Who Is Antifa And Why Are They Associated With The Left

who is Antifa

The alt-right isn’t the only political group full of political extremists who use violence to make their point. Antifa, which is short for “anti-fascist” or “Anti-Fascist action,” is a left-wing extremist movement that uses violence against groups they deem fascist, racist, or far-right. While many of their beliefs are in-line with left-wing politics, their aggressive tactics have harmed the reputation of liberals who refuse to stoop to that level. Here’s everything you need to know about Antifa.

Antifa Was Inspired By Anti-Nazi Protesters In Germany

who is Antifa

During Nazi Germany, those who opposed the rising Nazi regime took to the streets to protest. These 1930s-era left-wing protesters were credited for inspiring Antifa’s methods and beliefs when they formed in America in the ’80s to resist the skinhead movement. The organization originated in Minneapolis and quickly spread across the country to fight racism. Antifa tends to resurface during moments in our country’s history when they feel they’re in need such as during the Occupy Wall Street movement as well as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Since Trump’s presidency, Antifa membership has grown significantly and their involvement in violent actions has grown.

Antifa Members Dress In All Black

who is Antifa

Antifa members often dress in all black and sometimes cover their faces with a mask or bandana. This is both an intimidation tactic as well as a way to ensure the police and any opposing groups don’t recognize them. The group refers to this as a “black bloc” as it allows them to move in a single, anonymous group.

Antifa’s Tactics

who is Antifa

The overall goal Antifa members have is to destroy the platform fascist and racist groups have like the alt-right and the KKK. They do their best to make these groups unappealing to new members by identifying racists online and having them fired from their jobs. Antifa also uses common techniques such as interrupting alt-right events by shouting or chanting, organizing rallies and marches, and forming human chains to interrupt fascist or racist movements. What makes them different from other protestors is that they will sometimes carry around weapons and have no problem resorting to violence to get their point across.

Antifa’s Use Of Violence

who is Antifa

While Antifa members will claim that their use of violence is a form of self-defense, they’re known for carrying weapons with them like pepper spray, knives, and chains. A Facebook page for the Rose City Antifa group states:

We are unapologetic about the reality that fighting fascism at points requires physical militancy. Anti-fascism is, by nature, a form of self-defense: the goal of fascism is to exterminate the vast majority of human beings.

Antifa groups are known for physically confronting members of the far-right on the streets and even successfully postponing or cancelling events. Member use of violence will often give conservatives ammunition to back up their own political views, which makes Antifa groups a sore spot for many Democrats and liberals. Antifa will often make historical arguments to justify their actions. For example, if people had been more aggresive when protesting the German Nazi Party, perhaps World War II and the Holocaust could have been avoided.

Antifa’s Recent Demonstrations

who is Antifa

Trump’s inauguration inspired hundreds of Antifa members to hit the streets of Washington where they started riots, started fires, and destroyed property. In 2017, Antifa joined groups from both sides of the political spectrum at the University of California at Berkeley protests. After smashing windows and setting fires, Antifa forced the cancellation of a speech by alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos. Also that year, Antifa showed up to a pro-Trump free speech protest in Portland where they were seen throwing objects at the police. The authorities responded to Antifa violence with flash grenades and pepper balls.

While each chapter of the organization determines which other political movements to support, they are often linked to Black Lives Matter, Immigrant movements, Refugee movements, Work with prisoners, Rojava solidarity work, Anti-Racist Action, and Showing Up for Racial Justice. They have especially been known to colaborate with BLM on marches and protests.

The Obligations Of An Antifa Member

who is Antifa

Antifa’s structure makes it difficult to track them, which is likely the point. Each chapter is loosely connected and can come up with their own incentives, beliefs, and messages which they often share over message boards or social media. Members are expected a list of obligations though including:

  1. “Track white nationalist, Far Right, and fascist activity. Your group will be expected to document fascist groups and organizing in your area. This means gathering information on who is doing what, and knowing the makeup and key players of the various groups that are active. Once information is verified, Antifa groups periodically release this information in a publicly available format. It is also crucial to alert any intended targets about specific threats you [encounter] while doing research.”[27]
  2. “Oppose public Far Right organizing. If the Klan or the National Socialist Movement hold a public rally, if Alt Right speakers come to town, or if the Daily Stormer holds a meet up, you will be expected to organize a counter-demonstration. If they hold postering or sticker campaigns, you should not only take down their materials but also put up your own; public outreach campaigns should likewise be countered.”[28]
  3. “Support other anti-fascists who are targeted by fascists or arrested for Antifa-related activities. This could include supporting regional groups, or organizing benefits and fundraisers for prisoners and injured comrades.”[29]
  4. “Build a culture of non-cooperation with law enforcement. If you have any intention of working with the police, FBI, or other agencies; or if you publicly condemn anti-fascists who break the law: don’t call yourself an anti-fascist. The cops will be Trump supporters; do not collaborate with them.”[30]

There is also a list of suggestions and best practices for Antifa members which include blurring member faces before posting them to social media, keeping personal and Antifa social media presence separate, learning the self-defense laws in their city so they can oblige, encouraging members to practice martial arts, and pressure local venues to cancel racist or fascist events.

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Rose Burke

Freelance writer and art enthusiast, Rose Burke, often writes humorous essays inspired by awkward dating experiences and life’s cruel sense of humor. When she's not doing that, she's typically writing entertainment articles on women's issues, politics, feminism, and other trending topics her readers love. Her work has been published in The Southampton Review, The Conium Review, The Richest, The Independent, CINEMABLEND, and more. Author of the popular feminist blog series "Writings of the Satirical Feminista," Rose is currently focusing on a collection of humorous personal essays while she travels the world.


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