By Andres Herrera
With an anarchy symbol above their table, a group of students who call themselves “Antifa” invite students to have a discussion. They set up a table around the E5 building on campus and display books, pamphlets and booklets. They look for fellow students to inform and educate.
The pamphlets and books are from the institute of anarchist studies, art collectives from the ELAC and zines, or handmade magazines, about the Industrial Workers of the World.
Group member Kristen Huizar defines Antifa as an anti-fascist group with no single leader that aims to have discussions with students of differing opinions. They also want to better inform students of what their group is about, since ‘Antifa’ is such a broad label, according to Huizar.
Although their group originally set up to counter the military presence here, recruiter or otherwise, however this changed as they saw a need for another perspective. The intentions of sparking conversation and discussion with people of different opinions is why they set up a table and invite those who walk by to a discussion. One of the ways they do this is by writing an invitation with chalk to the curious passerby.
Above the table is an anarchy symbol on a piece of paper, an ‘A’ with a circle around it. Huizar admits that she mainly put it up there just to attract attention so she could tell students about Antifa and how it’s different from anarchy, claiming the two often get confused.
To inform students and to get them to start asking questions is what Huizar really wants. Referencing the Associated Student Union elections as an example, Huizar said that it is not a good example of what democracy is.
“I don’t know any of these people who are running, they haven’t gone to any of the classes… they basically say vote for me, post some signs and that’s it,” Huizar said. Through a lack of campaigning and knowing who is running, Huizar connects this with U.S. politics, asking how the elected can represent the population if they’re not engaged with them.
Elvis Cano, a member of Antifa, said that with many different groups that come to the free speech area on campus. Between the organizations, military and religious campaigners that come to ELAC and set up a table, there needs to be a left wing presence, which seems to be nonexistent. He also says that anarchism gets a bad rap, and encourages students to read on the definition and engage in a dialogue.
Anifa is starting to become a necessary answer to the rise of the right, especially with our current president, according to Cano. This resistance is necessary through Antifa because he feels like the right has been given a big enough platform to speak on. He also feels that they have been given a license to hate and discriminate.
The group’s message focuses on awareness of what they are about, information on what antifa and anarchism is, and sparking a dialogue with students with hopes to educate and inform.