Short for “anti-fascists,” Antifa is not a single organization but rather an umbrella term for far left-leaning militant groups that confront or resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.
Antifa members campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic.
There is no hierarchical structure to antifa or universal set of tactics that makes its presence immediately recognizable, though members tend to espouse revolutionary and anti-authoritarian views, said Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers University and author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
Antifa aims to “intimidate and dissuade racists,” but its aggressive tactics including physical confrontations can create “a vicious, self-defeating cycle of attacks, counter-attacks and blame,” the ADL said.
The FBI has been increasingly concerned about violence perpetrated by Antifa at public events, according to a 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research arm of the US Congress.
Antifa grew in notoriety following a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, organized by white supremacists and white nationalists who clashed violently with counter-protesters. Trump drew criticism afterward when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” and blamed “many sides” for the violence. Trump specifically mentioned Antifa.
“You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything,” Trump said of Antifa days after the rally.
Trump and members of his administration have even singled out Antifa as being responsible for the violence at protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.
Attorney General William Barr had described “Antifa-like tactics” by out-of-state agitators and said Antifa was instigating violence and engaging in “domestic terrorism” and would be dealt with accordingly.
But it’s unclear how big its involvement really is.
Bray said Antifa groups often use tactics similar to anarchist groups, such as dressing in all black and wearing masks. The groups also have overlapping ideologies, as both often criticize capitalism and seek to dismantle structures of authority, including police forces.
It is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members. Its followers acknowledge that the movement is secretive, has no official leaders and is organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past few years to oppose the far right.
Although Antifa is not affiliated with other movements on the left – and is sometimes viewed as a distraction by other organizers – its members sometimes work with other local activist networks that are rallying around the same issues, such as the Occupy movement or Black Lives Matter.
Donald Trump has said that Washington will designate Antifa as a “terrorist organization.” However, the president hasn’t specified how or when he intends to do that.
It’s not the first time he’s endorsed that approach. Trump expressed a similar sentiment last summer, joining some Republican lawmakers in calling for Antifa to be designated as a terror organization after the skirmishes in Portland.
Antifa is not a discrete or centralized group, so it’s unclear how the government could give it a designation.
Beyond that, though, Antifa is a domestic entity and, as such, not a candidate for inclusion on the State Department’s list of foreign terror organizations. Those groups, which include Islamic extremist organizations and the Real Irish Republican Army, are based overseas rather than in the US.
Source From : Times Of India