Philadelphia Anti-Capitalist Group Claims Responsibility for Violent Attack Near University Campus

September 3, 2020 Updated: September 3, 2020

A far-left extremist group has claimed responsibility for a spree of violence that occurred near the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) campus last week, inflicting “extensive damages” to school buildings, businesses, and a police vehicle.

According to the UPenn’s Division of Public Safety, a group of approximately 60 people, all dressed in black and wearing black masks, gathered at 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 25 in a park next to the university campus. The group then proceed to build barricades, smash windows, paint graffiti, and harass passersby before heading back to the park, where they eventually dispersed.

Hours after the violent attacks occurred, a post was published on a blog called the Philly Anti-Capitalist, a self-proclaimed “anti-authoritarian” organization. “Solidarity with Kenosha, WI demo was more impressive than usual,” the group wrote. “Escalation started right away and continued as a group of over 45 people marched through the streets chanting and smashing windows of banks, business and developments. There was a surprising amount of destruction. There was a surprising amount of destruction.”

“There was good communication, barricading, and improvisation,” the post continued, praising the “collective intelligence” of the group. “Folks caught and lost a police tail and dispersed smoothly due to barricades and quick decision making all the while staying level headed and tight in stressful moments.”

“We really appreciate everyone who showed up and their energy! The more we do this, the better we get!” the group said, adding that it stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement and “everyone consistently turning up and inspiring us,” while also wishing Jacob Blake “get better.” Blake, a sexual assault suspect, was seriously injured on Aug. 23 when a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot him seven times as he resisted arrest and leaned into his car—triggering riots in the city.

UPenn’s Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush told student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian that the campus police is working closely with Philadelphia Police Department in an effort to identify the people who carried out the violence.

“These are not protesters. They are anarchists, they are Antifa. That is how they identify themselves,” Rush said of the group. While it is not immediately clear about the relationship between Philly Anti-Cap and Philly Antifa, the two apparently bear similarities in terms of anarcho-communist ideology, the so-called “black bloc” dressing style and tactics, and social justice goals. A number of articles sympathetic to Antifa activities can also be found in the Anti-Cap blog.

Rush told The Daily Pennsylvanian that her department is fully staffed and is preparing for similar attempts to damage school property. “We are gearing up in case they try this again,” she said.