A petition urging the White House to declare antifa groups ‘terrorists’ has accumulated more than 200,000 signatures in four days.
The petition, hosted on the White House’s ‘We the People’ sub-site, claims that the decentralized group of anti-fascist activists meets the criteria for terrorism because it uses ‘violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims.’
‘It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety,’ the petition reads.
A petition on the White House website calling for members of Antifa – or anti-fascist – groups to be classed as ‘terrorists’ has received more than 200,000 signatures in four days. Pictured is an Antifa group protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12
According to the rules of ‘We the People,’ any petition that gathers more than 100,000 signatures in 30 days is due a response from the White House.
The petition ‘Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization,’ which was posted on Thursday by someone known as ‘AH’, had gathered more than 200,000 by Monday afternoon.
It claims that Antifa – the general term for a loose collection of anti-fascist organizers has earned the label ‘terrorist’ for ‘due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States.’
It gives no evidence for either claim – including the remark about influencing the killing of police officers.
Anti-fascism as a movement has been around for around a century, but has reached a particular prominence since the violence seen in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One woman was killed and 19 injured when a white supremacist drove into a crowd of counter-protesters at the Unite the Right rally on August 12.
Since then, Donald Trump has come under fire for quavering about condemning white supremacists, and for equating neo-Nazis with their anti-fascist counter-protesters.
If Antifa groups are declared terrorists it will come as a surprise to many, as they do not fit traditional terrorist models.
Although Antifa groups have committed violence, it is usually in mutually antagonistic clashes, such as this fight between pro-Trump (left) and Antifa (right) groups on April 15. That puts it outside the federal definition which says terrorism is violence against noncombatant targets
And federal law defines terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.’
While Antifa has engaged in violence, the instances commonly seen in the media involve mutual combat with violent members of white supremacist groups in rallies.
They also do not have a single controlling body or unifying political mission, unlike many terrorist organizations, such as ISIS or Al Qaeda.
Instead, they formed of independent, politically diverse groups, though typically from the left of the political spectrum.
That doesn’t mean Antifa groups haven’t faced fire from the left, however; liberal commentators have denounced Antifa violence for legitimizing retaliatory violent action from the right.
An Atlantic commentator wrote: ‘They’re troubling tactically because conservatives use antifa’s violence to justify – or at least distract from- the violence of white supremacists, as Trump did in his press conference.
‘They’re troubling strategically because they allow white supremacists to depict themselves as victims being denied the right to freely assemble.
‘And they’re troubling morally because antifa activists really do infringe upon that right.’
Although a response is promised by the We the People website, not every petition that has reached the 100,000 signatures mark has received a response.
One that has not been answered is a demand that Trump’s investments be divested or put in a blind trust, which received 353,496 signatures.
Antifa groups also lack a central governing body or unifying political aim, unlike most terrorist groups. Pictured is another clash from April 15 at Berkeley, California