Most of the riots start out of true frustration. As time progresses, multiple groups seem to be seeing the protests as an opportunity to blame the other. Anything to do with violence and looting is an opportunity to blame the other. There have been instances of right-wing, white groups planning looting and violence as a flashpoint for protesters to continue. Most who started in true frustration as trying to organize non-violent protests but the mere presence of such protests is fertile ground for any group to start violent clashes.
Foreign meddling has not been seen. It is discussed heavily in the press and on social media but if there is any such meddling it comes from organizations like the Proud Boys with a global presence, and Russia, using social media and bots to spread the divisions and create chaos (including QAnon, Gallia Daily, Defend Europa News, Boogaloo Intel Drop, Privacy & Security Goys, Crane Gang, Beady-Anglos-Я-Us Propaganda Storage, Terror Wave Redacted, Feuerkrieg Division, Atomwaffen Division, Christian Aryanism and now the National Justice Party). This has not changed since 2016. Bots and trolls ‘light the virtual fires’ by repurposing video with false claims. Proud Boys do the same. They are pushing video and threats but the roots of the protests are not in either antifa or the Proud Boys. They are rooted in repeated injustices perpetrated against minorities of color.
Ideology: Primarily alt lite: Misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration. Some members espouse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies and/or engage with white supremacist groups.
- Membership: Unknown, likely several hundred.
- Notable characteristics: Members frequently wear black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts.
- Global footprint: Proud Boys have chapters in most states and several international chapters in Britain, Norway and Australia.
- Membership: Controlled by local chapter leadership and subject to initiation rituals.
- Tactics: Public rallies and protests. Members have been known to engage in violent tactics; several members have been convicted of violent crimes.
Violence has been a key component of the Proud Boys since the group’s creation. McInnes has repeatedly advocated brutal tactics when dealing with the Proud Boys’ sworn enemies — anti-fascist counter protestors, otherwise known as antifa — and leaked chats from social messaging app Telegram reveal a clear pattern of inciting violence.
Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, anti-Semites, Southern racists, and militias. Kessler was only “expelled” from the group after the violence and near-universal condemnation of the Charlottesville rally-goers.
The anti-fascist protest movement known as antifa gained new prominence in the United States after the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017. In Charlottesville and at many later events held by white supremacists or right-wing extremists, antifa activists have confronted what they believe to be authoritarian movements and groups. While most counter-protestors tend to be peaceful, there have been several instances where encounters between antifa and the far-right have turned violent. Counter-protesters are often part of “antifa” (short for “antifascist”), a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. Their ideology is the assumption that the Nazi party would never have been able to come to power in Germany if people had more fought them in the streets in the 1920s and 30s. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/an-intimate-history-of-antifa
Antifa is not a unified group; it is loose collection of local/regional groups and individuals. Their presence at a protest is to intimidate and dissuade racists. The use of violent measures by some antifa creates a self-defeating cycle of attacks and blame.
Another concern is the misuse of the label “antifa” to include all counter-protesters. The term should only be used for those who seek physical confrontation.
All forms of antifa violence are problematic. Violence plays into the “victimhood” narrative of white supremacists. Right-wing extremists use this for recruiting purposes. Examples include images of these “free speech” protesters attacked by black-clad and bandana-masked antifa.
As long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism — also known as “antifa.” Born out of resistance to Mussolini and Hitler, the antifa movement has suddenly burst into the headlines amidst opposition to the Trump administration and the alt-right.
In a smart and gripping investigation, historian and activist Mark Bray provides a detailed survey of the full history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day — the first transnational history of postwar anti-fascism in English. Today, critics say shutting down political adversaries is anti-democratic; antifa adherents argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed the slightest chance to triumph again. Bray amply demonstrates that antifa simply aims to deny fascists the opportunity to promote their oppressive politics, and to protect tolerant communities from acts of violence promulgated by fascists.
Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics of the movement and the philosophy behind it, offering insight into the growing but little-understood resistance fighting back against fascism in all its guises.
Away from rallies, they also engage in “doxxing,” racist individuals. They release identities, addresses, jobs, and other private information. In responses, extremists doxxing antifa. They perpetuate hateful and violent narratives using fake “antifa” social media accounts. They incite violence at rallies blaming antifa.
There is no unifying body for antifa. Different localities have antifa populations of different strengths. Antifa, like Proud Boys also travel hundreds of miles to oppose a white supremacist event.
Antifa does not have a Telegram presence. In fact, the presence there is Anti-Antifa run by the Proud Boys. “We are against those that call themselves ANTIFASCIST as a smoke screen to shut down FREE SPEECH.”
Antifa activists believe that Fascists forfeit their rights to speak and assemble when they deny those same rights to others through violence and intimidation.