What is Antifa and should we be worried?

Takeaways:

Antifa is

  • Not an organization.
  • Not at the protests.
  • Not coming to your town on a bus.

Antifa is

  • An ideology committed to fighting back against violent fascist extremists.
  • Willing to clash and fight, but not with guns or other deadly weapons.

Q1. What is Antifa?

Antifa stands for anti-fascist.

It is an ideology committed to countering fascism, especially by showing up to protest when Neo-Nazis and other racist, fascist extremists get together publicly. They sometimes yell or get into fistfights with members of fascist groups.

Antifa sometimes overlaps with Anarchists, but they are not the same. Antifa doesn’t attack police.

Q2. Is Antifa a well-funded organization?

No.

Antifa isn’t an organization at all. There is no leader, structure, or hierarchy. There is no bank account. It’s like people who are fans of a style or band. They are just a group of people with an ideology in common. So Antifa isn’t funded at all. There’s nothing to fund.

Q3. What role has Antifa played in the George Floyd protests?

None.

While it is a common right-wing talking point that anarchists and Antifa are behind violent riots, there is absolutely no documentary evidence that any Antifa have participated, let alone been violent. We have been searching and reaching out to various news outlets and monitors and while the rumors are many the evidence is non-existent.

NPR reviewed court documents of 51 people facing federal charges in connection with the protests. As of June 9th, none is alleged to have links to the Antifa movement. We looked hard for any credible reports of Antifa activity and could not find any. We found Facebook rumors, but not a single police report, journalist report or citizen documentation.

Q4. Is Antifa threatening towns and suburbs?

No.

There have been a LOT of rumors in a lot of states that this is happening. It isn’t true. There are no busses, and Antifa does not carry arms. They are uninterested in you or your town unless you are a member of a Neo-nazi, confederate or other fascist group. Even then, they don’t just show up unless these groups are holding some kind of rally. When they engage, it’s hand to hand, with an occasional rock or water bottle thrown into the mix. There are a range of people who identify as Antifa, but as a group, they don’t do guns.

This rumor has been seen in Illinois, Oregon, Idaho, California and elsewhere. In some cases locals have banded together with militias to protect themselves. Some believe they have frightened the invaders away. But there is not one tiny bit of evidence that there was ever a threat to begin with.

We understand these rumors seem real and very scary — but that’s why they stick. People want to blame left-wing extremists for the protests instead of overwhelming support for Black Lives Matter. They want you to think they are violent. Most of the violence has been police initiated. These rumors are compelling enough that even some law enforcement have warned people of them, saying they do not know if they are true.

6. Is Antifa a terrorist group?

No.

No one calling themselves has ever killed anyone in U.S., or threatened innocent people for political purposes. (During World War II, people in Europe who called themselves Antifa did kill some Nazis. US Antifa is pretty far removed from that historical group.)

The definition of a terrorist group is a bit vague, and there’s no official definition of a domestic terror group. But Antifa isn’t an organization or group. They aren’t armed, and they only threaten Fascists who are threatening others. They do not act like terrorists.

They have shown up as protesters, and counter-protesters. People who identify as Antifa have been responsible for vandalism and property damage, and some assaults against extremists at rallies — none inflicting critical injuries. They have been known to “dox” or publish identifying information about members of Neo-Nazi or other fascist groups.

References and where to learn more:

BBC: Seven things you need to know about Antifa

New Yorker: An Intimate History of Antifa

Antidefamation Leage: Who are Antifa?

Washington Post: False claims of antifa protesters plague small U.S. cities

Business Insider: FBI ‘has no intelligence’ indicating antifa was linked to weekend violence in the George Floyd protests, despite Trump and Republicans’ claims

NPR: No Sign Of Antifa So Far In Justice Department Cases Brought Over Unrest

Atlanta Journal: FBI finds no evidence of Antifa’s involvement in national unrest

The Guardian: Rightwing vigilantes on armed patrol after fake rumours of antifa threat

The New York Times: Many Claim Extremists Are Sparking Protest Violence. But Which Extremists?

Wikipedia: Notable Antifa actions

The Anti-Fascist Handbook

Note — this is long history of Antifa with a lot of philosophy. It has an obvious sympathy with Antifa, but describes them as largely non-violent, although willing to engage when provoked. Their intent is to respond to fascists who intimidate people through violence by being similarly intimidating in response.

realityteam

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