May Day is an ancient Northern European spring festival that evolved into an honor for working people here in America. But lately it’s gathered another meaning for the alt-right: It’s a day to protest lefties, and to celebrate a dominantly white culture from centuries past.
Never mind that said culture was one of abject misery for most. Historical scholarship is not a conservative strong suit.
So it was only fitting that a protester showed up at Minneapolis’ MayDay parade, which ran through the Phillips and Powderhorn Park neighborhoods. His was a one-man procession, featuring a Make America Great Again hat and the flying of the Kekistan flag.
Kekistan, if you’re unaware, is a fictional country invented by 4chan users, originally meant as a parody homeland for those weary of the racial purity arguments of the right, and the victimhood of the left. They created an elaborate history, detailed belief systems, a religion and even a flag.
Alas, the alt-right was slow to gather the nuance of the lark. Or that it too was being mocked by Kekistan’s extremist sense of patriotism. So it adopted the Kekistan flag, flying it at protests around the country.
But it’s not something you really want to wave at a MayDay parade in south Minneapolis, where neither Donald Trump nor the hard right have many fans.
“I saw him earlier in the day and he was flying the flag,” says Alexander Just. “I didn’t pay much attention to him. I just thought it was weird.”
Then he heard yelling, a confrontation. A photographer by trade, Just began to videotape.
The footage shows a lone man, seemingly trapped between anger and fear. A crowd surrounds him, with some calling him a “Nazi.”
“He wants people genocided!” one man repeatedly shouts.
Others urge peace and attempt to calm. But it isn’t easy to tame emotions when people believe a Nazi’s in their midst.
The protester tucks his MAGA hat into his jacket and disassembles his flag pole, brandishing the pipes in the international signal for go-time. “We can either talk or we can fight,” he announces to his tormentors. Then he draws a line in the sand.
“He looked like he was pretty angry, and he was kind of aggressive,” says Just. “It seemed like he wanted to fight. That’s what my intuition was telling me.”
A scuffle ensues. The protester appears to be punched in the face. He emerges with blood dripping from near his eye. Enough people eventually intervene to keep the peace.
Officially, the theme of this year’s parade was “Beloved Community.” But it seems not everyone got the memo.