Oct 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Most arrested in protests are not associated with antifa

Picture of a police vehicle on fire in a protest in Salt Lake City

Protesters demonstrate as a Salt Lake City police vehicle burns on May 30. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Antifa may be a focus on the right, but it's hard to find in the court system.

Why it matters: Very few of the people charged in this summer's protests and riots appear to be affiliated with highly organized extremist groups, reports AP.

  • In thousands of pages of court documents reviewed by AP, the only apparent mention of antifa is in a Boston case in which authorities said an FBI Gang Task Force member was investigating “suspected ANTIFA activity associated with the protests” when a man fired at him and other officers.
  • Authorities have not claimed that the man accused of firing the shots is a member of antifa, the umbrella term for leftist militant groups.

The big picture: More than $1 billion in damage was estimated after the uprisings following the death of George Floyd, as Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reported last month.

  • That property damage was accompanied by violence, including wounded police officers, looting and arson.
  • But many of those charged had no previous run-ins with the law and no apparent ties to antifa, AP notes.

Between the lines: Many of those charged are young people from the suburbs.

By the numbers: More than 40% of those facing federal charges are white, AP reports. At least a third are Black, and about 6% Hispanic.

  • Most are men.
  • More than 2/3 are under 30.
  • More than 1/4 have been charged with arson, which if convicted means a five-year minimum prison sentence.
  • More than a dozen are accused of civil disorder, and others are charged with burglary and failing to comply with a federal order.

The bottom line: FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress earlier this year that antifa is a "real thing," but it's hard to track because it's "not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology."

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