Red Guards (United States)

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Red Guards
Founded2015 (2015)
Dissolved2019 (as Red Guards) (2019 (as Red Guards))
2022 (complete dissolution) (2022 (complete dissolution))
Succeeded byCommittee to Reconstitute the Communist Party USA (CR-CPUSA) (2019–2022)
NewspaperIncendiary News (2018–2020)
Tribune of the People (2020–2022)
Membership200 (estimated max)[citation needed]
Revolutionary socialism
Political positionFar-left
Party flag

The Red Guards were American "Marxist–Leninist–Maoist collectives of community organizers and mass workers"[1] originating in Los Angeles and Austin with other branches operating in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte, as well as St. Louis and San Marcos, under the distinct titles of Red Path Saint Louis and San Marcos Revolutionary Front respectively.[2]

The group was named after the Red Guards that operated under Mao Zedong in the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution that were composed of militant students who campaigned against the "reactionary and bourgeois" culture of China. The Red Guards opposed left-wing organizations they deemed revisionist, such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA).

Since 2019, all Red Guards chapters have either been abandoned or have announced their dissolution. According to a report in The Daily Beast, several organizations speculated to be connected to former Red Guards, such as the Committee to Reconstitute the CPUSA, United Neighborhood Defense Movement, and the dormant Mike Ramos Brigade, continued activity through 2022.[3]



The Red Guards first originated in Austin, Texas, when in 2015, communists that were previously participating in an effort to form a communist party based around Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology split, and instead organized into a smaller grouping, known as the Austin Red Guards, whose activities were initially limited to charity and small demonstrations in favor of the LGBTQ+ community, which were commonly done under the slogan "serve the people."[4]

2016–2018: Impact of 2016 election[edit]

After the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016, the Red Guards intensified their efforts, with Red Guards Austin stating "The war is not coming, it is here and now" in their "Everywhere is a Battlefield" polemic.[5] At an Austin protest that month, Red Guards Austin leader Jared Roark (alias Dallas) was tackled by police following an altercation with a Trump supporter. Roark was arrested, charged with resisting arrest, and ultimately found not guilty. In a 2023 article published in The Daily Beast, former Red Guards members described how the incident galvanized the groups efforts.[3] It is believed that Roark consolidated national leadership of Red Guard chapters around 2016, due in part to the successful reputation of this event.[6]

On September 21, 2017, a joint statement from Kansas City Revolutionary Collective (later known as Red Guards Kansas City), Red Guards Los Angeles, Tampa Maoist Collective, Queen City Maoist Collective (later known as Red Guards Charlotte), Red Guards Austin, and Revolutionary Association of Houston was released that heavily criticized and publicly severed all ties with the Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective due to alleged "horrendous security culture" and "weaponized identity politics" within Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective's leadership.[7]

On March 8, 2018, the Kansas City Revolutionary Collective reconstituted itself as Red Guards Kansas City due to "a higher level of unity that has been achieved after almost two years of patient struggle with other Red Guards collectives, specifically Red Guards Austin" in regards primarily to questions of "the universality of protracted people’s war, party militarization, and concentric construction of the three instruments for revolution".[8]

2019–2022: Post-dissolution activity[edit]

On December 17, 2018, Red Guards Austin announced its dissolution after further controversy, with Red Guards Los Angeles following suit on May 17, 2019.[9][10] In the subsequent months, most remaining Red Guards chapters ceased any official visible activity and announced their dissolution. According to former members, some Red Guards actually went underground rather than dissolving, and later formed the Committee to Reconstitute the Communist Party of the United States of America (CR-CPUSA).[11]

Related organizations experienced further decline when leader Jared Roark began a prison sentence for firearm charges in 2021. In spring 2022, CR-CPUSA members convened in Texas and resolved to dissolve the organization for good.[3] Since then, all remaining affiliate groups have ceased activity.


Hierarchy of the RG/CR-CPUSA. Red = internal organizers; Yellow = public organizers; Gray = semi-affiliated or unorganized supporters

The Red Guards and its subsequent organization, the CR-CPUSA, operated on a centralist structure layered by various levels of membership from public front supporters to the secretive central organization.

The national formation was led by Jared Roark, the head of the Red Guards' branch in Austin. Roark initially assumed this position in 2016, after persuading other chapters to follow his ideological thesis Condemned to Win.[12] A select number of associates (most of whom were based in Austin) were leaders of the Politburo. This close-knit cadre of trusted personnel was further backed up with an "inner circle" chosen from the leadership of other local chapters who were deemed loyal enough to follow the Politburo's direction.

Beyond the internal organization, the Politburo used lower "front" organizations to disseminate ideological information to public connections or rally unaffiliated activists to certain actions or protests. Typically, front organizations fanatically attempted to co-opt local progressive groups in order to win over more unaffiliated "supporters" or force recruitment through hostile takeovers.


Anti-electoral protests[edit]

In 2015, the Red Guards went on an anti-electoral campaign, pushing for a boycott of the 2016 election, with the slogan, "Don't vote, revolt!"[13] Red Guards Austin published an online statement in September 2018 calling for the boycott of the 2018 midterm elections. After the group's purported 2019 dissolution, members of affiliated groups reportedly smashed egg shells filled with paint on local congressional candidate Heidi Sloan.[14]

Anti-gentrification activity[edit]

Red Guards Los Angeles members staged demonstrations against gentrification through a number of related organizations such as Defend Boyle Heights, Serve the People, Ovarian Psycos, and the Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement (BHAAAD).[15]

Defend Our Hoodz, an organization believed to be affiliated with Red Guards Austin, protested many perceived gentrification projects throughout the city.[16][17] In a 2020 Twitter statement, Defend Our Hoodz disputed Heidi Sloan's characterization of their organization as a part of Red Guards Austin.[18]

Anti-police demonstrations[edit]

On July 18, 2016, Red Guards Austin staged a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Red Guards would later heavily critique the group's mode of operation as well as its leadership, declaring the movement to be forefronted by "pig apologists."[19]

Cadre School[edit]

In 2016, the organization began offering a month-long program known as "Cadre School" with both physical and political training.[3]


The Red Guards released an extensive description of their political philosophy in a position paper published online in 2016, titled "Condemned to Win!"[20] In the article, it is explained that the theoretical structures of the collectives are based on the ideology of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism, with Maoism being principal. The Red Guards place a specific reverence for Abimael Guzmán, also known as "Chairman Gonzalo", who led the Shining Path revolutionary organization and waged a protracted guerilla and terrorist campaign in Peru.[2][21]

Canadian Maoist academic, J. Moufawad-Paul identifies this ideology as MLMpM, or "Maoism-Leninism-Marxism principally Maoism", a dogmatic subset of Maoism, which emerged from the Parti Communiste Francais (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism), a small French Maoist party that was established in 2011, and operated the website[22][23]

They have criticized other leftist groups including the Democratic Socialists of America,[24] Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Workers World Party.


The Red Guards have been generally negatively received by most of the American political left.

The Red Guards have been formally condemned by the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Following an alleged assault by the Red Guards in Austin, the PSL released a statement equating the Red Guard's provocations to tactics used by the FBI as part of COINTELPRO, which targeted left-wing dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s for suppression through the use of agent provocateurs.[25]

Cosmonaut Magazine published an editorial by Konstantin Sverdlov condemning the group following a 2019 incident where members of the Red Guards Kansas City disrupted an event hosted by the local branch of the DSA, assaulted several members,[26] and gave a public statement condemning the group as "social fascists". Sverdlov describes the group as being dogmatic and violent, routinely disrupting organizing activities, and being "fellow travelers of fascism".[4]


Allegations of abuse[edit]

Since the initial collapse of Red Guards proper in 2019, various statements from former members have circulated online, revealing the internal culture of the organization and the behavior of its leaders. They describe the structure of the Red Guards as extremely bureaucratic, controlling, and even "cultish", with discipline revolving around leaders' subjective interpretations of members' conduct.[27]

Dissenting members that performed unsatisfactory to this discipline would often be subject to physical and verbal assault, forced sleep deprivation, stalking and isolation, and death threats.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caterine, Joseph. "Red Guards and the Modern Face of Protest". Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Kistler, C. (April 29, 2018). "Red Guards Austin Statement for the May 1, 2018". Redspark. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Weill, Kelly (October 22, 2023). "Ex-Members of This Maoist Clique Say It Was a 'Cult'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Criticism and Self-Criticism: Red Guards or Iron Guards?". Cosmonaut. October 17, 2019. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  5. ^ Austin, Red Guards (August 27, 2017). "Everywhere a Battlefield". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  6. ^ "Basic History". "Full and Conscious Subjection": Inside a Maoist cult in america. August 11, 2023. Retrieved August 13, 2023.
  7. ^ "Opportunism vs Maoism: St. Louis Revolutionary Collective as a Lesson for the US Maoist Movement". Redspark. September 21, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  8. ^ "Announcing Red Guards Kansas City". Red Guards Kansas City. March 8, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  9. ^ "Important Notice". Red Guards Austin. December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "Important Notice". Red Guards Los Angeles. May 17, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  11. ^ "CR-CPUSA Exposé". "Full and Conscious Subjection": Inside a Maoist cult in america. August 11, 2023. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  12. ^ Austin, Red Guards (July 5, 2016). "Condemned to Win! Position paper from Red Guards Austin, 2016". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  13. ^ Austin, Red Guards (September 7, 2016). "DON'T VOTE, REVOLT!". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  14. ^ Price, Asher. "Austin Democratic congressional candidate says she was assaulted". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  15. ^ Jae-An Crisman, Jonathan; Kim, Annette (2020). "Correction to: Property outlaws in the Southland: The potential and limits of guerrilla urbanism in the cases of arts gentrification in Boyle Heights and street vending decriminalization in Los Angeles". URBAN DESIGN International. 25 (2): 179–191. doi:10.1057/s41289-019-00104-7. S2CID 256516072.
  16. ^ Hardy, Michael. "The Battle of the Blue Cat Café". Texas Monthly. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  17. ^ King, Michael. "Defend Our Hoodz Gets Mixed Up With Arts District, Presidium, Chronicle". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  18. ^ Defend Our Hoodz - Austin. "Additionally we are not part of Red Guards Austin (RGA) which @HeidiSloanForTX claims. We are our own, revolutionary anti-gentrification organization that has fought exploitation in the community, and will continue to do so". Twitter. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  19. ^ Austin, Red Guards (July 18, 2016). "What the fuck is wrong with the Black Lives Matter Movement in Austin?!". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  20. ^ Austin, Red Guards (July 5, 2016). "Condemned to Win! Position paper from Red Guards Austin, 2016". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  21. ^ "Peru-Shining Path". May 23, 2021. Retrieved August 13, 2023.
  22. ^ Moufawad-Paul, J. (2020). Critique of Maoist Reason. Paris, France: Foreign Languages Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-2-491182-11-3. Fourthly, there is "Marxism-Leninism-Maoism principally Maoism" (MLMpM). Basing itself primarily on the "Gonzalo Thought" of the PCP, this tendency upholds the people's war of Peru as the primary, if not sole, location of Maost reason [...] The first fully fledged articulation of this tendency is the Parti Communiste Francais (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) and the small internatl groups it pulled into its orbit.
  23. ^ "PCMLM founding Document #1 Jan. 2011". January 2011.
  24. ^ Austin, Red Guards (October 21, 2018). "DSA are capitalist pigs!". Red Guards Austin. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  25. ^ "'Red Guards' Austin's COINTELPRO-style tactics and slanderous attack against the PSL". Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  26. ^ "Statement of Solidarity with KC DSA". DSA Metro Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky. October 14, 2019. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  27. ^ strugglesessions (February 13, 2023). "(Repost) Statement on abuse by Austin "Maoist" activists". Ex-Struggle Sessions. Retrieved August 13, 2023.

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