President Donald Trump announced that his administration would label the decentralized anti-fascist movement Antifa a terrorist group but legal experts have challenged the basis of that designation, CNN reports.
“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” Trump tweeted on Sunday after claiming that Antifa supporters were involved in violence and vandalism amid protests over George Floyd’s death.
But Antifa is not a “group” or an “organization,” but rather a movement made up of local groups, some of which are organized, around the country. Importantly, the movement lacks a leader, there are no defined membership roles, and there is no centralized structure.
“Antifa positions can be hard to define, but many members support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. Some employ radical or militant tactics to get out their messages,” CNN reported, adding that it has been “difficult” for law enforcement to identify which people consider themselves Antifa.
Bill Barr threatens terrorist charges for Antifa:
Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement on Sunday that outside agitators would face domestic terror charges for violence during protests.
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr said, arguing that outside agitators have exploited the protests for “their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.”
“Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law,” he said.
Experts say Trump plan unconstitutional:
"As this tweet demonstrates, terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused. There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi. “Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns."
This was further echoed by Mary B. McCord, a former head of the Justice Department's National Security Division. In a statement to the New York Times, McCord pointed out that "right now, the only terrorist authority is for foreign terrorist organizations.” The piece also points out that when dealing with domestic neo-Nazi groups like the Base or Atomwaffen Division, the FBI has treated them as criminal enterprises.
While there are those engaging in violence at protests across the country that definitely identify with far-left social movements, there are competing narratives suggesting the presence of other fringe political actors. In particular, reports have emerged of white supremacist militia groups at these protests as well.
“It seems to be an effort to distract from the documented presence of white supremacist militia groups at these protests and their rhetoric in wanting to instigate further violence that would potentially flow into a civil war or a race war,” former FBI special agent Mike German told The Daily Beast.