President Donald Trump and his allies have sought to blame left-wing extremists for the violence and looting at US protests over police brutality while local authorities and watchdog groups have pointed for the threat posed by right-wing movements.
A newly released US intelligence assessment reviewed by Reuters in the week said most of the violence at protests seems to have already been driven by opportunists. However the assessment also said there seemed to be some evidence that organized extremists were tied to violence or promoting it online.
WHICH GROUPS Are Increasingly Being SINGLED OUT?
President Donald Trump and several fellow Republicans have sought to blame the left-wing anti-fascist Antifa movement but have presented little evidence.
Liberal watchdog groups and some local authorities have warned that individuals the anti-government “boogaloo” movement or white supremacist groups could infiltrate protests.
Federal prosecutors filed charges this week against three alleged boogaloo members charged with plotting to result in destruction and violence at Las Vegas protest.
What Exactly Is ANTIFA?
Antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” is undoubtedly an amorphous movement whose adherents oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist, based on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremists. Antifa aims to “intimidate and dissuade racists,” nonetheless its aggressive tactics including physical confrontations can create “a vicious, self-defeating cycle of attacks, counter-attacks and blame,” the ADL said.
The FBI has been increasingly concerned about violence perpetrated by Antifa at public events, according to a 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research arm of the US Congress.
WHY IS ANTIFA SO WELL-KNOWN?
Antifa grew in notoriety following a 2017 rally inCharlottesville and Virginia, organized by white supremacists and white nationalists who clashed violently with counter-protesters. Trump drew criticism afterward as he said there are “very fine people for both sides” and blamed “many sides” for the violence. Trump specifically mentioned Antifa.
“You know, they arrive inside the helmets along with the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything,” Trump said of Antifa days after the rally.
Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” said Trump was focusing on Antifa to redirect the conversation away from social and economic discontent in america at the heart from the protests.
“There just aren’t enough members of Antifa groups available to perform everything they’re being blamed for,” said Bray, a lecturer in history at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Exactly What Is The BOOGALOO MOVEMENT?
The anti-government boogaloo movement embodies a militant ideology whose members believe the United States will enter into a second civil war, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. Boogaloo followers anticipate the government will make an effort to confiscate people’s guns.
The boogaloo ideology itself is not white supremacist, but some white supremacist groups have embraced it, the ADL found.
“Whereas the militia movement and radical gun rights activists typically promote the boogaloo like a war versus the government or liberals, white supremacists conceive of your boogaloo as a race war or a white revolution,” the ADL wrote within a November analysis.
Boogaloo groups have started in popularity online in the past year. The Tech Transparency Project, a Washington-based tech watchdog group, found tens of thousands of people joined boogaloo-related Facebook groups spanning a 30-day period in April and March as stay-at-home orders took effect across the United States to stop the spread in the novel coronavirus. Project researchers found discussions about tactical weapons, creating and strategies explosives in some boogaloo Facebook groups.
WHAT ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND WHITE NATIONALISTS?
A small number of white supremacists and white nationalists have been spotted at recent protests, according to watchdog groups and media reports. The Nationalist Social Club, a neo-Nazi group, appeared to obtain had some presence at protests in Knoxville and BostonTennessee and Knoxville, the ADL said. According to media reports, members of the far-right Proud Boys were seen at North Carolina and Oregon protests last weekend.
Nate Snyder, a former US Department of Homeland Security counter-terrorism official, said it is likely anarchists were among the protesters in recent days, but doubted they would pose a credible violent threat.