The United States will officially designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, President Donald Trump announced Sunday on Twitter.
The move comes following days of protests, riots, looting and violence across the country in response to the police-custody death of George Floyd. Reports from Minneapolis, Minnesota — the origin of the unrest — suggest large numbers of Antifa members are acting as catalysts for violence and looting.
“Antifa” is short for “anti-fascists,” and the group has been responsible for violence at dozens of protests in recent years.
Attorney General Bill Barr confirmed on Saturday that his Justice Department would be actively prosecuting activists who crossed state lines to participate in protests and riots. Leaders in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. credited these out-of-state actors with instigating most of the violence.
“Unfortunately, with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” Barr said, according to Politico. “In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by far left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics.”
BREAKING REPORT: AG Barr Has instructed all 56 Regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) to search our and apprehend ANTIFA leaders across the country..
DO YOU SUPPORT THIS MOVE?
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) May 31, 2020
There is some precedent for declaring terrorist organization domestically. San Francisco declared the NRA a domestic terror organization in 2019, but the announcement had no legal ramifications beyond expressing the opinion of the city. It is unclear what legal teeth a federal declaration against Antifa would have.
Trump made the announcement after congratulating the National Guard for its work to quell violence in Minneapolis on Saturday night. Authorities there reported they successfully enforced a curfew, something dozens of other cities failed to do.
Trump also criticized the media’s coverage of the riots, saying their work is contributing to the unrest.
White House correspondent.
Antifa attacked and burned St Johns Church in our nation’s capital pic.twitter.com/d2QaW2Urto
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) June 1, 2020