After George Floyd died May 25, the country erupted with nationwide protests and riots, which have now been ongoing for nearly 5 months. Riots that left parts of cities destroyed sparked renewed interest in the loosely connected group of far-left activists known as Antifa.
Not much is known about the organizational structure of Antifa or the “black bloc” anarchists that make up the group. For the past 5 months, however, undercover reporters have been going to protests and riots across the country and have found out more about this group’s operations.
Antifa commonly dresses up as members of the press to evoke sympathy from the public. Daily Caller reporter Shelby Talcott described seeing members of the “media” participating in protests and riots. (RELATED: ‘I Am Antifa’: Pro-Antifa Candidate Surges Into Lead In Portland Mayor’s Race)
This dude started rounding up all the “press” to go together down the street, where officers had retreated to. I’m not sure how many have legitimate press credentials… pic.twitter.com/08OdCuWGqA
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) July 27, 2020
“I have seen situations where fake press will attack the police by throwing objects at them during protests in Portland and cuss at them, this will usually draw out a response from officers during riots to arrest these individuals during an unlawful assembly,” said Daily Caller reporter Jorge Ventura. “These individuals will then claim they are members of the press while being arrested when they aren’t associated with any news media company, just simply writing press on themselves.”
Erin Smith, a conservative trans woman who went undercover in Portland, also described seeing what she called “sympathetic press.” Smith told Reason magazine that Antifa’s tactics involved presenting protesters as the victims.
“That’s why all the ‘press’ is there, the sympathetic press,” Smith told Reason. “They’re trying to create propaganda. They know how the police are going to react, so they carefully calibrate what they do to try to provoke the police into reacting and then filming it.”
“They want to try to push public opinion in favor of removing the police,” she added.
Antifa’s organizational structure is unlike the structure of a typical group, the reporters said. It’s intentionally ambiguous – but their tactics are designed to evoke a response from the public and the media.
Smith described similar tactics when she went undercover to a Portland riot where the Portland Police Association was burned.
“Basically they’re baiting the police into overreacting,” she told Reason.
“Antifa goes for a certain type of violence, a mid-level violence,” Smith continued. “Most people aren’t practiced in violence, and what they’ll do is, they’ll either back down or they’ll overreact. Antifa basically as a group does the equivalent of just pushing someone on the shoulder, and again, and again.”
Daily Caller Video Director Richie McGinniss described how Antifa purposefully tries to appear leaderless, but in reality, leaders work behind the scenes to coordinate protest activity and security. McGinniss said that while he, Talcott, and Ventura were in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), they witnessed this organization first-hand.