What Is Redneck Revolt? These Left-wing Activists Protect Minorities With Guns

A member of a leftist pro-gun group called Redneck Revolt openly carries his firearm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Getty Images

The word redneck is typically used to insult a white person from a poor, rural background, a demographic that tends to be politically conservative. But now a group of far-left activists is reclaiming the word and using it to spark a working-class movement that promotes social justice and protects minorities.

Redneck Revolt's website says it aims to put "the red back in redneck," a reference to the use of the color red to represent communists and other members of the far left.

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Similar to the grassroots vigilantes who attended the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past summer, members of Redneck Revolt can often be found at protests armed to the teeth. But instead of protecting far-right white supremacists, members of Redneck Revolt provide protection for minority groups such as Black Lives Matter and other groups fighting for equality and justice.

They are a national network of community defense projects that, unlike many people on the left, advocate for the right to bear arms. Since the group was founded in 2016, around 45 branches of Redneck Revolt have emerged in more than 30 U.S. states, the group says. Their aim is to respond to the upsurge in extremist rhetoric and violence coming from white supremacist groups over the past year.

A member of a leftist pro-gun group called Redneck Revolt openly carries his firearm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Getty Images

"The current political environment has seen armed militias intimidating people as they go into their mosques to pray, violent white nationalists attacking people in the street, Nazis openly calling for genocide all across the country, and political wavering around whether white nationalism is a defensible political ideology," the group said in a press release sent to Newsweek.

It went on, "Redneck Revolt members recognize how real the threats of violence have become because of the friends and loved ones they've already lost, and they organize in community defense as both an obligation and a commitment to defend each other."

But the organization isn't only focused on guns. It also aims to bring members of the working class together across racial divides. Its activities include clothing drives, potlucks, farming and gardening, as well as providing training in safety and survival.

"[Redneck Revolt] is a pro-worker, anti-racist organization that focuses on working-class liberation from the oppressive systems which dominate our lives," the group said.

"The word redneck has always been used pejoratively, but we don’t see it that way. We look at our grandfathers,... https://t.co/8GN1V9oIem

— Redneck Revolt (@RedneckRevolt) December 5, 2017

It also claims to have members representing a variety of political ideologies, including libertarians, anarchists, communists and independents. But the members share the goal of countering the growth of white supremacist movements and building solidarity among diverse members of the working class and the poor.

In an open letter the group uses for recruitment, Redneck Revolt asks working-class white people to consider the minorities who often work beside them and reflect on their shared interests.

"Redneck Revolt believes that real working-class solidarity will come from working alongside each other in person and in our everyday lives, not in the sterile conversations of privilege in college classrooms, or in the phony hand-wringing of politicians," the group said.

To stop white nationalists from recruiting working-class people for their movements, members of Redneck Revolt visit gun shows, flea markets, state fairs, NASCAR races and cattle shows where white supremacist organizations are known to look for new members.

A right-wing militia group attempts to do security for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. The Unite the Right rally instigated brawls between members of the far right and various leftists. Getty Images

"We focus on counter-recruitment of other working-class people against white supremacist and white nationalist organizations, through direct outreach in places where working-class folks are already being targeted," the group said.