It should be abundantly clear to anyone paying attention that the violence we have seen in numerous cities across America for more than a year is not a spontaneous, genuine response to the killing of George Floyd, or indeed any specific incident of policing, but rather part of an organized insurrection prepared by anarcho-Marxist organizations. Yet while it is the responsibility of the federal government to respond to such threats, evidence suggests the Biden Administration cannot be relied upon to uphold its responsibilities in this regard.
Vice-President Kamala Harris endorsed the views of these insurrection organizers when she publicly declared the United States as mired in “systemic racism.” It is possible to disapprove of the actions of police in a given incident while at the same time opposing the revolutionary element that is orchestrating rioting and looting but the Biden Administration has largely declined to do so.
Antifa and associated groups commandeered genuine frustration and outrage and hijacked them to instigate violence and destruction. Their rhetoric and manifestos reveal a radical agenda designed to fundamentally alter American society. In short, Antifa is a seditious movement whose goal it is to overthrow the US constitution.
Antifa is clearly a terrorist organization. In fact, it is a terrorist organization with a global reach, with cells in at least 18 countries. Its modern origins go back to the Red Army Faction in West Germany during the Cold War. Antifa aims to overthrow the US constitution. It should be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, its leaders apprehended and its networks disbanded.
Yet the Biden administration’s reluctance to address the threat, together with the sad reality that many “mainstream” liberal and progressive leaders have strenuously defended Antifa and its ilk, is further evidence that it will be increasingly difficult to address this national security challenge at the federal level for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, the United States’ federal system allows states the opportunity to pass effective laws for their own security. While states have no power to designate terrorist groups, they can target the criminal activities that these terrorists utilize. One state currently leading in this regard is Florida, where Governor Ron Desantis has made combatting the tactics and methods employed by Antifa a top priority in Florida’s 2021 legislative session.
HB1, the first bill introduced in Tallahassee this year, was the “Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.”
This omnibus bill was aimed squarely at Antifa and its enablers, and works by criminalizing many of the techniques these groups have used in other locales, particularly in Antifa strongholds like Portland and Seattle.
Signed into law less than a week ago, the Act has 11 key provisions each targeted at specific Antifa behavior. The act:
- Prohibits violent or disorderly assemblies, making it a felony when 7 or more individuals get together and cause property damage or injure others. Antifa routinely initiates this sort of action yet escapes serious criminal penalty.
- Prohibits the common Antifa practice of deliberately obstructing roadways by making it a felony to do so during a riot. Drivers who injure rioters while attempting to flee a mob are also protected from liability.
- Makes it a felony to topple or destroy official historic monuments. Like China’s notorious Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, Antifa has frequently initiated violent riots in order to destroy historic monuments.
- Makes it a crime to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant, something that Antifa has done in multiple cities.
- Attaches Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act liability to anyone who organizes or funds a riot. RICO is a very powerful tool for law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as creating enhanced civil causes of action for those harmed by riots. This is important as it would provide criminal and civil tools for targeting the organizers of the riots and not just participants.
- Creates a mandatory 6-month prison sentence for striking a law enforcement officer during a riot. In some locales around the country, corrupt District Attorneys have declined to prosecute rioters for assaulting police.
- Increases penalties for those who throw an object that strikes someone during a riot, assault and battery during a riot, and participation in a riot by a citizen from out of state. Antifa is largely a “travel squad” whose members routinely move about the country to riot. The use of projectiles is a major element of Antifa violence and routinely injures police officers.
- Removes state grants or aid to any local government that “defunds the police.” Putting pressure on local governments to defund police is a major element of Antifa’s larger ideological goal of police abolition.
- Enables a victim of a riot to sue a local government that refuses to enforce the law against rioters by waiving sovereign immunity. In many cases ideological-aligned city council members and district attorneys have refused to prosecute rioters.
- Terminates state benefits and makes anyone convicted of a crime during a riot ineligible for state employment. This provision is in response to numerous public school teachers identified as Antifa members arrested at riots. In one case a staff member of the Oregon Speaker of the House, was arrested at an Antifa riot.
- Requires those arrested at a riot to make an appearance in court to be charged with a crime before being eligible for bail. This provision was in response to numerous reports of Antifa rioters being let out of jail almost immediately thanks to leftist-funded legal defense funds, including the bail fun supported by then Senator, now Vice President, Kamala Harris.
Other states have similar legislation in the works. While ultimately addressing threats like Antifa should be a federal responsibility, there’s little prospect for successful action in the short to mid-term. State leaders need to consider how they will address antifa rioting tactics and prepare by giving local and state law enforcement the tools they need to stop the spread of Antifa’s seditious tactics and violent techniques.