On Monday, Richmond, Va., Police announced they had arrested 12 people after a riot on Sunday night. At a press conference, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said every suspect was affiliated with antifa to some degree or another. He also noted that antifa activists had embedded themselves among peaceful protesters.
“Peaceful protesters are here and they come out, and they actually get their message out and they adhere to the laws as best they can,” Smith said at a press conference on Monday, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. “However there is that element of antifa or antifa-like subjects who have to embed themselves into larger, peaceful protests in order to cause disruption.”
“Antifa’s whole object is chaos and disruption,” the police chief explained.
A group of violent rioters broke away from a peaceful protest march on Sunday, damaging fencing and defacing buildings with paint. When police detained the rioters, they seized various weapons of chaos from the antifa instigators, including spray paint, a hammer, a smoke device, flares, and other incendiary devices.
Antifa radicals and their fellow travelers often argue that antifa is a decentralized movement, so the riots cannot be directly traced to it. However, antifa radicals have defended and instigated the violence, and many of the rioters carrying out destruction in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and Richmond have publicly identified themselves as antifa.
“Much like we used to see with gang activity, people may not necessarily be a gang member, but they are gang-affiliated or gang-related. They are not yet in there but they are moving that way,” Chief Smith insisted. Antifa’s “influence and philosophies” spur on the riots.
Smith explained that two of the suspects marched along with the 381 Movement, which the police chief described as peaceful and law-abiding.
“Inside, a couple of antifa, or antifa-like type people, embedded themselves. As we watched that protest go on, we saw these two protesters, these two rioters, begin spray-painting and tagging along the way. We kept our eye on them. As soon as the protest with 381 [Movement] ended, the antifa people moved into play,” the chief noted.
Police declared an unlawful assembly just before 11 p.m. on Sunday, after a group blocking the travel lanes of the street failed to comply with dispersal orders and after rioters damaged property. Authorities charged 11 people with unlawful assembly, two with destruction of property, two with obstruction of police, and one with rioting.
Last month, antifa rioters in Richmond set a dump truck on fire, seemingly intending to burn down the nearby police station. Those riots destroyed at least $100,000 in property, according to Virginia Commonwealth University.
In Senate testimony early this month, Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, warned that “Antifa and its allies have made rioting an art form in Portland. Unless we take action, what is happening in Portland today will soon be happening in cities across the country.”
At antifa events, “hundreds of so-called protesters work together” and “both violent and non-violent participants play a role,” with the non-violent acting as “human shields,” Ngo explained. Agitators beak into units, “one to monitor police movement, one for street medics, one for vandals and arsonists, and so on.” Due to this regimentation, some rioters can later claim that those involved in the riots are “medics,” as protesters did in a recent Seattle lawsuit.
“Antifa has mastered the art of making its violence appear innocuous,” Ngo testified. “For example, projectiles that look like water balloons can be filled with chemicals; small slingshots can be used to project rocks, glass, and ball bearings into police lines; umbrella tips can be fastened with discrete pocket knives; powerful handheld lasers can cause serious damage to the eyes.” (Indeed, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli testified that 113 out of the 277 injuries federal officers suffered in Portland involved eye injuries, many caused by industrial lasers.)
Antifa agitators also “have access to a rich stream of cash from GoFundMe” and other online crowdfunding sites. “Any street rioter who is arrested is instantly bailed out.”
Ngo concluded by warning that “antifa’s goal is not just to bring down the criminal justice system but to bring down the republic itself.”
Indeed, Portland activist Lilith Sinclair explained the mentality behind her “protest:” “There’s still a lot of work to undo the harm of colonized thought that has been pushed onto Black and indigenous communities.” As examples of “colonized thought,” she mentioned Christianity and the “gender binary.” She said she organizes for “the abolition of … the United States as we know it.”
Marxist critical theory encourages people to deconstruct various aspects of society — such as capitalism, science, the nuclear family, the Judeo-Christian tradition, even expectations of politeness (as the Smithsonian briefly taught) — as examples of white oppression. This inspires an aimless and destructive revolution.
When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue, in reference to The New York Times‘ “1619 Project,” which redefines America as fundamentally racist and oppressive. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post “Call them the 1619 riots,” 1619 founder Nicole Hannah-Jones responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the defamation of American Founding Fathers like George Washington.
In a November 9, 1995, op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
Yet the “1619 riots” have arguably oppressed black people far more than the U.S. supposedly does. The riots have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
A destructive far-left ideology motivates these riots, and many in the Democratic Party seem happy to ignore or downplay the violence because they agree with the ideology behind them.
Americans across the political spectrum must denounce the antifa agitators who bring violence and destruction to cities across the country. This lawlessness must not be tolerated.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.