A petition calling for the White House to officially brand the Antifa movement as a terrorist organization has reached the threshold of signatures necessary to compel the Trump administration to reply, according to the Washington Times. The petition received its 100,000th signature around 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. Though it had 30 days to reach that goal, the petition did so in less than a week.
The petition contends that Antifa deserves the terrorist designation because of its “violent actions” in cities like Berkeley, Calif, and Charlottesville, Va., as well as its “influence” in the killings of police officers.
The full text of the petition is below:
“Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims”. This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations.
AntiFa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States.
It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”
If the petition is successful, Antifa would differ from other terror groups in one unique respect: Antifa isn’t an organization, so much as a blanket term for far-left protesters known for their violent battles with right-wing groups, as the Washington Times explains.
“Antifa is short for anti-fascists, and the people involved are generally extreme leftists known for their face-offs with right-wing activists, including recently in Berkeley, Calif. Antifa counter-protesters made an appearance in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and clashed with white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.”
Antifa demonstrators are typically marked by their preference for black sweatshirts, and for wrapping dark bandannas around their faces. However, there's at least one reason why the White House might de-prioritize the petition: The urgency surrounding the violent clashes that have erupted between demonstrators at various right-wing rallies and events involving conservative speakers has quieted somewhat after Saturday’s gatherings in Boston, which were largely peaceful.
As the Times notes, President Donald Trump has criticized what he calls “alt-left” groups that instigate violence at public demonstrations. Trump’s use of “alt-left” has widely been interpreted as another term for Antifa.
"What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? Do they have any assemblage of guilt?" Trump told reporters at Trump Tower on Tuesday.
"What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. That was a horrible, horrible day."
Though the president’s hostility is an encouraging sign, petitions that have taken aim at other protest groups since Trump took office in January have mostly fizzled, like a petition to label Black Lives Matter a terrorist group.