■ What unites di­verse peo­ple who iden­tify as “an­tifa” is the pri­mary pur­pose of stop­ping fas­cism, even at the ex­pense of free speech.

Only uni­fy­ing el­e­ment is fear­ing fas­cism’s rise

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael E. Miller

BERKE­LEY, Calif. — On the morn­ing of the protest, Sean Hines woke with a sense of pur­pose he sel­dom had felt. He was a 20-yearold high school dropout with no car, no job and no money. A year and a half ago, he had been ar­rested for a drunken brawl. Now Hines was about to be ar­rested again, but for some­thing he be­lieved in.

In his Santa Rosa half­way house, Hines dressed in all black. He chugged an en­ergy drink, popped some nico­tine gum and climbed into a friend’s car that blasted Ger­man punk rock as it bar­reled to­ward Berke­ley.

“Alerta, alerta, anti-fascista!” the cho­rus shrieked.

It was a call to arms for mil­i­tant anti-fas­cists, or “an­tifa” — and Hines was heed­ing it.

But the Aug. 27 protest in Berke­ley did not go ac­cord­ing to plan. Po­lice quickly ar­rested Hines and 12 oth­ers. Then, in im­ages broad­cast across the coun­try, more than 100 an­tifa ac­tivists leapt over bar­ri­cades and stormed Martin Luther King

Jr. Civic Cen­ter Park, at­tack­ing a hand­ful of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers and right-wing ac­tivists.

A month ear­lier, few Amer­i­cans had heard of an­tifa. Then came Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, where an­tifa ac­tivists were cred­ited with pro­tect­ing clergy mem­bers from at­tacks by white su­prem­a­cists.

The vi­o­lence in Berke­ley led to a back­lash, in­clud­ing from the left. The city’s mayor, a Demo­crat, called for an­tifa to be clas­si­fied as a gang and for the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley to can­cel con­ser­va­tive speeches later this month to avoid more vi­o­lence.

In Wash­ing­ton, where an­tifa smashed store­fronts and torched a limou­sine on In­au­gu­ra­tion Day, author­i­ties fear the far-left ac­tivists will strike again.

If Trump’s elec­tion has em­bold­ened the far right, then it has also en­er­gized its en­e­mies.

Hid­den be­hind masks, how­ever, an­tifa ac­tivists re­main mys­te­ri­ous. Are they every­day cit­i­zens guard­ing against the rise of a Fourth Re­ich? Or are they, as Trump has said, merely the “alt-left” — a law­less mir­ror im­age of the white su­prem­a­cists they op­pose?

On Thurs­day, Trump claimed re­cent an­tifa an­tics had jus­ti­fied his much-crit­i­cized re­sponse to Char­lottesville, in which he blamed the vi­o­lence on “both sides.”

“I think, es­pe­cially in light of the ad­vent of an­tifa, if you look at what’s go­ing on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and es­sen­tially that’s what I said,” he told re­porters Thurs­day.

In­ter­views with a dozen an­tifa ac­tivists show they come from a va­ri­ety of back­grounds and are only loosely af­fil­i­ated. Some, like Hines, are youths in search of a cause. Oth­ers have been demon­strat­ing for decades.

Many are an­ar­chists, although some vote. They em­ploy a range of peace­ful tac­tics, in­clud­ing dox­ing, or ex­pos­ing, white su­prem­a­cists.

While they are all open to us­ing vi­o­lence, some em­brace it — even glo­rify it.

What unites them is the be­lief that free speech is se­condary to squash­ing fas­cism be­fore it takes root in the United States.

“If ev­ery­one is punch­ing a Nazi, it’s even­tu­ally go­ing to cre­ate a mass mil­i­tant move­ment based around anti-fas­cist,” Hines said. “That hope­fully will be enough to stop them from gain­ing power.”

Nick Otto The Wash­ing­ton Post

For Sean Hines, an­tifa is the lat­est in a suc­ces­sion of left-wing causes. The high school dropout now calls him­self a “lib­er­tar­ian so­cial­ist,” com­mu­nist and an­tifa.

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