On April 15, a pro-Trump, pro-free-speech rally at University of California, Berkeley, descended into violent mayhem after radical far-leftists — members of the organization Antifa — began to attack the peacefully assembled crowd.
Antifa, which stands for “anti-fascist action,” is a network of loosely affiliated far-left anarchist and communist groups that orchestrate violent protests and attacks on populists, conservatives, and anyone else its members deem to be “fascists” or “Nazis.”
Antifa was formed originally in Germany in the 1980s, its members taking the name of the communist paramilitary groups that engaged the Nazis in street-fighting in the 1930s. It now has active cells across the world, including in Germany, the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Czechia, and France.
“Anyone who tries to hold any sort of right-wing event literally gets beat up by militant communists in the street,” said independent journalist Lauren Southern, who was present at one of the pro-Trump Berkeley rallies, in a video taken immediately following the violence.
Harrowing video footage taken by Southern’s crew showed Antifa street fighters throwing bricks and M-80 explosives into the crowd, as well as assaulting Trump supporters. Other footage released by someone present at the event showed one Antifa thug hit a Trump supporter over the head with a bicycle chain and lock.
But the Trump supporters and free speech activists — acting fully in self-defense — were able to hold their ground and drive back their Antifa attackers. In response Antifa members have only vowed to intensify their violence.
"Not getting disarmed is a big part of the problem, yes, but we need more than flags and bats," wrote one in the r/anarchism subreddit community page.
"We need to take notes from the John Brown Gun Club and get firearms and training. I know getting firearms in states and cities we have a presence in is usually a hassle, but even handguns would help," the would-be revolutionary wrote.
"It would certainly put a psychological element in while holding fash [fascists] back. Who do you think a fascist is more afraid of? People with only flags and bats, or people with flags, bats, and guns?" he wrote.
But some Antifa members have clearly had the same thought — that "flags and bats" simply aren’t enough. Indeed the Antifa United webstore temporarily sold an Antifa-branded concealed credit-card knife.
The Department of State, through U.S. Code Title 22, Chapter 38, defines terrorism as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."
Antifa increasingly could plausibly fit that definition.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
Antifa could also reasonably meet those conditions.
The U.S. Department of Defense defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce governments or societies" and notes that terrorism "is often motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political."
Yes, Antifa fits that definition, too.