During a press conference on Aug. 15, President Donald Trump denounced the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and the group of anarchist communists known as Antifa. Many Americans likely don’t know very much about the third of these groups, the Antifa.
Trump’s comments were in reaction to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group that included white supremacists came to protest the tearing down of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protests turned violent when members of Antifa showed up with weapons, and a female protester was killed after a man with alleged Nazi views drove his car into the crowd.
On Aug. 14, Trump stated, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted on Twitter that the violence may have been avoidable. A statement posted to its website said: “We asked the city to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and ensure people’s safety at the protest. It failed to do so. In our system, the city makes the rules and the courts enforce them. Our role is to ensure that the system works the same for everyone.”
The ACLU noted that the way police barricades were set up left a “lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters.” It had warned the city ahead of time that this contributed to the “potential of violence.”
It stated the city “did not respond” to the warning. “In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place,” the ACLU said, “so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area.”
Trump described the incident during the Aug. 15 press conference, stating, “You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.”
He added, however, that it was the Antifa protesters who appeared to initiate the violence. He said, “There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You have just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.”
A recent poll by NPR, PBS, and Marist found that 71 percent of respondents are unsure or have no opinion about whether they agree with Antifa, a response indicating widespread ignorance about what the Antifa is.
Antifa is listed as an “Anarchist Extremist” organization by New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. It states the group is known for “inciting violence toward far-right extremists.” It places the group under its category of domestic terrorist threats.
There are calls to list Antifa as a terrorist organization in several countries, including in Australia where a Change.org petition with 7,567 signatures notes the organization has been “wreaking havoc” across the country.
A similar change.org petition with 94,760 signatures requests that Antifa be named a terrorist organization by the United States. It notes that Antifa fits under the definition of a terrorist organization, in its “use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror or fear, in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim.”
Antifa has a history of using violence as a tool of political suppression and intimidation, and supports a blend of anarchist and communist ideologies. Communist regimes over the last century have been responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people.
Some groups have noted that the mainstream media often categorizes any protest that doesn’t align with the alt-left’s progressive agenda as being done by “Nazi sympathizers,” and Antifa uses this categorization to justify its violence.
For instance, the organizers of the planned “#MarchOnGoogle” to protest Google’s “anti-free speech monopoly” issued a statement postponing the event and complaining of how their protest had been treated by the media.
“Despite our clear and straightforward statements denouncing bigotry and hatred, CNN and other mainstream media made malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazi sympathizers,” the group said. The event was postponed, because of “credible Alt Left terrorist threats for the safety of our citizen participants.”
While placing conservatives under the blanket label of “Nazis,” several far-left mainstream news outlets have at the same time covered for Antifa by either not mentioning them in their news reports, or by simply referring to them as “anti-Nazi protesters.”
In its glowing Aug. 14 explainer on “What is Antifa,” CNN reports that in Berkeley the group had used Molotov cocktails and smashed windows, and then quotes Antifa organizer Scott Crow as saying destruction of public property “does not equate to violence.” Crow also claims the group’s violent attacks are “a means of self-defense.”
Crow justifies Antifa causing conflict and shutting right wing groups down “where they are” as opposing racism and fascism. CNN does not ask what the Antifa criteria are for attacking others whom the group disagrees with.
A Yahoo! News piece from Aug. 14 takes Antifa’s claims that it opposes authoritarian or fascist groups at face value and does not report any critical response to the group. Yahoo! describes Antifa’s conflicts with others as part of “the modern battle between antifa and racists.” The piece includes a video meme of white supremacist Richard Spencer getting punched by an Antifa member and various tweets expressing pleasure at seeing Spencer get hit.