Activities that are likely to cause loss of life

There’s a campaign to save Europe.

Or rather, that’s what a group of far-right activists believe they’ll be doing in the coming days when they plan to set off in a 422-ton vessel with a 25-member crew from Sicily, hoping to block rescue boats saving the lives of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent months, European far-right groups have targeted the nongovernmental organization rescue efforts between Italy and Libya. At least 90,000 migrants and refugees — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — have crossed the route, and at least 2,300 have died, in 2017 so far. In May, far-right activists disrupted a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) search-and-rescue boat from disembarking at the Sicilian port of Catania. Then, on June 26, the activists announced they had obtained a vessel (called C-Star) and headed to Catania, where they hoped to “intervene” in NGO search-and-rescue missions during what they said would be a “summer of disturbances.”

You know, like the way activists used to go to sea to try to disrupt whalers. Or not so much like that as the inversion of that, since the activists then were trying to save whales while the activists now are trying to prevent people from saving drowning migrants.

Last Wednesday, Defend Europe activists were photographed spending time with Katie Hopkins, the British Mail Online columnist. Hopkins is best known for once describing refugees as “cockroaches” in a national newspaper and for being fired from her LBC radio show after calling for a “final solution.”

Ah yes Katie Hopkins, whom “Last Liberal” Dave Rubin boasted of interviewing yesterday.

But let’s be clear: Their aim to interfere with boats is completely illegal. The Defend Europe activists are paranoid, embroiled in chaos and have no real plan. They’re disguising themselves by wearing wigs because they believe the police are trailing them. What’s more, their boat has been held up in Cyprus, where its captain was arrested, allegedly over false documents.

In June, I boarded a rescue mission with MSF, one of the same boats the activists are hoping to stop. On board, many of the people who had been rescued had escaped indefinite detention in Libya, where conditions are described as “inhumane.” Others had fled forced labor, sexual violence and even modern-day slave markets. A few weeks earlier, activists had blocked one of MSF’s boats in Catania — the rescue team was not amused, but nor were its members threatened. Instead, they’ve grown weary: They want to get on with their work, not play games with people who are putting vulnerable people’s lives at risk.

Because of these “games,” Patreon dropped Lauren Southern.

Lauren Southern, a right-wing Canadian blogger and YouTuber who works with Generation Identity, said Patreon “essentially eviscerat[ed] the majority of my income” when the crowdfunding site banned her earlier this month. In a YouTube video uploaded July 21, Southern shows an email from Patreon that reads: “It appears you are currently raising funds in order to take part in activities that are likely to cause loss of life. We have therefore decided to remove your page.”

Southern was recently involved in a viral stunt obstructing a refugee search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean and had made plans to do it again on a larger scale. Jack Conte, a cofounder of Patreon, took to YouTube on July 28 to confirm and explain the decision. He said that Patreon’s trust and safety team judges accounts by their “manifest observable behavior … what a camera has seen, what an audio device has recorded.” He pointed to Southern’s video of herself directing her coconspirators to veer in front of a rescue ship and her plans for a second such excursion as evidence.

Of course she’s now being hailed as a martyr for free speech.

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