(WHDH) — You’ve likely seen the clashes with police and other protesters, the trademark black clothing and covered faces turning up at various rallies and protests across the country. They call themselves Antifa.
The name is short for anti-facist and the group claims to be against neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Some of Antifa’s members were arrested this summer after a massive protest on Boston Common, according to the group. Antifa doesn’t have a public list of members and very little is known about the group. Individuals claiming to be part of Boston’s Antifa spoke with 7News’ Justin Dougherty through Facebook. They said many of their members are between 18 and 30 years old and consider themselves either socialists, communists or anarchists. Members say there are almost a dozen Antifa-linked groups in the Boston area with at least several hundred members.
The group says its ultimate goal is to “make it completely impossible for the far-right to organize,” adding that “sometimes causing damage and mass disruption is our last option.”
But not everyone agrees with the group’s purpose or methods.
“They are not only trying to stop the speech of the Nazis and the Klan,” says well-known lawyer and constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz. “They’re trying to stop all speech that they disagree with…We live in a country of law where the police will stop violence if it’s directed by the Nazis or the Klan and that’s their job. It’s not the job of anarchistic street gangs like Antifa.”
But Antifa members argue it is there job saying, “the police are inherently and historically a function of white supremacy.”
With Antifa’s anti-police stance, many believe it is crucial that law enforcement monitor the group’s movement as much as possible.
“It’s a group that’s growing,” says George Price, a Boston-based attorney with a background in law enforcement as a police officer, at the DEA and Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. “They’re showing up in much bigger numbers. In a lot of these protests, in such big numbers that it’s overwhelmed the police and they haven’t been able to deal with them in a safe way [and] people get hurt.”
Experts say police will look to pull agitators from protests, because if violence erupts, that only strengths the Antifa movement.
“We do not need storm troopers of the left or the right telling us what we can say and when we can say it,” says Dershowitz.
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