Trump says US will designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation

Thousands of Americans in cities all across the country have taken to the streets in recent days to protest police brutality after the death of George Floyd

Griffin Connolly
,Andrew Buncombe
Sunday 31 May 2020 18:44 BST
Donald Trump condemns US violence

Donald Trump has claimed that left-wing activists are responsible for the violent protests in Minneapolis and other cities, and declared his administration will move to designate the loose association of militant left-wing, anti-fascist demonstrators commonly known as “Antifa” as a terrorist organisation.

“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organisation,” he said in a series of tweets on Sunday blaming violent outbursts and rioting at police brutality protests across America over the weekend on the group and other “Radical Left” elements.​

Earlier in the day, the president lauded the Minnesota National Guard for its efforts to keep the peace at protests in the state on Saturday.

“Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night. The Antifa led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly,” the president tweeted on Sunday, doubling down on his claim from the day before that “Antifa” and “the Radical Left” bear blame for protests turning violent.

The attorney general, William Barr, echoed the president’s notions that left-wing elements have been responsible for violent brushes with law enforcement, looting and vandalism in recent days in cities across America, including Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Crossing state lines to participate in violent rioting is a felony that is charged at the federal level.

“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,” Mr Barr said in a statement released by the Justice Department.

“In many places it appears the violence is planned, organised, and driven by far left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics,” the attorney general said.

Meanwhile, local leaders in Minneapolis have emphasised that white supremacists and other malign outside actors – some possibly foreign – have also been responsible for inciting violence at protests there.

“We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organised crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region,” Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement on Saturday.

Yet the truth may be more complicated. While officials have claimed up to 80 per cent of those arrested in Minneapolis were from out of state, local media enquiries suggested this was not the case. Many of the protesters interviewed by The Independent in recent days, both black and white, said they were from the two cities of Minneapolis and St Paul.

The issue of assigning blame has important ramifications, especially given that many black-owned businesses were damaged or destroyed over several nights of mayhem. Many people have said those responsible could not have been from the community. Others have said carrying out acts of destruction was the only way to get people’s attention and to force action.

Thousands of Americans in cities all across the country took to the streets on Friday and Saturday to protest police brutality after an unarmed black man, George Floyd, died last week while being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. The protests have spread to more than 30 cities, reaching from coast to coast and taking in states such as Colorado and Georgia.

Mr Floyd, 46, died on 25 May after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes even though Mr Floyd did not have a weapon and complained he couldn’t breathe. Mr Floyd’s death became a national cry for action against police brutality after videos emerged of the incident.

Mr Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.

The protests against police brutality over the last several days in Minneapolis and other major US cities such as Atlanta, Brooklyn, Washington DC and Chicago have led to heated confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement, some of which have broken out into small pockets of violence. There have been several documented instances of looting, vandalism, and arson of entire buildings over the last week.

Thousands of Americans in cities all across the country were hit with pepper spray, tear gas, or police batons on Friday and Saturday.

Law enforcement units have fired rubber bullets at local journalists, and a CNN reporter and his production crew were arrested in Minneapolis on Friday for shooting live film in a part of the city that the Minnesota state patrol was trying to block off to the public.

On Saturday, protesters gathered outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta, where some people shattered windows and tagged profanities on the building with spray paint.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Saturday his belief that far-left elements such as Antifa and far-right militants who have recently adopted the name “Boogaloo” are “taking advantage of the protests” in American cities to encourage and commit violence.

“Many of these professional agitators don’t fit a simple left vs right identity. They are part of a growing anti-government extremist movement. They hate law enforcement & want to tear the whole system down even if it requires a new civil war,” Mr Rubio wrote on Twitter.

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