Everything you need to know about Antifa

A+riot+at+the+University+of+Berkeley+during+the+Milo+Yiannopoulos+speech+in+2016+turns+violent.+Members+of+Antifa+can+be+seen+wearing+black+handkerchiefs+and+all+black+outfits.+They+ended+up+lighting+fires.%0APhoto+by+Daniel+Flores
A riot at the University of Berkeley during the Milo Yiannopoulos speech in 2016 turns violent. Members of Antifa can be seen wearing black handkerchiefs and all black outfits. They ended up lighting fires.
Photo by Daniel Flores

A riot at the University of Berkeley during the Milo Yiannopoulos speech in 2016 turns violent. Members of Antifa can be seen wearing black handkerchiefs and all black outfits. They ended up lighting fires. Photo by Daniel Flores

A riot at the University of Berkeley during the Milo Yiannopoulos speech in 2016 turns violent. Members of Antifa can be seen wearing black handkerchiefs and all black outfits. They ended up lighting fires. Photo by Daniel Flores

Stephanie Olney, Staff writer

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Who, or what is Antifa, the group that has been at the height of the protests (especially in Berkeley according to the LA Times) in the era of a Donald Trump presidency? Antifa is a shortened version of the term “anti-fascist.” The group and its flag originate from the German group “Antifaschistische Aktion,” whose history dates all the way back to World War II, according to the article “An Intimate History of Antifa” by Daniel Penny in the New Yorker. However, modern day Antifa, as a movement in America, became popular during the 2016 presidential election, according to “The Rise of the Violent Left” by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic.

The group is comprised of several different factions including Phoenix John Brown Gun Club, who protested at the Phoenix Trump rally in September, and #Disrupt J20 who protested in Washington D.C. They are known for wearing black clothing with a red bandana over their faces (both as a part of the outfit and a way to protect themselves from tear gas or pepper spray). The red and black outfits reflect their flag and the original flag of the German organization they derive their name from. According to “Antifa: Left-Wing Militants on the Rise” by Brenna Cammeron on BBC.com, they are a group of far left political activists who are very anti-Trump, anti-homophobia, anti-racism, anti-transphobia, anti-hate speech and anti-fascist.

There has been no official demographic associated with Antifa, as they are an anonymous organization, but based on the footage of members at Antifa protests they appear to be a younger demographic, ranging from late teens to early 30s. They are most famous for their willingness and encouragement of violence and property damage to promote their cause.“Breaking a window is a symbolic act. Windows break all the time; things break all the time,” Lacy Macauley, leader of #Disrupt J20 said in an interview with 2020.

They have also coined the phrase “punch a Nazi” and have encouraged violence against neo-Nazis and white nationalists. They do not like the self-proclaimed leader of the alt-right, Richard Spencer, who vouches for an all-white America, and they have frequently tried and often times succeeded in punching him in the face when he shows up to events, according to “The Long History of ‘Nazi Punching’” by Wes Enzinna on motherjones.com. Many conservatives, such as Steven Crowder, criticized Antifa stating that “anyone who doesn’t agree with them to them is automatically a Nazi.” Even left wing comedian Trevor Noah called out Antifa, referring to them as “vegan ISIS” in his segment on the Daily Show which aired Aug. 31 on Comedy Central.

The main problem a lot of people have with Antifa, according to “Unmasking the Leftist Antifa Movement” by Sara Ganim and Chris Welch on cnn.com, is they don’t seem to like free speech and find that violence is a better alternative to fighting their opponents than words. President Trump called out Antifa specifically by name in his rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22. Later, in defending his controversial Charlottesville statements, referred to Antifa as the “Alt-Left” which he stated to be equally as bad as the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the “Alt-Right.” As of Sept. 1, the Department of Homeland Security classified Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, according to “FBI, Homeland Security Warn of More ‘Antifa’ Attacks” by Josh Meyer on politico.com.

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Everything you need to know about Antifa