A group identifying themselves as an anarchist and anti-fascist collective released a video on April 28, 2021 targeting Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. The video ends with a screenshot image which purports to show the Mayor’s home address.
The short two minute video shows a masked individual wearing the characteristic Antifa “black bloc” (all black clothing intended to make identifying individuals more difficult) and wearing a white mask. The individual speaks into the camera and calls for abolition (meaning abolition of the police and government generally) and condemns peaceful protest as ineffective. The video ends with a threat:
Ted [Wheeler], we are asking you for the last time that you resign. If you ignore this message outright the destruction to your precious way of life is going to escalate. Blood is on your hands Ted, and next time it may even be your own.
There are a number of reasons to assess the video as authentic. The script reflects an obvious knowledge of anarchist ideology and speech patterns and uses ideological terms correctly. For example, the speech begins with a statement that the speakers are not speaking on behalf of the entire movement. This is characteristic of anarchist propaganda releases, where as a claim to speak on behalf of “Antifa” would be uncharacteristic and likely evidence of a fake.
The account which made the video is @knotathreat, and it was created in April of this year. The display name “Nefelibata33_” is a reference to the ancient Greek word “Nefelibata” meaning “Day Dreamer” and remains in use in some Latin American cultures.
The account bio features no other information except for a set of numbers “23 5 1 18 5 12 9 2 5 18 1 20 9 14 7 16 15 18 20 12 1 14 4”. This turns out to be an extremely simple replacement cipher for the phrase “We are liberating Portland.”
The video features the speaker at a number of Portland locations, including a Portland streetcar station, The Justice Center, The Waterfront Park and the Portland Oregon Stag sign. All of these locations appear to be within a radius of about six city blocks from each other. Interestingly a trendsmap.com heat map of twitter engagement for the account @knotathreat, shows significant activity in this same area. This could suggest that the user of the @knotathreat account was utilizing other accounts to boost interaction with the video to raise its profile, but this is not confirmed.
Early interactions with the account included multiple calls for subtitles or captioning. This is common behavior among Antifa social media, as users regard not accounting for the possibility of deaf users to be “ableism.” Captions were soon provided by other user accounts, several of which are known Portland Antifa accounts, suggesting that the video was being immediately treated as genuine by members of the movement.
The Post Millennial, whose editor Andy Ngo routinely covers Antifa in great detail, reported that the first twitter user to interact with the @knotathreat account was identified as a known Antifa supporter and leftwing journalist, whose own twitter profile featured an extremely similar mask to the one appearing in the video. That individual denies being responsible for making the video, claiming to have shared it upon request.
Interestingly, following The Post Millennials release, the @knotathreat account appears to have become more active, posting a 33-second video which featured part of a Wheeler speech, with what appears to be video game style music and followed by a laugh track. A subsequent post says “the video was for my family” a reference to a meme popular among Antifa accounts.
Wheeler has earned the ire of Antifa after issuing a statement calling on citizens to oppose the “self-described anarchist mob” following Antifa riots in January of this year. While he continues not to identify Antifa by name, he has subsequently urged rioters to be unmasked and arrested.
As noted in a previous report, Antifa has been under some degree of stress lately, following a rash of informants in the Pacific Northwest, and other issues. It has been characteristic of left-wing violent movements that stress can result in both the formation of splinter groups as well as an escalation of tactics.
Despite this recent account hiding behind memes and claiming that the initial video does not represent an intentional threat, law enforcement should take the issue extremely serious. Antifa has a history of inspiring violence, as well as regarding members who engage in open violence and even murder of their opponents to be martyrs and heroes.