Antifa, the extreme far-left group at the heart of much of the violence seen during protests and marches across the country, is becoming more violent and more extreme.
After being pushed back at the Berkeley, Calif., pro-Trump, pro-free-speech rally on April 15, some members of the “anti-fascist” group are calling for training and weapons.
Antifa stands for “anti-fascist action.” It didn’t begin as a group, but as tactics and practices used as confrontational responses to authoritarianism and intolerant views or practices. These began in the early 20th century in Germany when intolerant ideas, or fascism, were on the rise in Italy.
With a militant left-wing and anarchist ideology, Antifa models itself after groups that engaged in street fights with Nazi’s in the 1930s.
The Urban Dictionary humorously defines Antifa as “Anti-capitalistic, anti-personal freedom (unless you agree with them) anti-spiritual, anti-point.”
Members of the group take themselves very seriously, however. They aren’t attending rallies in peaceful opposition. The group is militant. During the University of California, Berkeley rally, Antifa thugs used mace, M80s (powerful firecrackers, originally made by the U.S. military to simulate explosives) thrown into crowds of Trump supporters, and various objects such as a bike U-locks to attack pro-Trump attendees.
On April 9, an Antifa group “resorted to shoving onlookers [and] threatening them with violence” at an anti-war protest in front of the White House, according to an anti-war protester, Lucian Wintrich, who attended the event. He said, “[The] Antifa mob shifted the atmosphere from one of peaceful demonstration to violence.”
In Cologne, Germany, Antifa militants injured at least two police officers and torched a squad car to shut down a party convention for the anti-mass immigration Alternative for Germany (AFD) on April 22.
“Fascism is imbued with violence and secures itself politically through the use or threat of it, so it is inevitable that anti-fascists have to countenance some involvement in violence themselves,” says M. Testa, author of “Militant Anti-Fascism: A Hundred Years of Resistance.”
“Anyone who tries to hold any sort of right-wing event literally gets beat up by militant communists in the street,” said Lauren Southern, an independent journalist present at a pro-Trump Berkeley rally.
Acting in self-defense, the Trump supporters and pro-free speech attendees held their ground.
“Eventually, the Trump supporters had enough, gathered around, and chased the Antifa thugs out of Berkeley,” said a Trump supporter via the Facebook group “The Red Elephants.” He says Trump supporters will be fighting back and that they’re tired of being pushed around.
But Antifa members were dismayed by what they viewed as a failure.
In a post captured by Archive.is, Evolutionfire wrote, “The right was able to hold their own to a large degree against antifascists, in one of the most radical metropolitan areas in the country. They gave as good as they got, and they were able to keep a presence in the streets for hours … have only vowed to intensify their violence.”
After “serious reflection,” the writer says they can no longer revel in the “success of a clean punch to a Nazi’s face” and suggests they ” take a step back and ask what organizational steps can take place to stop this from happening again.”
In a reply post, an “anarchist” wrote, “A shocking number of our comrades went in there with absolute [sic] no combat training. We need to set up seminars or something of the sort.”
“Not getting disarmed is a big part of the problem, yes, but we need more than flags and bats,” wrote someone else in the r/anarchism subreddit community page. “We need to take notes from the John Brown Gun Club and get firearms and training. I know getting firearms in states and cities we have a presence in is usually a hassle, but even handguns would help.”
The writer believes having guns will have a psychological effect. “Who do you think a fascist is more afraid of? People with only flags and bats, or people with flags, bats, and guns?”
Lifezette reports that “some Antifa members have clearly had the same thought — that ‘flags and bats’ simply aren’t enough. Indeed the Antifa United web store temporarily sold an Antifa-branded concealed credit-card knife.”
Meanwhile, more people are seeing Antifa as something more than a militant group. The term “terrorist group” is coming up more and more, with good reason. According to Lifezette:
The Department of State, through U.S. Code Title 22, Chapter 38, defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
The U.S. Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce governments or societies” and notes that terrorism “is often motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political.”
One Donald Trump supporter, AJ Alegria, described how he was surrounded, pepper sprayed and beaten with sticks by a dozen black-clad activists. “These people create violence all the time … somebody has to stand up to them,” he said.
As the violence escalates, and with the threat of more dangerous weaponry, Antifa continues to justify its actions.
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