Donald Trump threatened to have Antifa deemed “an organization of terror” ahead of expected clashes between the sometimes-violent leftist group and far-right protesters in Portland on Saturday, Fox News reports.
In a tweet Saturday morning, Trump made it clear that his eyes are on Portland and Antifa.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.’ Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
What Is Antifa?
Antifa, which stands for “anti-fascists,” is a group of far-left advocates whose stated goal is to oppose neo-Nazis, neo-fascism, white supremacists and racism, according to BBC News. Generally, whenever an alt-right rally, protest, speaking engagement, or other event is taking place, Antifa can be expected to show up.
Antifa members, who dress all in black, use tactics such as forming human chains, shouting down speakers, and other techniques to oppose their adversaries.
Are They Violent?
They can be, yes. Protests at which Antifa members have shown up have included property destruction and fist-swinging, and physically harassing the police. For example, as Willamette Week reported in 2017, Antifa members reportedly used slingshots to hurl urine- and feces-filled balloons at cops at a Portland event that year — at least, that was the claim made by Police Chief Mike Marshman.
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) August 17, 2019
But Are They Terrorists?
The answer to that question largely depends on the person answering, as the definition of terrorism is itself largely dependent on whom you ask. But using the benchmark of murder, the Anti Defamation League says that Antifa is responsible for exactly zero murders, while domestic, right-wing terrorism has been responsible for hundreds of murders over the last decade alone.
What’s Portland Got To Do With This?
Portland is gearing up for possible violence between Antifa and members of alt-right groups of various stripes on Saturday. Far-right personality Joe Gibbs is planning a rally today downtown, with the stated goal of putting “an end to domestic terrorism,” which he blames on Antifa. The event is expected to draw interest from individuals affiliated with, or sympathetic to, the Proud Boys, followers of The Daily Stormer, American Guard, the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers — all extremist organizations, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center.
What Does Labeling Antifa A Terrorist Organization Mean In A Practical Sense?
Among other things, it would add Antifa to the list of terrorist organizations monitored by the Department of Justice, according to Pacific Standard. That would, in turn, provide the Department of Justice with new investigatory powers to monitor the group, as well as to charge members with acts of terrorism, rather than simple assault or vandalism, should they be accused of any crimes.
This is not the first time Trump leveled such a threat against Antifa: he also threatened to have the group named a terror organization in late July.