On the night of May 9, 2018, members of Stonewall Militant Front (SMF) along with members of the LGBT community and members of Revolutionary Student Front (RSF) stood against rapist McKinley Forbes and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Forbes helped to found the Austin PSL branch and is heavily involved in organizing with them. Earlier that day, information was released by Red Guards Austin (RGA) outing Forbes as a violent rapist and a threat to our community. In the statement, RGA made a call to ban Forbes from all public spaces in Austin and for PSL to either release a public statement regarding Forbes or accept that they will be seen (and treated) as an organization which harbors a rapist. Since PSL did not comply, their “People’s Congress of Resistance” event was disrupted and shut down.
After the article about Forbes was made public by RGA, local PSL leader Brian Griffith immediately began trying to shift the blame onto others via social media. Instead of suspending Forbes and demanding an independent investigation, which would have been a logical response, he referred to Forbes not as the accused but as a “vulnerable member of a small organization”. He went on to claim Forbes’ innocence by suggesting that RGA was trying to “dish out unfounded accusations without ever facing the repercussions of lying.” Griffith and other PSL members automatically and without hesitation assumed the innocence of Forbes and claimed the investigation was carried out without evidence (oddly a charge they make without any evidence). They did not seek to investigate the matter for themselves or to find any evidence, as per usual within organizations like the PSL. They do not care at all for the people, so they engage in rape culture by assuming the innocence of accused rapists and casting doubt on victims and their advocates. It is clear from their reaction that PSL would rather circle the wagons and focus on everything else but the rape allegations and the facts which brought the verdict of guilt.
PSL members accused RGA of “slandering a comrade without evidence”. They never asked for evidence confidentially or attempted to begin an independent investigation, instead insisting advocates make all evidence public, which would compromise the identity of the survivor. They think they have avoided any responsibility on their part to investigate one of their members. Material provided in confidence will not be made public; the charges against McKinley have been thoroughly investigated, the evidence thoroughly examined, and Forbes has been found guilty. Should PSL wish to actually investigate they would likely agree, but they wish only to claim that Forbes is innocent without second thought.
Instead of addressing the situation properly, they are so wrapped up in their own postmodernism and pathetic approach to the question of gendered violence and rape that they throw charges of transmisogyny at RGA and other organizations that stand against them. In doing so, they pursue their only platform to try and blindly refute the charges. The shallow and transparent rape apologism from PSL members, while unsurprising considering their bourgeois class stand, should be seen as nothing less. Stonewall Militant Front stands by RGA and we encourage those with questions regarding the content of the statement to get in touch with us and engage with the content instead of simply discarding it or, even worse, deeming the accusations against Forbes false. All claims of transmisogyny by Forbes, PSL, and others loyal to them are rooted in ideas that are metaphysical and unscientific, and are being used as nothing more than deflections to steer attention away from the fact that McKinley Forbes is a rapist. Let us be very clear, even though we do not consider her a comrade, no one came to this verdict lightly or casually. The survivor has provided ample evidence and interviews, all of which have been shown to SMF leaders by RGA. Time was even taken beforehand to inform the survivor of the decision to go public and her blessing was received. This organization and its members are simply so lacking in either sound politics or care for the people of Austin they allow their dislike for other organizations to guide their actions. Because they dislike the organizations making the claims against Forbes, she is automatically absolved in their eyes. They attack the form and ignore the essence. They speak without investigating only to put their feet in their mouths.
Because of this, we determined that we must help expel PSL from our city, including by confronting them at their People’s Congress of Resistance event on Wednesday. PSL will never even co-host so much as a potluck in our city without it being disrupted and confronted. If they want space, they will have to hire the police and security to try to keep us out.
As a revolutionary LGBT organization which upholds proletarian feminism, it is our duty to fight against enemies of the LGBT community, women, and the working class alike – of which McKinley Forbes is all three. It is our duty to make sure the people’s justice is seen and that no rapists feel safe in our community. We wish to embody the call put forward by Red Guards Austin. We seek to confront Forbes anywhere she may rear her head. This is why we took immediate action and stood with members of the Austin LGBT community against PSL at their event.
Comrades and community members entered the event to shut it down. The poorly attended event was easily overtaken. Comrades destroyed PSL propaganda and hurt their ability to recruit potential victims into their rotten organization. During the demonstration, comrades spoke with the owner of the Big Easy Bar and Grill: The Original New Orleans Po-Boy and Gumbo Shop, which was where the event was held. He requested that the protest be moved across the street, which we were happy to respect. We made it clear that we were not there to protest the restaurant/bar. This established good faith relations between us and the management, who, after hearing about why we were there, sided with the community and swiftly ended the event, kicking PSL to the curb. After the cowardly PSL members tucked their tails between their legs and ran away, comrades spoke more with members of the east 12th street community about what we were doing there. They met us with full support. For this we would like to show our support for Big Easy and express gratitude to the community for standing with us. We encourage the support and patronage of the Big Easy and other black-owned businesses which remain on east 12th street.
To the Party for Socialism and Liberation, you have been given your options. If you continue to choose to defend rapist scum, you can expect to receive more of the same treatment. The people of Austin don’t need the worthless garbage you’re peddling.
To McKinley Forbes, you are a parasite, a revisionist, a rapist, and a coward. You are an enemy of the people and an enemy of the LGBT community and you will be treated as such. You are not welcome in Austin and we will continue to spread your story to every corner of this city. There is a target on your back and there is no limit to the power of the people. Seek accountability for your actions and submit to changing or face the fact that you will never have a moment’s peace.
This successful shutdown was a victory not only for women and the LGBT community, but for all of Austin, with the added bonus of building ties between the organizations present and the community. Thank you to Big Easy, RSF, and all those who came to support survivors and keep rapists out!