example out of you or those around you. You know better than anyone how the state will use any opportunity to exact violence against vulnerable populations. Your power is not in your ability to use force but in your numbers, discipline, and love for your comrades. We’ve included tips and best practices to assist you below.”
This is the opening statement on an odd document housed on a secure and encrypted french server. We have provided the redirect link for access, but do so at your own risk.
The document includes preparation advice, including to dress comfortably but to remember that jails are cold at night. It also advises carrying a towel soaked in vinegar in a sealed plastic bag to combat against the use of chemical weapons deployment, as well as advising against oil based sunscreen that can trap chemicals in the skin.
In the short list of actions to avoid as to not cause detriment to the movement, the most notable was: “Don’t police the protest. Under no circumstances should you position yourself to police the movement and it’s choices in terms of tactics.”
This type of specification can only be deemed as a response to riots that we have seen wide spread. The exact same action that is prompting a “Secret Police” response as they so put it. For a group that is circulating legitimate first amendment and legislative responses to what they see as a problem in their country, there seems to be zero effort to reduce escalation of violence to begin with.
About Face BLM Emails
Below are the emails that I was provided with. The persons name, as well as his email address, originating email addresses, and chapter information has been redacted by request in order to prevent his exposure. This article simply showed a few highlights I found to be the most important. Do you see something we didn’t cover? Leave your comment or your own information below.