Shane Burley: Amid Crackdown on Activists, Support Groups Help Resistance Continue Behind Bars

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Protesters from various anti-fascist groups rally against the Proud Boys on November 16, 2019 in New York City. Two members of the Proud Boys were recently sentenced to prison after a fight outside of the Republican Club in New York City last year. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

“I have a confession to make: I’m an antifascist, and I’m going to jail for it,” David Campbell wrote the night before he reported to Rikers Island in New York City.

January 20, 2018, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) broke Campbell’s leg in two places while arresting him during an anti-fascist protest event that was held in response to a far right event happening in the city. Police alleged that Campbell had attacked a right-wing event attendee and tried to strangle the officer who arrested him. When surveillance footage failed to corroborate these claims, the initial charges were dropped. Instead, Campbell eventually had gang assault added to his list of charges, which activists say was politically motivated since the charges seem to stem from Campbell’s participation in an anti-fascist protest. The gang assault charges would hold him responsible for all injuries that occurred in the conflict, even if he did not personally commit them.

Campbell now is serving an 18-month prison sentence from a non-cooperating plea bargain, a haunting result for an organizer whose goal had been to build a movement against racism in his community.

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