The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (often shortened to By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN) is a radical left-wing coalition linked with the Trotskyist Revolutionary Workers League created in 1995 in Berkeley, California. BAMN’s principles, adopted in 2000, say the organization is “dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action, integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.”
BAMN employs aggressive “militant” direct action and litigation to support its cause. BAMN protests of official government bodies have resulted in flipping tables and other disruptive outbursts. BAMN demonstrators have been arrested for inciting riots, throwing rocks at police, and destruction of property. BAMN has additionally been described as a “more radical” caucus within teachers unions.
Its efforts have been largely unsuccessful; in Michigan and California, voters supported initiatives to end affirmative action over BAMN’s strident opposition, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected BAMN’s legal arguments against the initiatives, upholding their constitutionality.
The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (or BAMN) is a militant, left wing political group that organizes demonstrations and litigation to achieve its political agenda.
BAMN was founded in Berkeley, California in 1995 by attorney Shanta Driver and fellow activist Luke Massie in response to a statewide proposal to ban race-based affirmative action in employment and higher education. Liberal observers have noted BAMN’s links to the Trotskyite Revolutionary Workers League (RWL). In a 2001 interview with the Michigan Daily, Massie said that BAMN was “partially initiated by the RWL”; he further asserted, “The Revolutionary Workers League is a Trotskyist organization of which I’m a member […] We [RWL] are proud to be part of a whole lot of struggles and to have played a role in the founding of BAMN.”
In 1997, BAMN expanded out of California and moved its headquarters to Michigan to fight the anti-affirmative-action efforts of affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly, who was campaigning against the practice in Michigan.
BAMN has been most active in California and Michigan; however, BAMN has also fought against initiatives in Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Structure and Funding
BAMN’s precise legal structure is unknown. The group describes itself as an independent organization composed of national organizers and volunteers and funded by member and community donations. The law firm of Scheff & Washington, P.C. (formerly Scheff, Washington, & Driver P.C.), for which Shanta Driver worked as of 2016, represents BAMN. The firm has also provided over $130,000 worth of in-kind assistance to Operation King’s Dream, a state political action committee which has joined BAMN in litigation against Michigan efforts to prohibit affirmative action by the state.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund (UEAALDF) is the tax-exempt affiliate of BAMN that coordinates BAMN’s legal defense, education, and administrative functions. BAMN and the UEAALDF share the same two leaders, Shanta Driver and Donna Stern (who has been identified as “National Coordinator” of BAMN in the group’s press statements). UEAALDF’s budget peaked at around $200,000 in 2003.
Left-Wing and Union Support
The pro-labor union newspaper In These Times described BAMN as “a student-teacher alliance that operates as a joint caucus within the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA).”
BAMN’s affiliated nonprofit UEAALDF indicates on its website that it has received financial contributions from the following left-wing organizations and people: the Ford Foundation, the Impact Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, Judge Gregory Mathis, the Kellogg Foundation, and Michigan Human Rights Campaign.
Additionally the UEAALDF purportedly has received financial support from a number of unions, including the Michigan Federation of Teachers, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the California Federation of Teachers, the San Francisco Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, the Michigan AFL-CIO, multiple AFSCME local unions, the United Auto Workers, International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1414, Movement For Justice, multiple Service Employees International Union local unions, United Steelworkers of America Local 295, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192.
As its name suggests, BAMN fights for its priorities “by any means necessary.” BAMN uses both litigation and “militant direct actions,” including rallies, protests, and petition drives, to fight for its agenda.
BAMN’s “no-wait, rough-and-ready tactics” have earned them multiple critics including teacher unionists, federal officials, and segments of the Left who view its brand of militancy as overly divisive. Some accuse BAMN of inciting physical violence or taking overly uncompromising stances.
During the 1990s, BAMN was accused of involvement in numerous violent protests, many of which led to arrests. In 1997, BAMN activists were charged with instigating violence and throwing 2-pound rocks at police officers.
Then in 1998, BAMN activist Jessica Curtin was arrested for rioting and malicious destruction of property and BAMN leaders Shanta Driver and Luke Massie were arrested for misdemeanor destruction of property.
This conduct continues today, in 2015, BAMN members engaged in violent clash with police at University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting that led to the arrest of numerous BAMN activists.
Then in June 2016, BAMN along with other radical leftist groups aligned with the far-left extremist Antifa movement led a group of 300 activists to demonstrate against a white supremacist rally in Sacramento. The rally never took place, and BAMN activist and Berkeley middle school teacher Yvette Felarca was charged with assault and rioting for her involvement in a riot that ended with numerous people injured, including some who reportedly required hospitalization.
BAMN played an active role in organizing the violent riots that caused the cancellation of a speech at UC Berkeley by far-right author Milo Yiannopoulos in February 2017. In April 2017, UC Berkeley cancelled a speech by right-wing author Ann Coulter due to threats of violent disruption by BAMN and other extremist leftist organizations.
BAMN recruits students and then puts students on the front lines of their political fights, where the students use intimidation and hostile tactics to try and influence decisions. In 2006, student demonstrators organized by BAMN shouted down officials and flipped over a table before the Michigan Canvassing Board voted to put an affirmative action measure on the ballot. The group also shut down a Detroit Public School board meeting using similar tactics in 2002. 
Michigan canvassing board member Chris Thomas said of the 2006 protest, ”Never before have I seen such absolutely incredible and unprofessional behavior from lawyers urging this disruption.”
BAMN has waged numerous courtroom fights for affirmative action with mixed outcomes. In two 2003 BAMN was involved in two Michigan cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the University of Michigan’s factoring of race in undergraduate admissions, but upheld a narrower law school policy that considered race.
In response to the rulings, Michigan voters in 2006 passed Proposal 2 to strike down all race-based affirmative action in the state. BAMN fought a legal battle to overturn Proposal 2 that ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against BAMN and upholding the law.
October-November 2018 Illegal Migrant Caravan
Also see Pueblo Sin Fronteras (Nonprofit)
On November 25, 2018, BAMN released a document implying that it helped organize the October migrant caravan (full document available here) from Central America partially organized by the open borders activist group Pueblo Sin Fronteras. BAMN accused the Trump administration of being “lawless and repressive.” 
Open it up or we’ll shut it down! Everyone must be let in! MEXICANS and AMERICANS stand with us!
The arrival of the migrant caravan at the Mexico-US border has proven once again that the tactic of the caravan is our best strategy for safely reaching the US. Although we have not reached the border without suffering the roughness of the trip and some of us suffering it more than others, united we have almost reached our goal of crossing to the US and have
set the example for thousands of our brothers and sisters that are now making their way in their own caravans through Mexico, while others prepare for the next caravan to take off.
. . .
We live in a daily joint struggle to survive in the US undocumented and we march side by side fighting for immigrant rights. We invite our Mexican brothers and sisters to join our caravan efforts to safely and promptly cross to the US.
The BAMN document called for the Democratic Party to demand the caravan be allowed to illegally cross the U.S. border: “The US midterm elections are over, there’s no reason why civil rights organizations and the Democratic Party apparatus should not be fiercely demanding open access across the border for the caravan and doing everything possible to stop Trump’s racist attacks on the caravan.” BAMN also encouraged Americans in San Diego, California, “to solidarize [sic] with the caravan [and], if are legally able, to get across the border to Mexico and help the caravan to cross the finish line as quickly as possible.”
Detroit School protests
In July 2020, the organization held protests at Detroit bus terminals to block buses from taking students to school. According to Benjamin Royal, a teacher and an organizer of the protests affiliated with By Any Means Necessary, the purpose of the event was to protect schools and local communities from the spread of COVID-19. As a member of the executive board of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, Royal claims that Detroit parents should not have the option of registering their children for in-person classes.
While 2000 Detroit children were registered to attend in-person summer-school classes, it was estimated that only 500 students made it to classes on the first day due to ongoing protests. Detroit is one of the largest districts in the United States that has planned to open schools for in-person classes for the summer and fall sessions. In the fall, the Detroit school district plans to allow high school students to attend school on alternate weeks, while students from Kindergarten to 8th grade must attend school in person every day.
According to Shanta Driver, the national director of By Any Mean Necessary, the organization sought to file a request for a preliminary injunction to halt all in-person classes in Detroit due to concerns that students, teachers, and school administrators could have been infected with COVID-19. 
March for Hakeem Littleton
In July 2020, members of the group organized protests in Detroit to address the death of Hakeem Littleton. Detroit police car dashboard cameras and body cameras reveal that while officers attempted to arrest a man with an outstanding warrant for a drug-related felony charge, Littleton fired a pistol at them. The officers returned fire at Littleton and he later died in a local hospital. 
By Any Mean Necessary posted a statement regarding the protests claiming that the police attacked the protesters and the protesters ultimately forced the police to retreat.The organization stated that the police officers who shot Littleton should be “charged with first degree murder and jailed immediately”. 
Policy Positions and Connected Organizations
In a 2006 “Declaration on Immigrant Rights,” BAMN proclaimed that “immigrant-bashers hanker for a return to the ‘white man’s republic’ and rejected the notion of American citizenship altogether, proclaiming that millions of illegal aliens should be recognized in the law as American citizens immediately.
As part of their labor movement, BAMN seeks to build an independent militant union to create stronger labor unions that include illegal immigrant workers and create “more union-wage-level jobs.” They also call for the use of public money to create unionized public jobs.
On education, BAMN opposes charter schools, “the privatization of public education,” and any fee or tuition hikes, layoffs, furloughs, or program cuts in public higher education.  It also opposes standardized testing, which it claims elevates certain racial and class privileges.
Alleged Ties to NAMBLA
BAMN has alleged ties to the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a now-essentially-defunct extremist organization advocating for sexual relations with minors and the abolition of age-of-consent laws through the Scheff and Washington law firm and the Revolutionary Workers League, which “played a role in the founding of BAMN.”
A BAMN attorney and partner at Scheff and Washington, Eileen Scheff, was described in materials published by NAMBLA as member of the organization. In 1991, according to documents held by the University of Michigan, Scheff wrote an article denouncing the “witch-hunt against NAMBLA.” Scheff wrote that the depiction of NAMBLA as “organization of child molesters is completely false,” and that children need “sex-positive, including gay positive, sex education beginning in kindergarten.” She ended the letter saying, “I call on all progressive people in the lesbian/gay community, in the women’s movement, and in the community at large to call for consensual sex regardless of age.”
Additionally, the documents showed that the Revolutionary Workers League, which BAMN co-founder Luke Massie said “played a role in the founding of BAMN,” worked directly with the NAMBLA in the years just before BAMN was founded.
NAMBLA’s November-December 1991 bulletin described how the Revolutionary Workers League participated in one of its conferences. It read, “Revolutionary Workers League is supportive of gay rights in general and NAMBLA in particular.”
The document noted that at the NAMBLA conference “a number of proposals were put forward by the Revolutionary Workers League.” Among those proposals adopted as positions by NAMBLA were “Abolish all age-based curfews” and “Children and youth must be provided non moralistic, explicit, sex-positive – including lesbian/gay positive – sex education that includes safe sex education. Condoms, latex barriers and contraceptives in appropriate smaller sizes must be distributed in all schools.”
Associations with Communists
BAMN has been associated with the Revolutionary Workers League, an extremist group associated with the Trotskyist movement within Communism. BAMN’s leaders insist that the group was created as separate from the Revolutionary Workers League.
In a 2001 interview with the Michigan Daily, BAMN activist Luke Massie said that BAMN was “partially initiated by the RWL.” Massie further asserted, “The Revolutionary Workers League is a Trotskyist organization of which I’m a member […] We [RWL] are proud to be part of a whole lot of struggles and to have played a role in the founding of BAMN.”
The fact that BAMN was created by a group of Revolutionary Workers League members and was represented by the RWL’s Detroit lawyer George Washington led to the criticism that was in fact merely a front group for the RWL, through which the Revolutionary Workers League used BAMN to introduce members to their extremist leftist agenda.