Since Bay Area TV anchor Frank Somerville published an honest description of "the hate" he experienced from "violent, clad in black" protesters while trying to document a right-wing rally in Berkeley, the liberal media has decidedly turned against AntiFa – the loosely organized band of black-clad thugs who show up to “counter-protest” at conservative events and demonstrations around the country. WSJ's report describes the group as the left-wing equivalent of the fascists and white supremacists that AntiFa claims to oppose - characterization that the media has so far been reluctant to embrace.
This week, The Wall Street Journal has jumped on the bandwagon, publishing a deeply researched history of the group, and interviewing other leftist organizers who’ve criticized the group for being too violent and damaging the credibility of the left.
In one scene, WSJ recollects how Antifa protesters viciously attacked a small crowd of right-wing demonstrators who showed up last month’s “No to Marxism” rally in Berkeley, even though the rally had been canceled. Using clubs and wooden shields emblazoned with “no hate,” groups of around half a dozen beat and chased their outnumbered “adversaries” out of the park.
As one long-time liberal activist in Massachusetts noted, Antifa’s tactics are dividing the resurgent leftist movement that has coalesced around opposition to President Donald Trump.
AntiFa “doesn’t represent us,” she told WSJ.
“The antifa tactics are testing the liberal movement that has galvanized in opposition to Mr. Trump—creating a rift among its leaders, organizers and demonstrators about whether to denounce a radical fringe, some of whose antidiscrimination objectives, if not tactics, they share.
James Hannon, a psychotherapist and seasoned liberal organizer in Massachusetts who marched at a recent Boston rally against racism, said elements of the antifa movement that use confrontational tactics allow others to blur the line between leftist groups and the hate groups against which they protest.
“The social justice, the peace movement, the left or just progressives really have to start calling out the antifa and say, `Hey, hey, hey, you don’t represent us,’ ” said Mr. Hannon, 67 years old. “’We’re surrendering a moral high ground.’”
As we reported last week, one leader of an AntiFa group based in Washington DC explained in an editorial published by the Hill that violence is a core tenant of the group’s philosophy. He also explained his bizarre belief that Nazis and fascists have infiltrated the highest levels of US police departments and the military.
One WSJ reporter described being threatened by an AntiFa protester while attempting to peacefully document the rally.
“Protesters in dark get-ups set off smoke bombs, toppled police barricades and smashed the cameras of some journalists and bystanders. “You do it again, I’ll break your phone,” a man in a Spider-Man mask told a Wall Street Journal reporter who was taking photographs.”
Even Berkeley’s major condemned the black-clad protesters following last month’s rally.
Mayor Arreguin of Berkeley disagreed: “We saw a large group of black-clad extremists who really turned a peaceful protest on its head.”
A Green Party organizer who spoke with WSJ said she opposes AntiFa’s willingness to resort to violence, and its anti-democratic messaging.
“At a March antiracism rally in Minneapolis, she said, activists chanted “punch a Nazi in the face” and lighted on fire a scarecrow dressed as a white nationalist. “The people who end up taking the rap for it are black organizers,” said Ms. Pree-Stinson, 36, who described herself as a black Latina.
In Boston, masked counterprotesters distributed fliers titled “WHY ANTIFA?” The leaflets criticized the “liberal” approach of believing that elections, courts, the Constitution, a free press and other institutions would “prevent things from going too far.”
They called for “uncompromising militancy” against fascists and said antifa “must force their hate out of public spaces by any means necessary.”
By our count, WSJ is the fifth mainstream media organization to publish a story criticizing the group, which came to national prominence after its involvements with rioting at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Here's a collection of some of the other headlines...
The Washington Post:
The LA Times:
A Whitehouse.gov survey published last month demanding that the White House label AntiFa a terrorist group received the 100,000 signatures needed to demand a response. Meanwhile, last month, the media reported that the Department of Homeland Security described AntiFa as a purveyor of "domestic terrorism" in internal communications.