Friday, April 5, 2019


There was a lot of hubbub over a recent report put out by the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (RICOC) documenting the battles between antifa and what the report refers to as "anti-antifa." Public reaction to this report seemed to be overwhelmingly negative, particularly the bibliography and the decision to refer to antifa's antagonists as "anti-antifa".

While there are throughout minor errors of fact, I felt like the report overall was...not terrible? Within the context of being a primer for law enforcement officials, the report does a pretty decent job of summarizing the antagonism between the antifascist left and the far right.

One of the most interesting thing I noticed about the report is the way neo-fascist rhetoric and political identity labels receive push back while antifascist rhetoric is largely left to stand on its own. For instance, the report summarizes antifa as "an alliance between anarchists and communists to confront and defeat fascists and white supremacists by whatever means necessary." This description is offered without qualification. Compare that to their description of the leadership of the alt-right:

Alt-Righters like to use terms such as "culture" as substitutes for more lightning-rod terms such as "race," or promote "Western Civilization" as a code for white culture or identity. They do not make explicit references to white supremacy such as the "14 words," a slogan used by neo-Nazis and other hardcore white supremacists....Even though Alt-Righters share the sentiment behind the "14 words," they're more inclinded to talk about preserving European-American identity.

In general, the history of these two groups, particularly that of antifa is well-documented. The report makes reference to the Arditi del Populo as the first anti-fascist formation and traces the history of the three most prominent antifa symbols (the two flags, the three arrows, and the "good night white pride" logo) with stunning accuracy. The last one I didn't even know the origin of.

As I mentioned, despite the stunning thoroughness of this 18 page document interspersed with large pictures, there are still some errors of fact. On the first page, the report mentions J20:

On Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C., Antifas infiltrated peaceful protests to inflict violence, destruct (sic) property, and erect barricades to disrupt flow of traffic.
In actuality, the inauguration day protests–all of them–were organized and coordinated by anti-fascists from the very beginning. The only infiltrators were various operatives of Project Veritas who were all quickly outed by organizers. The video and audio selectively edited by the group were used by prosecutors in the resulting mass riot trial that, through the haplessness and lawlessness of the state, ended in zero convictions.

Additionally, social justice organization By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) is described as an "Antifa terrorist organization," despite their most militant action having been the brawl that ensued as a result of a Traditionalist Workers Party rally in Sacramento. In actuality, they are a fiscally sponsored by United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It should be noted that this is one of only two times that the report uses the word "terrorist." In both instances, they refer to anti-fascists.

One major point of indiscretion, that has already been pointed out by others, is the choice to describe the far right in its entirety as "anti-antifa" which is described as "a loose collection of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Ku Klux Klanners, white identity groups, and a group called the Alt-Right." In actuality, those who self-identify as "anti-antifa" are typically not of any of these groups and are extreme right individuals who would like to distance themselves from the white hate movement despite fighting alongside them against anti-fascists. The group they define as "anti-antifa" in the report would best be described as the alt-right which sought to unite disparate factions of the anti-neocon right since 2011 and was largely successful at this beginning in 2015 and largely petering out by 2018 due to legal troubles, bad press, and infighting.

In all, this report does a pretty go job peeling back the rhetoric of the far right to lay bare their underlying ideology while doing a pretty good job of accurately describing antifa. This is certainly an improvement over the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security's assessment two years ago. Between the two reports, I'd much rather the pigs use this one.