uring the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, the city’s central plaza became an ideological Star Wars canteen. Burly Christian fundamentalists hoisted signs denouncing Islam a few feet from a publicity-seeking Muslim with an AR-15 slung across his back. Clusters of communists chanted “America was never great!” while Bikers for Trump paraded around in MAGA hats. Off to one side, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a longtime activist in the militant left-wing anti-fascist movement, sat on a bench beside me surveying the rabble, pointing out various white supremacists who’d come to town to celebrate Donald Trump’s ascension.
He’d already seen the Traditionalist Worker Party’s Matt Heimbach, who a few months earlier had assaulted a black female protester at a Trump rally in Kentucky. He’d spotted Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo, who, a year later, would make news for their high-profile roles in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Looking into the crowd, Jenkins drew my attention to a stocky shaven-headed man in a St. Vincent T-shirt—Matt Forney, an internet personality whose work blends racism with men’s rights activism. (His oeuvre includes “How to Beat Your Girlfriend or Wife and Get Away With It.”) A handful of young men hovered around him. “They’re organizing, they’re recruiting, they’re going around talking to people, and they’re trying to basically beef up their numbers,” Jenkins said. He was there to watch them. “I’ve been taking video of every Nazi I’ve seen,” he told me.
“I’ve been taking video of every Nazi I’ve seen,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins, 49, is a black man who has devoted his life to fighting white supremacists, sometimes literally. He is the founder of the One People’s Project, easily the most mainstream and well-known anti-fascist, or antifa, organization. (Its motto is “Hate Has Consequences.”) Unlike other left-wing groups that track the far right, One People’s Project—which Jenkins runs with the help of a network of about 15 volunteers—confronts its enemies, whether that means getting in their faces at protests, doxing them, or contacting their employers. A volunteer named Laura, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, described her work with OPP as “antifa CIA.”