WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has blamed antifa activists for violence at protests over police killings of black people, but antifa isn’t an organization and targeting it isn’t so simple.
A look at what antifa is and is not:
WHAT IS ANTIFA?
Short for “anti-fascists,” antifa is not a single organization but rather an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups that confront or resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.
There is no hierarchical structure to antifa or universal set of tactics that makes its presence immediately recognizable, though members tend to espouse revolutionary and anti-authoritarian views, said Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers University and author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
“They do different things at different times in different ways, some of which there is evidence of them breaking the law. Other times there is not,” Bray said.
Literature from the antifa movement encourages followers to pursue lawful protest activity as well as more confrontational acts, according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service report.
The literature suggests that followers monitor the activities of white supremacist groups, publicize online the personal information of perceived enemies, develop self-defense training regimens and compel outside organizations to cancel any speakers or events with “a fascist bent,” the report said.