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Just 3 arrests so far as Texas officials blame protest violence on Antifa 'terrorists'
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WASHINGTON — As protests raged across the U.S. in the days after George Floyd’s death, politicians and law enforcement officials issued dire warnings that a radical leftist group was using the unrest to smash storefronts and sow terror.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, U.S. senators including Ted Cruz and Texas’ top law enforcement officer, Steve McCraw, have all blamed antifa for looting and violence at protests.

“This is a terrorist assault on our country,” Cruz said in a recent Fox News interview.

Cruz has been among the leading voices calling for antifa to be named a domestic terrorist organization, something Trump has vowed will happen.

But among the hundreds of arrests made during the protests, police in the five biggest Texas cities have so far reported jailing just three alleged antifa affiliates, whom they accuse of looting a Target in Austin. While the Texas Department of Public Safety says it is still investigating antifa cases and more charges are to come, calls to the law enforcement agencies in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin turned up no other arrests of alleged antifa members.

And even as the Trump administration blames antifa for the violence at protests, dozens of cases the Justice Department has brought so far include no links to antifa, NPR reported this week.

Texas DPS said in a statement that “the department is investigating incidents involving antifa and other groups” and that “additional arrests will be forthcoming.” It pointed to a section of the Texas Domestic Terrorism Threat Assessment on anarchist groups, which it said includes antifa.

“I don’t mind advertising this,” McCraw, the director of DPS, said a press conference in Dallas earlier this month. “We do have special agents embedded trying to identify criminals that are leveraging these or using these as an opportunity exploiting these demonstrations, identifying them and we’ve already identified some of them and we will be arresting them, but not at this particular moment.”

False reports of antifa action have popped up across the country, meanwhile, and social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook have purged fake antifa accounts they say were actually created by white nationalist groups.

Antifa members or ‘community activists’?

None of the three alleged antifa members arrested in Austin has a prior criminal conviction in Texas, state records show, though one has been arrested twice in the past on charges of assault and evading arrest — all of which were dismissed. Two of their attorneys say their link to antifa is a law enforcement fantasy.

“If she’s really this big bad terrorist, then why doesn’t she have a single criminal conviction?” said George Lobb, an attorney for Lisa Hogan, 27, who has the prior arrests. Austin police charged her with burglary after she allegedly went on Facebook Live outside the Target and urged protesters to join them, “even if you do not want to loot.”

“It’s a simple label you place on someone because it’s a buzzword that has a negative connotation,” Lobb said. “What it does is it invites cooperation from the federal government and their resources, including those pukes at Homeland Security Investigations.”

The FBI is involved in the case, and Lobb said Homeland Security is, too.

The police report says an officer who was watching the Target after reports of possible looting saw Samuel Miller, 22, “smash and remove” security cameras from the front of the store as a crowd of protesters began removing plywood from the store windows. The report says only that Miller is “a known antifa member.”

The officer saw Hogan filming as protesters began to break into the Target and urged more to join, according to the report. Other officers watched the livestream on Facebook, the report says. The officer then saw Hogan and Miller “walking away briskly” as police arrived.

They got into a car, which was pulled over by officers. The driver was Skye Elder, 23, the third protester arrested, who police say is also “a known antifa member.”

The police reports do not specify whether any of the three ever entered the store.

“Any claim that community activists like Mr. Miller are ‘antifa’ is nothing but a transparent, incendiary attempt to distract from the problems plaguing our society — systemic racism and state-sponsored murder,” said Carl Guthrie, his attorney. “Every time these accusations are repeated, they lend credence to the dangerous allegation that anyone committed to a world where people have more value than property is a terrorist.”

To some extent, security experts and academics who study antifa agree with Guthrie’s take.

That is exactly the danger when using these broad brush strokes,” said Gary LaFree, chair of the Criminology and Criminal Justice department at the University of Maryland. “It’s kind of this view that antifa is this sort of tumor that we can remove. It’s more like influenza or a virus. There’s not a central location, it’s this range of attitudes.”

‘Regular people’ break things, too

Experts say antifa — which stands for “anti-fascist” — is a loosely-affiliated network of far-left activists, typically organized over social media, who show up to protests to silence voices on the far right, whether by drowning them out with loud counter-protests or by stifling them with physical confrontations.

Antifa first started popping up in Europe, but became active in the U.S. after the election of President Donald Trump.

Perhaps the most well-known instance of antifa action was in Charlottesville, Va. when antifa fought white supremacists at a “Unite the Right” rally that ended with a neo-Nazi killing a protester by driving a car into a crowd. Antifa also trashed the University of California-Berkeley’s campus to keep far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking in 2017.

LaFree runs a database tracking terrorist attacks in the U.S. since the 1960s using the U.S. military’s definition of terrorism. It includes some 2,000 attacks, but not one tied to antifa. The closest to making it was Charlottesville, he said, but it wasn’t clear antifa intended to spark violence when they showed up.

“We’ve been tracking for years now and found no deaths, very little violence,” LaFree said. I think there’s strong evidence that right-wing terrorism is way more violent than left-wing.”

Experts say there’s a lot of misinformation about what antifa is, and that the term has been used as a catch-all for activists with a range of left-wing and anarchist viewpoints.

“There just simply aren’t nearly as many members of antifa groups as would be necessary to do everything they’ve been blamed for,” said Mark Bray, a Rutgers University historian of human rights, terrorism and political radicalism in modern Europe who has studied antifa.

A federal push to label antifa a terrorist group would be difficult because “it’s not a group, as far as we know,” said Ben West, senior global security analyst at Austin-based Stratfor.

“You’ve got a more violent contingent within a larger peaceful protest that will come in and use the cover of protest action to smash windows, spray graffiti, incite violence between police and protesters,” West said. “It’s organized insofar as you have people on social media posting under the term antifa, using hashtag antifa … It’s an ideology, people subscribe to it, but there’s no real structure.”

Bray said there’s “a political expediency in labeling people as such.”

“The other part of the question to be asked is, when law enforcement says that or politicians say that — do they even know what they’re talking about? And either way do they even care?” Bray said.

So, what do you think would happen to me if I, by myself, went to McDonald's and threw a brick through the window? It amazes me how we cater to the young misguided thug nation we live in today. De-fund Police.... Yeah, that'll solve problems. America is being flushed down the crapper by this radical generation acting up all around us. We should have kept spanking and religion in schools
Posted by Sasquatch at 6/16/2020 9:23:42 AM

It's the word game that cops and politicians play.
"Demilitarize" the police is the correct term.
Take away the tanks, grenades, the hummers and the full auto crap and give them back to the government/National Guard. The only real use is intimidation of the public.
Protesting just makes the cops more powerful. Forces overtime pay and justification for new toys and paid training and a bankrupt city that can't fix the streets or fund pensions.
They are Americans who are sick and tired of the way things work
Posted by LT at 6/16/2020 11:04:34 AM

If they're from out of state it's a federal offense!! Maybe the feds won't be as east as the them an oops!!
Posted by Linda at 6/16/2020 11:14:51 AM

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