On Saturday, November 2nd, a transphobic panel occurred that drew protesters from across the city. When the latest instalment of the GIDYVR: Still Talking Series was announced to be held at SFU, multiple protests were planned by various groups, including a red contingent led by the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Revolutionary Student Movement, the Independent Jewish Voices – UBC, among other militant anti-fascists.
In the lead up to the protest this red contingent and its allies put up posters around the city particularly in the universities and colleges. These posters displayed the most notorious speaker, Meghan Murphy and her history of attacking trans people. In addition to the posters, this red contingent organised two phone zaps targeting the Facebook pages, the phone numbers, and the emails of those platforming this transphobic event.
Following massive public backlash and the threat of more direct action against the event organisers, the event was forced from SFU to the Pan Pacific Hotel. The organisers kept the location information secret until two hours before when it was shared to ticket holders in order to limit the size of the protest.
Despite the last-minute change of location, the protest still managed to gather dozens of protesters including many militant anti-fascists, but also some liberal petty-bourgeois groups like the UBC Students against Bigotry. Shortly after the protest began, a number of Proud Boys and their allies appeared. Most prominent was the Proud Boy who identifies himself as Josh who had previously been beaten up in a bathroom stall of the Astoria. As the night went on, more and more Proud Boys showed up with their allies.
At the beginning of the protest, the fascists were allowed to gather undisturbed. Those in the red contingent circulated among the crowd and brought a number of protesters to go up to the fascists directly and confront them. The Proud Boys, particularly Josh attempted to start a number of fights with anti-fascist protesters while the pigs sat back and allowed the Proud Boys to do their dirty work.
As the protest continued protesters were split up to cover the exits of the building by one of the organising parties, the Coalition against Trans Antagonism (CATA), in order to bang on the doors of the hotel. This strategic failure separated the protesting forces into smaller factions that could more easily be attacked by the fascists. It also turned the attention of the protesters away from the immediate and growing fascist threat to instead focus solely on disruption.
While disruption was the reason the protest had been called, the members of this red contingent viewed the strategy of CATA to be based off of an inaccurate analysis of the situation. The growing fascist presence required a reorientation of the protest’s focus toward the fascists that threatened the safety of all those present. In the face of the gathering fascists, the initial goal of disruption became secondary.
The members of the red contingent quickly tried to rectify this error made by CATA by bringing the group back together to redirect the attention of the protesters toward the gathering fascists. This consisted of the circling of the fascists on three sides and moving inward, while the chants changed to reflect the new nature of the protest.
Near the end of the protest, the Proud Boys had gathered together with members of the UBC Free Speech Club, and the founder of the UBC Students for Freedom of Expression, Nicholas Kosovic.