Some radical groups may be struggling to prolong confrontations, even as multiple riots took place over the weekend, with clashes between Antifa and its allies and law enforcement in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and D.C.
In Washington, D.C., rioters vandalized the Christopher Columbus statute outside Union Station. In clashes with police, four people were arrested for assaulting police and possessing a “destructive device.” While “destructive device” has a broad definition under D.C. law, this most likely refers to commercial fireworks which are commonly used by Antifa to target both law enforcement personnel and structures in order to start fires. In Portland, an Apple store was burned during riots, according to dramatic images shared on social media.
In Minneapolis two national guardsmen were injured after gunmen opened fire on them in a drive-by attack. The officers were not seriously injured. The Minnesota National Guard has been activated in Minneapolis since the death of Daunte Wright in a police shooting that resulted in almost immediate violent riots.
In New York, police were attacked by a man with a Molotov cocktail following a traffic stop. During the stop, the driver threw an unknown liquid into the face of one police officer, fled, then threw a Molotov cocktail at other responding officers. Police say they recovered multiple similar incendiary devices in the man’s vehicle.
The violence this weekend comes on the heels of another police shooting, in which Chicago Police responding to a report of “shots fired,” shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Video camera footage allegedly shows Toledo holding a pistol moments before the shooting, and a pistol was recovered from the scene.
There are signs that the operational tempo of the near nightly violent protests is beginning to take its toll on anarchist organizers.
The Youth Liberation Front (YLF)’s Pacific North West chapter tweeted:
Last summer people really burnt themselves out, one of the many causes of this was tying [sic] to protest every day. In theory this might seem like a great idea but in practice it burns people out, making actions less effective. Quality> quantity.
That message was retweeted by Rose City Antifa, the leading Antifa group in Portland. The D.C. Chapter of Black Lives Matter responded in agreement.
Police abolitionist and autonomist Antifa groups in Minneapolis have expressed growing concerns regarding the rate at which their supporters have been arrested. Minnesota United Against Fascism (MNUAF) warned participants to avoid arrest if possible, posting on social media:
If you are headed out tonight remember- we need you back in the streets tomorrow, so try not to get arrested. Every arrest is a win for the state because it shrinks our numbers and drains our resources. Don’t be their prisoner of war unless absolutely necessary.
A Minneapolis-based account Minnesota Uprising (MN Uprising) described in a series of tweets how fear of a mass arrests prematurely broke up a protest outside the Brooklyn Center police precinct over the weekend.
Police tactics to prevent rioters from escaping before making mass arrests –a technique activists call “kettling”—is a major concern for Antifa, as it can result in participants being captured and publicly identified. Antifa groups expend considerable effort to train tactics to prevent or break out of potential police kettles during confrontations.
Meanwhile, Antifa in the Pacific Northwest continue to struggle with infiltration problems following the revelation of an informant’s testimony which led to the arrest of 19-year old Amber Raven-Guido on charges of felony arson.
Seattle YLF was prominently featured in a leaked video showing an after-action report by members following a direct action/march. In the video, which was distributed on Youtube by an account called “Antifa Leaks” shows YLF organizers providing new participants with instructions on security and where to find information about upcoming actions.
Meanwhile Rose City Antifa tweeted:
[For what its worth] if someone in bloc tells you they’re “from Rose City Antifa” but doesn’t offer you a way to confirm it (either by emailing us or referring you to somebody who can reliably verify our identity) then its safe to assume you didn’t just meet somebody from Rose City Antifa.
Rose City faced its own issues. An undercover conservative journalist from Project Veritas infiltrated the group, acquiring documents, including training curriculum, and providing video of street fighting training being carried out by the group. “Bloc” in this context means the all-black “uniforms” of Antifa members used to conceal their identities.
Tweets from the DC Youth Liberation Front expressed concern that members may be at risk of being identified and urged members to “burn their bloc” after conflict with law enforcement.
There is also continued tension between anarchists and some representatives of Black Lives Matter groups. In Portland, the Police Abolitionist group Rising PDX called out Portland-based BLM groups for seeking to hijack and watering down protests calling them “liberal swoopers,” meaning they “swoop” in and dominate protests planned by other groups.
In Minneapolis, Antifa social media accounts called out a black armed group known as Minnesota Freedom Fighters, accusing them of working with law enforcement to prevent attacks on police at Brooklyn Center protests.
The Minnesota Freedom Fighters (MFF), who have provided armed security for BLM protests, describe themselves as an “elite security unit dedicated to protect the citizens and businesses of the Minneapolis urban areas” and say they act as a bridge between local police and the community. Anarchist groups accuse the MFF of “peace policing,” which means acting to prevent violent tactics at protests. This violates the radical principle of “diversity of tactics” which calls for non-violent protestors not to criticize or interfere with violent ones. They also allege MFF has received funds from the city of Minneapolis to influence protests to remain peaceful.
Minneapolis and several other cities with strong Antifa and BLM contingents are bracing for outbreaks of violence following the Derek Chauvin trial, which entered closing arguments this week. While Antifa groups have shown that they can maintain violent unrest for long periods of time, it comes at a cost.
Law enforcement efforts should continue to exploit observable weakness, utilizing “kettling” and the presence of informants and undercovers –where agency policy and doctrine permit them—to disrupt Antifa operations.