|Predecessor||John Brown Gun Club|
|Founded at||Kansas, United States|
|Methods||Direct action, firearms and first aid training, open carry, outreach, food and clothing programs, community gardens, needle exchanges, potlucks, educational events, protests, security and medical assistance at protests|
|Part of a series on|
the United States
Redneck Revolt is an American far-left group that organizes predominantly among white working-class people. The group supports gun rights and members often openly carry firearms. Its political positions are anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-fascist. Founded in Kansas in 2009, members were present at several protests against Donald Trump and against the far right in 2017.
Redneck Revolt was founded in 2009, in part in response to the perceived contradictions of the Tea Party movement, as an offshoot of the John Brown Gun Club, a firearms training and community defense project that was itself founded in Lawrence, Kansas in 2004. Founding member Dave Strano was previously part of the Kansas Mutual Aid Network, which was involved in organizing protests against the Republican National Convention in 2004, in relation to which he and others began to train with firearms and engage in Second Amendment advocacy. In the early 2000s, John Brown Gun Club members operated anti-racist stalls at gun shows in Kansas. The John Brown Gun Club sought to "demystify" firearms, and to distinguish their commitment to community self-defense from clandestine groups that advocated guerrilla warfare. Its first major mobilization was a protest against the 2005 national conference of the Minuteman Project.
Following a hiatus the group was re-formed as a national organization in summer 2016, using both the Redneck Revolt and John Brown Gun Club names, with the intention of responding to the growth of right-wing populism, particularly among rural, working-class white people.
The group attributes their use of the word "redneck" to the time of the Coal Wars, a series of labor disputes in the United States occurring from around 1890 to around 1930, when the word became popular among coalminers. The use of the term is also intended as a form of subversion or reappropriation. The group's name also refers to the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, and the red bandanas worn by members emulate those worn by striking coalminers during that conflict. A member has said that the group tries "to acknowledge the ways we've made mistakes and bought into white supremacy and capitalism, but also give ourselves an environment in which it's OK to celebrate redneck culture".
Their political influences include the 19th-century abolitionist John Brown, the Young Patriots Organization the Deacons for Defense and Justice, and the Rainbow Coalition, an alliance formed in Chicago in the 1960s between the Black Panther Party, Young Lords and the Young Patriots. The group sees itself as part of a tradition of white working-class "rebellion against tyranny and oppression".
- We stand against white supremacy
- We believe in true liberty for all people
- We stand for organized defense of our communities
- We are working class and poor people
- We are an aboveground militant formation
- We stand against the nation-state and its forces which protect the bosses and the rich (police and military)
- We stand against capitalism
- We stand against the wars of the rich
- We stand against patriarchy
- We believe in the right of militant resistance
- We believe in the need for revolution
Redneck Revolt is an anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-fascist group, and uses direct action tactics. Redneck Revolt supports the rights of Muslims, immigrants and LGBT people and is opposed to economic inequality. Members also support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The group's website includes statements in opposition to capitalism, the nation state, white supremacy and "the wars of the rich", and advocates a "right of militant resistance". They advance a critique of white supremacy, which they describe as "a system of violence and power that ensures that political, economic, and social power is withheld from people who aren't white." They describe their purpose as to
incite a movement amongst working people that works toward the total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexual orientation, gender, country of birth, or any other division that bosses and politicians have used to fragment movements for social, political, and economic freedom.
The website also argues for the necessity of revolution. A spokesperson for the Phoenix, Arizona John Brown Gun Club said in April 2017 that the group includes anarchists, communists, libertarians and Republicans.
The group does not identify itself as part of the political left, nor as politically liberal. The geographer Levi van Sant has argued that the group's ideology is a form of libertarian socialism. The group also do not consider themselves part of Antifa: though their goals are similar, Redneck Revolt members do not cover their faces and seek to be "as upfront about who [they] are and what [they]'re doing as possible." Redneck Revolt does not have leaders, and does not offer a detailed blueprint for political action: a spokesperson said in June 2017 that "We don't have some grand plan for how we want to remake the world. We're tackling a specific problem, which is white supremacy, which we find to be built into capitalism".
The group supports gun rights and runs firearms training events. Members often view the practice of openly carrying guns as a political statement that intimidates opponents and affirms gun rights. In a May 2017 interview a member said the group uses guns only in self-defense and in "response to a rise in politically motivated violence and intimidation against vulnerable communities". In September 2017 a member said "It's not about seizing the gun culture or becoming obsessed about guns. It's only recognizing it's useful to know how to field strip and clean a rifle as much as it is to know how to fix wiring in your house and use a circular saw." The increased visibility of Redneck Revolt in 2017 has sparked debate among activists over the effects of armed protest and the possibility that the use of guns may lead to heightened violence.
A member said in May 2017 that Redneck Revolt had reached out to groups such as the 3 Percenters, a predominantly right-wing group, with whom they have some common ground. The practice of openly carrying firearms, and a shared interest in guns, has led to dialogs with right-wing militias. Van Sant wrote in March 2018 that "Through patient dialogue and popular education, several Redneck Revolt chapters have been able to challenge the white nationalist ideologies of these right-wing libertarian militias and flip them away from anti-immigrant and pro-capitalist positions."
The history of the white working class has been a history of being an exploited people. However, we've been an exploited people that further exploits other exploited people. While we've been living in tenements and slums for centuries, we've also been used by the rich to attack our neighbors, coworkers, and friends of different colors, religions and nationalities.
Redneck Revolt is a national network. Local groups use both the Redneck Revolt and John Brown Gun Club names. There is no official count of the number of chapters, but as of December 2017 the group had around 45 such local chapters across more than 30 U.S. states. The group's membership grew during the 2016 presidential election and following the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2018 local groups in Shelby, North Carolina, Portland, Oregon, and Asheville and Boone, North Carolina disaffiliated from the national network.
The group focuses on anti-racist organizing among white poor and working-class people, though members are not exclusively white: around 30 percent are people of color. In May 2018, a member said that at least one third of the group's membership were women, people of color or non-binary people. Speaking to Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, one of Redneck Revolt's co-founders said the group's membership includes veterans, former Republicans, and former members of the 3 Percenters.
Redneck Revolt is active in spaces in which white supremacist groups also often recruit, including country music concerts, flea markets, gun shows, NASCAR events, rodeos and state fairs. Chapters provide firearms and first aid training, food and clothing programs, and community gardens, and host needle exchanges, potlucks, and educational events. In a September 2017 interview a member said that the group was exploring ways to respond to health care challenges and food shortages. Some of the group's activities are modeled after the Survival Programs pursued by the Black Panther Party and Young Patriots Organization in the 1960s.
During the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in 2016 Redneck Revolt published a pamphlet addressed to members of right-wing militias that argued there was no reason why "the white working-class ... [should] find solidarity with rich white ranch owners against the government, but not working-class people of color defending their own land and community."
The Phoenix, Arizona chapter of Redneck Revolt openly carried firearms outside of the Arizona State Legislature on the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump in January 2017. They declared support for those opposing Trump, including immigrants, LGBTQ people and Muslims.
In April 2017 members attended a counter-protest against groups including the League of the South, the Traditionalist Worker's Party and the National Socialist Movement in Pikeville, Kentucky. Later in April members hosted a barbecue in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Trump was marking his 100th day in office.
Silver Valley Redneck Revolt, a local chapter, organized a counter-demonstration against a Ku Klux Klan rally in Asheboro, North Carolina in May 2017. In a Facebook post the group said "We need to let the Klan know that if they leave their enclaves there will be a broad response from the community ... This event is to publicly denounce the Klan, their beliefs, and show that we will not back down."
A local chapter of Redneck Revolt was part of a counter-protest against a June 2017 rally in support of Trump in Portland, Oregon. Also in June, members were part of a protest against the Christian conservative organization Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which coincided with a speech by Mike Pence to celebrate the group's fortieth anniversary. On June 23 armed members of Redneck Revolt attended a protest in Kalkaska, Michigan in response to anti-Muslim comments made by Jeff Sieting, the village president. Members carried a banner in support of Muslims and said they were there to protect the protesters from counter-protesters supporting Sieting.
In August 2017, members participated in protests against Trump's speech in Phoenix, Arizona. In February 2018 Dwayne E. Dixon, a member of Redneck Revolt and a teaching assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was found not guilty of misdemeanour gun charges for his role in a protest against a Ku Klux Klan event in Durham, North Carolina the previous August. In September 2017, Redneck Revolt supported the Juggalo March on Washington, a protest by juggalos against their designation as a gang. Redneck Revolt's statement said the march aligned with their "belief in the right to community self-determination and self-defense".
In October 2017 a branch of Redneck Revolt in Suffolk County, New York was involved in organizing a candlelight vigil for people suffering from opioid addiction and families effected by the opioid epidemic.
Unite the Right rally
At the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11 and 12, 2017, several Redneck Revolt chapters provided armed security and medical assistance for counterprotesters. Days later, members provided security at a "Hate Is Not Welcome in Lane County" march in Eugene, Oregon in response to the events in Charlottesville.
In October 2017, Redneck Revolt was one of a number of groups named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the city of Charlottesville and several Charlottesville-based businesses and neighborhood associations, which sought to prevent prohibit militia and paramilitary activity in Virginia. The groups and individuals named as defendants, which also included the white supremacist activist Jason Kessler, were accused of unlawful paramilitary activity, falsely assuming the role of law enforcement officers, and being a public nuisance. The lawsuit identified Redneck Revolt and the Socialist Rifle Association, an anti-fascist group that defends working-class people's right to bear arms, as "private militia groups ... [that] helped create and secure a staging area for counter-protestors." Mary McCord, a former federal prosecutor who played a leading role in the lawsuit, described the decision to include Redneck Revolt among the defendants as "painful" and said "This case was not conceived of because of Redneck Revolt, that's for sure. They fit the description, so it was pretty hard not to include them". In June 2018, a group of members of clergy asked the city and the other plaintiffs to remove Redneck Revolt from the complaint. They argued that "There is a marked difference between the armed white supremacist groups who invaded Charlottesville with the intent to do harm and the armed anti-racist groups who came to Charlottesville to assist in supporting and protecting our most marginalized communities." A lead attorney for the plaintiffs responded that "The basis for this lawsuit is not about motives – it's about engaging in paramilitary activity. That's why Redneck Revolt was named as a defendant, and why they remain in the suit." Redneck Revolt and Kessler signed consent decrees to end paramilitary activity in Charlottesville to resolve the lawsuit when they were left as the only defendants in early July 2018. The consent decree prohibits members from returning to Charlottesville "as part of a unit of two or more persons acting in concert while armed with a firearm, weapon, shield or any item whose purpose is to inflict bodily harm, at any demonstration, rally, protest or march." Redneck Revolt issued a statement saying that it had chosen to end the lawsuit and to "focus our energies on the many important fights ahead."
The historian Noel Ignatiev, in September 2017, expressed concern regarding Redneck Revolt's commitment to "defense of our communities". Ignatiev argued that "in this society those who share our material conditions, our neighbors, our family members, our friends, the people working alongside us, usually reflect which race they (and we) are assigned to", and contended that "The goal is not to defend the white community but to abolish it, and along with it all communities defined by racial preference or oppression." He also criticised the group for failing to challenge "institutions that reproduce white supremacy—neither the criminal justice system, nor the schools, nor employment discrimination, nor real estate lending and renting policies", and concluded that "white people organized as whites are dangerous to the working class and to humanity, and white people with guns organized as whites are doubly so—and this is true regardless of the intentions of the organizers." Gabriel Kuhn responded to Ignatiev in a 2018 article. Kuhn argued that "organizations with the aim to primarily mobilize and organize among the white working class ... are mandatory if we don't want to simply abandon this part of the population and hand it to the right on a silver platter."
The geographer Levi van Sant argued in March 2018 that
the Redneck Revolt model of Libertarian Socialism reveals important things, and should be an important part of the U.S. Left. Of particular importance is their Gramscian effort to read for the 'good sense in the common sense' of right-wing populism through radical and grassroots engagement.
Van Sant has also identified three lessons that Redneck Revolt offers to the American left: that working-class white people "are not inherently conservative"; that the group's success is drawn from their critique of modern American liberalism, including on firearms issues; and that they do not employ the rhetoric of white privilege, diversity or inclusion, but instead "position themselves as part of working class and white rural communities" and "act in solidarity with oppressed peoples." Van Sant concluded that "The case of Redneck Revolt suggests there are promising alternatives to Trumpism emanating from the U.S. countryside too often ignored by the U.S. left."
- Anti-Racist Action, a network of anti-fascists and anti-racists in North America
- Black Women's Defense League, a self-defense organization based in Texas
- Huey P. Newton Gun Club, a self-defense organization based in Texas
- Poor White
- Protests against Donald Trump
- Watt, Cecilia Saixue (July 11, 2017). "Redneck Revolt: the armed leftwing group that wants to stamp out fascism". The Guardian. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- March, Stephanie (March 18, 2018). "Antifa: The hard left's call to arms". ABC Online. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Ruth, Serven Smith (July 12, 2018). "Kessler, Redneck Revolt agree to end paramilitary activity in city". The Daily Progress. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Bridges, Virginia (September 1, 2017). "They're leftists with guns. Meet the Redneck Revolt". The Herald-Sun. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- Bray 2017, p. 119.
- Van Sant 2018, p. 1.
- Green, Jordan (April 11, 2018). "They Hate Racists. They Love Assault Rifles. Meet Redneck Revolt". Indy Week. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- Van Sant, Levi (April 16, 2018). "A redneck revolt? Radical responses to Trumpism in the rural US". openDemocracy. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- Van Sant 2018, p. 2.
- Brinegar, Judi (May 6, 2017). "Rallies against KKK find support". The Courier-Tribune. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Wyllie, Julian (May 28, 2018). "A Professor Brought His Guns to Protect Protesters at White-Supremacist Rallies. Then His Troubles Started". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- Lemons, Stephen (April 5, 2017). "Lemons: Lefties with Guns Ready to Rumble with Right-Wing Militias, Says Arizona Anarchist". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Love, David (July 19, 2017). "Pro-Gun, Pro-Labor and Anti-Racist, Redneck Revolt Is Trying to Steer Whites Away from Trump, Right-Wing Militias". Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Pauly, Madison (May–June 2017). "A New Wave of Left-Wing Militants Is Ready to Rumble in Portland—and Beyond". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- Shugerman, Emily (December 25, 2017). "Meet Redneck Revolt, the radical leftist group arming working-class people so they can defend minorities". The Independent. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Green, Jordan (May 6, 2017). "Militant anti-Klan protesters march through downtown Asheboro". Triad City Beat. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Ware, Jared (June 20, 2017). "Redneck Revolt builds anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement with working class whites". ShadowProof. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- Van Sant 2018, p. 3.
- "Redneck Revolt organizing principles". Redneck Revolt. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
- Bray, Mark (2017). Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. Melville House Publishing. p. 119.
- Enzinna, Wes (January 26, 2017). "The Long History of 'Nazi Punching'". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Hersh, Joshua (June 15, 2017). "Extremism experts are starting to worry about the left". Vice. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- Bray 2017, p. 120.
- Maza, Cristina (December 27, 2017). "What is Redneck Revolt? These left-wing activists protest minorities with guns". Newsweek. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Stein, Nat (September 27, 2017). "The left's answer to emboldened white supremacists? A militia of their own". Colorado Springs Independent. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- Hunt, Max (November 10, 2017). "Local activists strive for social change". Mountain Xpress. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Womick, Chip (March 13, 2017). "Asheboro mayor to KKK: 'Don't come here'". The Courier-Tribune. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Trowbridge, Julia (June 23, 2017). "VP Mike Pence speaks at Focus on the Family's 40th anniversary celebration". Rocky Mountain Collegian. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Springer, Morgan; Wanschura, Daniel (June 24, 2017). "Kalkaska protesters argue about hate and freedom of speech in response to FB posts". Interlochen Public Radio. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Bach, Trevor (June 8, 2018). "How This Small Town in Trump Country Dumped Its Islamophobic President". Vice. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- "Trump opponents show up with rifles near event". Fox 5 New York. August 22, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- "Police deploy gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters outside Trump rally as thousands gather". The Independent. August 23, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- Willets, Sarah (February 9, 2018). "Charges Dropped Against Two Accused of Bringing Weapons to Anti-Klan Rally". Indy Week. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- Stryker, Kitty (September 14, 2017). "The Radical Politics Behind the Juggalo March on Washington". Vice. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
- Blasl, Katie (September 30, 2017). "Candlelight vigil for victims of opioid epidemic will be held Sunday downtown". Riverhead Local. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Andrews, Becca (August 16, 2017). "Right-to-Carry Laws Are Making Violent Protests like Charlottesville Even Harder to Defuse". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- Coley, Ben (August 15, 2017). "Local resident recounts Charlottesville". The Dispatch. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- Farah Stockman (August 14, 2017). "Who Were the Counterprotesters in Charlottesville?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- Harriot, Michael (January 12, 2018). "The Caucasian Panthers: Meet the Rednecks Armed, Ready and 'Bout That Anti-Racist Life". The Root. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- Dwyer, Johnny (June 12, 2018). "'Alt-right' and anti-fascists unite against lawsuit designed to prevent another Charlottesville". The Intercept. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
- Rippetoe, Rachel (August 15, 2017). "Hundreds in Eugene march against hate amid national outcry over neo-Nazi rally in Virginia". The Register-Guard. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- Segerstrom, Carl (August 17, 2017). "Setting the Terms after Charlottesville". Eugene Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- Baars, Samantha (October 12, 2017). "Militia madness: City files suit against August 12 participants". C-VILLE Weekly. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- Suarez, Chris (October 12, 2017). "New suits filed against Aug. 12 rally organizers". The Daily Progress. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- "League of the South: No more armed rallies in Charlottesville". Al Jazeera. March 27, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- Arria, Michael (April 29, 2018). "Why Is Charlottesville Suing Two Anti-Racist Groups Over Last Year's Violent 'Unite the Right' Rally?". Truthout. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- Suarez, Chris (June 8, 2018). "Kessler planning anniversary rallies in city, D.C." The Daily Progress. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- Green, Jordan (July 12, 2018). "Jason Kessler, Redneck Revolt settle lawsuit with Charlottesville". Triad City Beat. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
- Ignatiev, Noel (September 15, 2017). "Rainbow Coalition or Class War?". Hard Crackers: Chronicles of Everyday Life. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
- Kuhn, Gabriel (2018). "New Classes for a New Class Politics: An Appreciation of David Gilbert's Looking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically". Turning the Tide. 30 (2): 6.
- Bray, Mark (2017). Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. Melville House Publishing.
- Van Sant, Levi (March 17–18, 2018). A Redneck Revolt? Radical Responses to Trumpism in the Rural US (PDF). Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative 2018 International Conference: Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World. International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
- Strano, Dave (2018). "Toward a Redneck Revolt". In Crow, Scott. Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self-Defense. PM Press.