The Department of Homeland Security has formally classified activities of so-called anti-fascist or “antifa” groups as “domestic terrorist violence,” according to sources and documents obtained by Politico.
The news comes on the heels of antifa violence that erupted against peaceful supporters of Donald Trump and others antifa accused of, often falsely, being white supremacists or Nazis, The L.A. Times reported.
According to Politico, unreported documents from a 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI described that by April 2016, officials claimed that “anarchist extremists” were the root cause of the violence at public demonstrations against many different targets and were assessed for attacking law enforcement and government entities in the name of fighting racism, fascism, social injustice and “the capitalist system.”
“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,” said one senior law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that has become a front line in clashes between the groups. “These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people… They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows.”
Antifascist groups were already classified with “domestic terrorism” organizations by New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security.
New Jersey DHS describes antifa as “a subset of the anarchist movement and focus on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustices.”