Two Republican senators presented a bill on Thursday, July 18, to label the extreme-left antifa group as a domestic terrorist organization.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy introduced a bill following several serious violent incidents recently perpetrated by this extremist group: a terrorist attack on an immigration facility and an assault on a journalist in Portland in broad daylight with no arrests.
“Antifa is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their unhinged agenda through aggressive violence,” Cruz said in a statement.
“Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their only purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views. The hate and violence they spread must be stopped, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with Sen. Cassidy to properly identify what antifa is: domestic terrorists,” Cruz said.
“Antifa is a domestic terror organization. This is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals pursuing their extreme agenda through violence. They are masked bigots, attacking others because they don’t agree with their ideas. The time to stop antifa is NOW,” Cassidy wrote on Twitter.
The statement lists the violent incidents in which antifa has been involved, including the violence during the riots in Berkeley in 2017, the beating of journalist Andy Ngo and the extortion of immigration and customs officials (ICE).
The senators request that all organizations or groups acting under the antifa flag be declared national terrorist organizations.
Cruz and Cassidy also called on the federal government to “to combat the spread of all forms of domestic terrorism, including White supremacist terrorism.”
This is not the first time this has been called for, following the 2017 Berkeley incidents in which dozens of antifa extremists surrounded and attacked opposition protesters and journalists with fists and sticks, the city’s mayor, Jesse Arreguin, declared that antifa should be labeled a gang.
“They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia,” he told CBS. “I think we should classify them as a gang.“
“We must also need to hold accountable and encourage people not to associate with these extremists because it empowers them and gives them cover,” Arreguin added.
For his part, President Donald Trump called Antifa “evil” and said it was full of “sick and bad people,” pointing out that the group was part of “the emergence of a hard and dangerous militant left.”
Investigated by the FBI
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in 2017 that the group was being investigated by FBI agents.
“We are investigating a number of what we would call anarchist-extremist investigations, where we would have properly predicated subjects of people who are motivated to commit violent criminal activity on kind of an antifa ideology,” Wray said.
Antifa was allegedly classified as a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration.
According to classified documents obtained by Politico, antifa was described in April 2016 as the “primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets.”
The authorities wrote that “anarchist extremists” were the main instigators of violence in public demonstrations and were known to attack police and conservative groups.
“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,” a senior law enforcement official tracking extremists told Político.
“These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields, and bike helmets and just beating the [expletive] out of people,” he explained.
“They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows,” he concluded.