President Trump on Sunday said he would designate Antifa as a “terrorist organization” after Democratic and Republican officials blamed it and other extremist groups for the violence that occurred alongside protests over the killing of George Floyd.
The Justice Department will be “apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law,” said AG William Barr.
“Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed,” added Barr. “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”
Others within the Justice Department warned that labeling a US-based group a “terrorist organization” may end up violating Americans’ First Amendment rights.
The First Amendment gives Americans the right to say whatever they want, no matter how controversial, but that right is not extended to terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaida.
This same concern was voiced last year when Democratic lawmakers pushed to designate certain white supremacist groups as “terrorist organizations” following the shooting in El Paso, Texas.
What is Antifa?
Antifa (short for anti-fascist) is a loose network of left-wing activists that aims to take down any person they deem fascist. The group is known for using physical violence to accomplish its goals.
Antifa’s members are self-described anarchists and communists who fall outside the traditional liberal-conservative spectrum. They have no allegiance to liberal democracy, which they believe has failed the communities they seek to defend.
In most cases, once Antifa feels that it has subdued or eliminated a local threat, the group disbands and returns to its normal activities (environmentalism, organizing unions, etc.).
Some Democrats support Antifa even though the movement does not support the Democratic Party.
Minnesota Attorney General and former US Representative Keith Ellison (D) is a known Antifa supporter who has been photographed spending time with Luis Enrique Marquez, a prominent Antifa member with a criminal record.
Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press” last week, Ellison avoided blaming the recent violence on Antifa and said it is impossible to know who is responsible:
“I talked to people who were demonstrating, they say they think some of those folks are from Minnesota. And they also say some people have come from out of town. What the exact political motivation is unclear at this point. We need to investigate it.”
Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, was sworn into office on a Quran after refusing a Bible. He has urged Islamists and Antifa to attend violent riots to stop Trump at any cost. Antifa is typically present at rallies organized by Ellison and his Democratic colleagues.
Author’s Note: The Department of Homeland Security categorized Antifa’s actions as “domestic terrorist violence” in 2016. The following year, more than 300,000 Americans signed a petition to designate the group a terror organization based on its violent actions. That same year, the FBI launched an investigation into Antifa’s alleged connection to ISIS.
In 2019, Republican senators introduced a measure designed to do the same thing.
It is high time Antifa be treated based on the way it acts: like a terror cell plotting harm to the United States.