Gentrification in Austin and the far right


After a prolonged struggle against gentrification in East Austin and repeated pickets against Blue Cat Café and its owner, Rebecca Gray, for violating the community boycott of F&F Real Estate Ventures, the far right has come to the defense of Blue Cat: Trump supporters, neo-Nazis, and InfoWars have been writing articles defending the café as well as harassing community members online and posting pictures of Mussolini.

It has been clear for some time the kind of friends Rebecca Gray keeps close: friends like Christopher Kinlaw, who is still facing charges for arson for an incident where he allegedly set fire to a condo in a building with over 300 sleeping people inside, waited to charge his phone before leaving, and locked the door behind him. This was all to get out of a lease and a failed attempt to frame his roommate. Rebecca Gray keeps an advertisement for Kinlaw’s company Domus Outdoor posted proudly in her window.

Rebecca has been seen online posting and supporting racist comments against the Chicano community she has invaded as well as imaginatively referring to herself as John Galt, a fictional character from the grotesque imagination of right-winger Ayn Rand. After the most recent picket, which generated much police and media attention, the far right has firmly placed itself in Blue Cat Café’s corner. In a recent article from fascist mouthpiece and Trump fanboy site InfoWars, they presented their white supremacist support for Blue Cat Café and places like it by stating,

Gentrification is the process whereby former run down, crime-ridden areas are regenerated to become welcoming business hubs that provide cultural outposts and employment.

Social justice warriors aren’t big fans of that and would prefer such areas to remain gang-infested ghettos where innocent people—particularly white people—are harassed and attacked.

What they mean here could not be more clear—they are saying that brown and black people are criminals and that the only culture they are interested in is white culture. When Nazi ideology openly comes to the defense of a gentrifying business, it becomes more important than ever for you to support the boycott.

The demarcations have been clearly drawn: on our side there is the people—of all faiths and backgrounds, from many different ethnicities—and on their side is the strong arm of white supremacist capitalism, arsonists, fascists, and Trump supporters, who have squirmed out of the woodwork like pestilence to call us terrorists. One Blue Cat Café supporter has this to say: “You commies are so degenerate all we can is pray for you . . . Pray for the day you die. The next round of progroms will star you as the target.”

We assume she means pogroms, which was the term used by fascists in the extermination of Jewish people. These are the friends of Rebecca Gray and the mentality of those who support Donald Trump. Some peaceful, friendly cat-lovers these turned out to be. . . . .

Blue Cat Café was righteously attacked by legal protest and illegal direct action. We will not condemn these tactics; we must instead understand them. The march east of white supremacist capitalism in Austin comes in the form of gentrification. It leaves in its wake nothing but pain, loss, and economic hardship. The perpetrators of this process are not only white people: oppressed-nations people can be and are part of gentrification. However in Austin it is white business-owners and white customers who are the most aggressive and invasive when it comes to robbing us of our neighborhoods. This is the reason why the far right comes out to defend places like Blue Cat. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the working class and especially the oppressed-nations working class are fed up to the point of rebellion, of taking matters into their own hands. Some will say that illegal activity is going “too far”; we say it is fine—that is right to rebel! To our readers who find themselves on the side of the people, there is no limit to what you can do and there are many ways you can get involved. Increase the pressure on these scum and drive them out. It is true that a little glue in the door’s locks and a little spray paint will not end the existence of Blue Cat. It becomes clear then that things must be taken much further. Blue Cat is only one antagonism, a point of rupture where the contradictions have become sharp. It stands and should thus fall as a symbol of gentrification. We must not see it as an end goal: other gentrification establishments as well as the gentrifying customers must also be target, with mass movements and with direct action. Gentrification is organized violence. We must respond accordingly and in kind.

Austin has become increasingly expensive while working-class neighborhoods like Rainey Street have been uprooted, with the homes left standing now as a playground for the rich. The east side has seen a steadily decreasing black population due to gentrification. Austin infrastructure had been constructed to cordon off the east side and keep us in poverty until the ruling class wanted it for themselves and began displacing everyone. Now our local movements are being targeted by white supremacists, fascists, and Trump supporters. When such battle lines have been drawn we must all choose sides: to support Blue Cat at this point is support fascist methods of slander and intimidation. To oppose Blue Cat means standing against institutional racism and with the working class of the oppressed nations. There are two Austins: one that produces filth like InfoWars, places like Blue Cat, and other overpriced establishments that are only accessible economically and culturally to the well-to-do white population, many of whom have invaded from out of state. The other Austin is one we know well but hear less about it: it is the people’s Austin, a city that has deep-rooted indigenous, Chicano, and black culture, a place where working people of all stripes come together in moments of crisis to defend one another—this is such a moment, and even if you were not born and raised here we insist that it is your duty to side with the people of Austin.

The fascists have raised almost $2,000 for Blue Cat to not only cover the damage but to hire security. This is an old phenomena in the context of colonialism, from Algeria to Palestine to old US settler frontier towns. The methods are the same: anger a people so much that you are compelled to hire police to use violence to enforce your presence on an unwelcoming population. While this case does not come close to the terror evoked by the examples given, the mentality behind this move is exactly the same. Finally and most importantly it is the people, not weapons, that are principal, and it is the people themselves who will rebel, rise up, and cleanse the earth of gentrification. Cameras and cops will not protect Blue Cat. The people have spoken in a loud chorus of protest as well as with their actions. The people will be heard, and their warnings must be heeded. This is not simply a question of spaces and tastes or a question of just culture for that matter: it is a question of politics, of economy, and most importantly it is class struggle.

Which Austin do you intend to be part of? Which class do you serve? These are the questions you must ask yourselves if you have yet to participate in this struggle. Do not let your inactivity speak for you—and most importantly, fight for our class, fight for our Austin! Blue Cat Café is not safe to visit: it is a battleground. We discourage everyone from attending lest they should find themselves in between two opposing forces—anti-fascism and fascism.

Blue Cat and all of Texas sits on stolen land!

It is right to rebel against fascism, reaction and gentrification!