What is Antifa?

Antifa and far-right group the Proud Boys had a violent encounter in Oregon that put a prominent conservative blogger in the hospital. But who are the American "anti-fascists?"

Anti-Facist Crash Course

8 people were injured in Portland, Oregon during a clash between right-wing groups and “antifa” during a right-wing rally. The conflict between conservative marchers and black-clad protesters in Portland, Ore., which left a conservative journalist roughed up and bloodied, has put new attention on a movement dedicated to confronting white supremacists and right-wing extremists, sometimes with violence. Antifa members campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic. Although antifa is not affiliated with other movements on the left — and is sometimes viewed as a distraction by other organizers — their members sometimes work with other local activist networks that are rallying around the same issues, such as the Occupy movement or Black Lives Matter.

Short for “anti-fascist,” Antifa refers to a collective of leftist groups employing militant or radical tactics to protest oppression of minorities and the disenfranchised people by the wealthy elite or racist governments. Antifa has its roots in resistance to neo-Nazism in Germany. Following the fall of the Berlin wall, groups have been active in the United States since the late 80s and 90s, where they were originally known as “anti-racist action” groups. It is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members. Its cohorts acknowledge that the movement is secretive, without official leaders and organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past few years to oppose the far right.

They notably wear all black and are often linked with other progressive groups as the Black Bloc. In response to the 2016 election, the Antifa movement in the U.S. has grown to approximately 200 groups. Many factions protested at President Trump’s inauguration, the 2017 Berkeley protests and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Despite being linked to “anarchist extremism” by political groups, the U.S. government does not classify Antifa as a terrorist organization according to The White House. Many Antifa activists say their goals are to ensure neo-Nazis and fascists can’t spout hateful rhetoric in peace.

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