From the beginning, a core value of the Timbers Army, the Rose City Riveters, and the 107IST has been that we are unquestionably and vocally an anti-fascist and anti-racist organization. We have never — and will never — tolerate discrimination or bias for any reason. We believe in acceptance, understanding, inclusion, and love. You can read about our central beliefs in this blog post, which we posted after the MLS Code of Conduct was released. We firmly repeat: The fight for human rights is not a political one.
The Independent Supporters Council and supporters groups around the world share these values, and we are aligned in working together to combat prejudice and oppression.
As a vocal stance against fascism, we began displaying banners with the Iron Front logo in 2017 (although some also made appearances as far back as 2011 and the USL days before that). The Iron Front logo has stood as a symbol of the fight against persecution and fascism since World War II. Originally designed to symbolize the resistance against Nazi rise, it now stands primarily for the fight against all oppression. With the recent rise in targeted attacks against so many groups — LBTGQ+, immigrants, women, religious groups, and more — and the presence of fascists in our stadiums, this symbol represents our firm stance of combating hatred in soccer, our communities, and our world.
We have been working with the Timbers/Thorns Front Office for several months on the Iron Front symbol — what it stands for and how important its meaning is in these times. The FO stands by our beliefs, and they have agreed that we may use the words anti-racism and anti-fascist in our displays.
However, in conjunction with MLS, the FO has decided that this particular image is not to be used in any signage at Providence Park going forward, including Thorns and T2. What follows is a letter the 107IST board received last week, clarifying this policy.
(Ed.: Small, clarifying additions are noted in brackets.)
The 107IST is relaying the following message to our own supporters as well as fellow supporters groups in other cities.
Providence Park Iron Front Signage Policy
Following last night’s meeting [May 14] we want to close the loop on the Iron Front dialogue with a clear written message you can share with the TA.
No Iron Front symbology will be allowed in Providence Park during Timbers, Thorns or T2 games. This rule includes any creative “work-arounds” like we saw in Vancouver this past Friday [May 10] and any Iron Front-based clearly organized displays that make a public statement. Due to the extensive dialogue on this issue and subsequent breaches of trust in Vancouver and in other media, We will be enforcing strict punishments for any violations of this rule out of the gate, starting with multi-game bans for violators.
The question was asked last night “if its Iron Front now, what next?” The answer there is simple: any signage that’s political or fails to comply with the MLS Supporter Code of Conduct, which is now clearly spelled out. And while the Iron Front is not specifically cited in the Code of Conduct it is unequivocally prohibited by the league.
With the bottom-line regarding the Iron Front out of the way, here is some very important context behind the issue that everyone should understand:
Even in the context of the new Supporter Code of Conduct guidelines, there is still a fair amount of local discretion teams can apply, something we personally fought very hard to ensure. The Timbers have always been the most lenient of any club in the league in allowing freedom of expression from its supporters. To that end we advocated very hard to the league to allow signs stating “Anti-Fascist” (the very spirit of the Iron Front prior to its antifia appropriation) would be acceptable and, furthermore, allowed the 107ist/TA to publicly communicate that to the ISC. The same applies to public denouncement of racism etc.
The reasoning behind why the Iron Front symbol is unacceptable is as follows:
- The Iron Front symbol has been clearly appropriated and linked to the antifa movement, and sometimes in a context of violence. There is no question that antifa and its current rise is why some in the TA suddenly have decided to use the Iron Front…if not why wouldn’t anti-fascist be ok?
- Symbols of politics are exclusionary and antithetical to the inclusive TA and Timbers ethos
- There are some added security concerns waving antifa symbols pose to all fans
- We have received many complaints about the Iron Front from fans who are clearly anti-fascist but feel uncomfortable with antifa imagery in their sporting experience for all the reasons stated above
We know better than anyone that the beautiful game can be a conduit for positive change in society. But we also fully agree that the Stadium should be a politics-free zone. Team, Town & TA. We believe that the end approach to the Iron Front and the dialogue that lead us there have been reasonable.
We hope this clarifies the issue. As we often say, we won’t always agree but we will always be open, honest and respectful. We have rarely drawn lines in the sand. We have a track record of being cooperative and working with the TA on a variety of potentially divisive issues that together we have resolved in a positive and peaceful way. It is our sincere hope that this is another case of just that.
For almost 10 years the Timbers and the 107ist have had a tremendous mutually beneficial relationship. We recognize the 107ist are volunteers and are deeply grateful for your service and all that TA does in support of the club we all love.
The 107IST board disagrees with this decision, but we felt it our duty to inform our members of this change. We will continue our work with the league and the Front Office on addressing the presence of hate in our stadiums and our communities.