"IDEA" - Op-ed
Antifa, a decentralized political movement comprised of multiple autonomous groups scattered throughout cities in America that enact militant-style protests in opposition of their perspective of fascism and overall right-wing ideology, has been growing even more unchecked and virtually unchallenged.
Over the summer the notorious death of “George Floyd,” who died during an altercation with police officer Derek Chauvin, during the coronavirus pandemic resulted in dozens upon dozens of violent outbursts by members of the Antifa movement.
For around seven months, 23 people would be killed in shootings, 700+ officers would be injured, 150+ federal buildings would be damaged, hundreds of small businesses would be destroyed, and fires would be scorched in multiple cities alongside BLM. At the height of it, Antifa along with help from BLM supporters secured a six-block radius in Seattle and proceeded to kick out police and anybody with opposing ideology. Crime was ultimately inevitable given the absence of law enforcement. Control of the blocks would be regained after a period exceeding twenty days.
Another autonomous zone, known as the “George Floyd Autonomous Zone,” has been established in Minneapolis while Derek Chauvin is on trial. Police and people with conflicting beliefs were removed. Ironically a local’s nephew was shot and she believes that had the police been able to be there, her nephew could have been alive.
No matter political affiliation violence should be condemned. A common belief among people on both aisles. However, what’s ironic is that the attention and focus on the majority of violent riots that are perpetrated by these groups associated with the left are rarely discussed or heavily condemned with the severity that instances on the right are.
However, this article is not a breakdown of hypocrisy, whataboutism, debunking the narratives of these groups, or even trying to decide which side is correct based on its interpretation of logic. No. This is about how Antifa continues to vandalize federal and privately owned property, pose a risk to the viability of law enforcement and civilians of America, while our President and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation think it is just an “idea,” and how our Attorney General of the Department of Justice, who was selected by Biden, believes that attacks on a federal building don not constitute domestic terrorism based off of his personal definition.
An “idea” that just so happened to organize violent outbursts in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles in the same night, with Marxist logos painted on makeshift shields, and a flag with an Antifa logo that has been seen in multiple other Antifa protests in multiple different cities. An “idea” that just so happens to have arrested members’ bail paid by front organizations on a consistent basis so that they can be released only to wreak havoc again and again.
To properly address this let’s look at the claim.
“Antifa is an idea, not an organization, not militias” - President Joe Biden
“It’s not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology” - FBI Director Chris Wray
Now let’s breakdown Antifa to see why it may be a little more than an “idea.” Members of this “ideology” have a logo, a symbol, a motive, recruiters, organized plans, chants, communication channels, cadences, financial support, and militant preparation. A movement or ideology would in theory not have this level of organized thought and action. Take a look at the pictures below from the Los Angeles riot on Saturday.
While this riot was happening there were riots at the same time in Seattle and Portland. This is too ornate to be just an “idea,” it’s too organized, thought out, and planned.
Let’s try to understand the infrastructure of Antifa even more. In January, Twitter suspended four accounts with alleged ties to Antifa with more than 71,000 followers in total. We know they have a large number of sympathizers with their cause and those were just the accounts big enough to be suspended. Let’s take a look at Discord chats between John Sullivan, an Antifa-tied activist, and what can be reasonably presumed as unidentified members of Antifa discussing tactics and how to combat police counter riot measures.
One user stated how, “when you are a well known organizer you need to blend in.” This was pertaining to how John Sullivan went undercover during the Capitol Hill riot on January 6th, keyword “organizer.” This is just one minute example from the waiting sea of evidence out there. A few years ago CRTV host Stephen Crowder and his producer infiltrated a pocket of Antifa and uncovered what could have been a potentially violent plot before a Ben Shapiro event at the University of Utah.
“Why did it take a late-night podcast host and his producer to do this kind of journalism?” Mr. Crowder asks in a YouTube video uploaded Thursday. “Cryptic messaging apps, private groups handing out illegal weapons and planning tactics — you mean to tell me that no one at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN with billions of dollars in resources could have done this?”
The most concerning aspect of Antifa is their potency. The following images show weapons and materials that were confiscated from detained Antifa rioters in Portland on Friday.
Antifa is not an organization in the same way that ISIS is not an organization. Antifa is a shadow conglomerate and domestic terrorist group. Their riots are pre-planned through multiple organizations such as the Youth Liberation Front. They have pre-practiced counter riot control measures, communication networks through mainstream social media and alternatives such as Discord, a purpose to enforce their political ideology through violence, intimidation, and the destruction of private and federal property, and they have random obscure financial organizations that post bail for members when they are arrested.
A notable instance worthy of discussion is the ex-military man who referred to himself as, “100% ANTIFA."
Michael Forest Reinoehl was investigated regarding the shooting of, Aaron Danielson, a member of the Patriot Prayer group who was killed in Oregan. He stated in a social media post that, “I am 100 % ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters!” He was given a date to appear in court later that month, but the allegations were dropped.
This sparks up the inefficiency of cities in combatting Antifa. Out of more than a thousand arrests reported by the Portland Police Bureau and other local law enforcement from May 2020 to January 2021, only about 8.4% of cases are still open with the rest being dismissed or listed as no complaint, according to court records.
Angela Todd, cofounder of the Coalition to Save Portland stated that,"it seems to be that you can almost get away with anything in this city, and this is what we're not OK with."
Todd also discussed how people in the neighborhood have been threatened with firearms, and harassed to the point where they're afraid to speak out in fear of retaliation.
Now the next question. Is Antifa actually a domestic terrorist organization? According to Biden’s Attorney General, their attacks on federal property are not.
“Well senator, my own definition, which is about the same as the statutory definition, is the use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt the democratic processes. So an attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism. An attack simply on a government property at night or any other circumstances is a clear crime and a serious one and should be punished. I don't know enough about the facts of the example you’re talking about, but that’s where I draw the line. One is—both are criminal, one is a core attack on our democratic institutions.” -Attorney General Merrick Garland.
So because federal property was strategically attacked at night, while there were no federal processes happening in it, by a militant group inspired by their political motive, it does not constitute domestic terrorism according to his definition. Why did the Attorney General use his definition and not the statutory definition? Let’s take a look at that and see if we can label Antifa and their actions as domestic terrorism.
Under 18 U.S. Code § 2331USA Patriot Act, the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
Antifa riots have violated many criminal laws of the US such as destruction of federal property and assaults on law enforcement and civilians.
(B)appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
Antifa have surrounded civilians dining outside demanding for them to shout their cadences.
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
They have asked for the defunding and abolishment of local law enforcement by vandalizing private and federal property.
(iii)to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
As Derek Chauvin is currently on trial an Antifa faction has set up an autonomous zone in Minneapolis and has kicked out police and civilians with conflicting beliefs from the area.
(C)occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States; and
Antifa has rioted throughout the country in multiple different cities.
In conclusion, Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization, and our President’s and FBI Director’s verbal tip-toeing around antagonizing the group and statements downplaying and essentially ignoring their violence puts the American people suffering at the hands of this unresolved destruction in a position to ask unfortunate questions. Are our current leaders avoiding addressing Antifa out of incompetence, cowardice, or something much more concerning? Most importantly, when are our mayors, representatives, senators, and governors gonna step up and actually do something more to stop this? When are public servants gonna stand up and call for this destruction to at least be addressed for what it is? As of now, whatever they are doing is clearly not working and it’s starting to look like they have turned their backs on their communities and law enforcement. This has gone on for too long now. When will it end?