Article/Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Video by Ford Fischer

On the heels of CPAC, conservative author Mike Cernovich hosted a sequel to his pricey right-wing gala in downtown Washington – and area antifa were there to greet him.

Cernovich’s first dinner, dubbed “A Night for Freedom,” brought conservative personalities including Cassandra Fairbanks, Jack Posobiec, and Gavin McInnes to a dinner in Manhattan on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. Declaring his first event a success, Cernovich set sail for Washington for the next installment of an event left-wing protesters have labeled an “alt-right party.”

Lacy MacAuley, a local antifa organizer, denounced Cernovich’s gala as one put  together by and for “privileged white male elite.” With a history of protest against right-wing events in Washington, she announced plans to meet “A Night for Freedom” with an anti-fascist picket at the doors to the Gaylord – counter-programming she instead called “A Fight for Freedom.”

Lacy MacAuley

“As a woman and as a survivor of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, I abhor these smug privileged white men who encourage their followers to rape women, who believe that women are inferior, who blame us for the fractured society their capitalist greed has created,”  MacAuley said in the press release where she originally announced her intent to meet Cernovich’s event with a “powerful presence of opposition to the fascists present.”

“I encourage you to peacefully protest anything that I ever do,” Cernovich told News2Share in response to anti-fascist plans to protest his gala. “Do you wanna ruin your life? Don’t be violent. Do you want to protest me? Great. I’ll come say ‘hi,’ I’ll talk to you, I’ll give you a hot cocoa if it’s cold outside. You can yell at me whatever you want to yell at me.”

What ensued on Saturday night ultimately proved wholly peaceful, albeit verbally charged. Despite the venue’s location remaining unclear until moments before it started, about two dozen black block protesters gathered outside the City Club in downtown Washington. They hurled insults at attendees, who periodically emerged – drinks in hand – to mock them and take selfies with the protest in the backdrop. A line of police officers separated protesters from the event-goers at the club’s entrance.

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Antifa protesters stood outside for over an hour deriding attendees with chants like “you want a red pill, how about a lead pill,” and “any time, any place, punch a Nazi in the face” – the latter referring to Richard Spencer’s infamous run-in with a masked protester last year. They repeatedly demanded to see Cernovich himself, though he never showed. “If he wants to bring me hot chocolate I would lead a chant: ‘we say no to fascist hot cocoa,’” McAuley later said. “I do not accept any extensions of an olive branch. I don’t need to talk to them, I need to shut them down.”

Antifa Protesters

There were no arrests or physical altercations, even though antifa protesters attempted at several points, unsuccessfully, to block people from getting in. A known member of group even attempted to gain entry to the event, only to be turned back.

“I don’t think anybody noticed if there was an infiltrator, so they did a really bad job. Back in my days on the left when I would infiltrate things, I did far better,” said Cassandra Fairbanks, a right-wing journalist who attended Cernovich’s event. “I don’t understand why antifa decided to protest a party instead of protesting something like CPAC, where there’s actually neocons responsible for the Iraq War. But whatever, their priorities seemed a little screwed up for me.”

They would later set up a mobile projector on the sidewalk, shining messages including “dismantle white supremacy” and “alt-right is wrong” onto the building while the event was held inside.