“I write to urge you to open an organized crime investigation into Antifa” writes US Senator Ted Cruz, “an anarchist terrorist organization that routinely relies on violence to intimidate and punish its political opponents.” Cruz writes to Attorney General William Barr, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Cruz is not alone; U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) join his call to officially criminalize the anti-fascist movement popularly known as “Antifa” under the RICO Act, a law famously used to catch mobsters and even corrupt Pennsylvania lawmakers. “While RICO was originally aimed at the Mafia, over the past 37 years, prosecutors have used it to attack many forms of organized crime: street gangs, gang cartels, corrupt police departments and even politicians.” reads Justia’s article on the law. Even the President has joined in the calls, lumping anti-fascist protesters in with violent gang MS-13, calling them “Radical Left Wack Jobs”
Critics of the move cite not only the fact that criminalizing anti-fascism is suspiciously fascist, but that “Antifa” isn’t an actual organization. Wikipedia describes the movement as being “composed of left-wing, autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups and individuals in the United States.” In addition, the counter-protesters often only appear to suppress right wing extremist groups, which committed the majority of domestic terror attacks in the USA in 2018.
Nevertheless, the bills introduced by the lawmakers could spell serious trouble for organizations aligned with the popular anti-fascist movement like the Socialist Rifle Association, John Brown Gun Club, Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and Redneck Revolt. All organizations have participated in protests associated with Antifa, often while open carrying firearms. The organizations aim to suppress fascism and white supremacy, often by carrying firearms as a deterrent to ward off potential Right Wing Extremists, like the attacker in Charlottesville Unite The Right rally.
At the event, the attacker rammed his car into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer. He was recently sentenced to more than 400 years in prison. Footage of the rally was recently shown at the end of the major motion picture BlacKKKlansman, calling for an end to the alt-right and far-right extremism.
The calls for action come after Portland anti-fascist protesters were filmed in a physical confrontation with far-right journalist Andy Ngo, and an attack on an ICE facility in Tacoma by a self-proclaimed far-left gunman.