August 5, 2017 Posted by Daryl Johnson in Domestic Extremism

BERKELEY, [CA]--Last semester’s protests at the University of California, Berkeley, challenged liberal presumptions about who exactly the good guys were. Anti-fascists, or Antifa, clad like ninjas and hellbent on silencing a speaker (the provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos), smashed windows and set fires. Clashes with right-wingers erupted again at rallies in March and April in support of free speech (a “messy pepper spray mosh pit,” as one anti-fascist described it). The Antifa collective, fueled by an emboldened right wing, has become a growing subculture, particularly on West Coast campuses. Fearful of being doxxed (having your personal information posted online) by “alt-right trolls,” anti-fascists are cautious about their identity. Most don’t even communicate over social media or phone. And many protest as a black bloc, a tactic ascribed to 1980s Germany in which a group protests anonymously, faces concealed by T-shirts, bandannas or masks to avoid detection and protect from pepper spray. Antifa is actually more label than organization, its believers connected by calls to action on websites like It’s Going Down. Anarchist, communist or just liberal, they oppose fascism with militant zeal. But some formalize into affinity groups like the Pastel Bloc; dressed in pastels — a play on the head-to-toe uniform of black bloc — they offer medical attention during protests. Black bloc is often seen as mostly white males looking to wreak havoc for their cause. A half-dozen Berkeley Antifa members who agreed to speak on record to us saw merit in that stereotype, but since the Trump inauguration, they said, those behind the masks represent the spectrum of gender and race. “People showing up to the protests are the ones with the most to lose,” said Neil Lawrence, a Berkeley student. Part of his decision to go public as a transgender anti-fascist is to counteract the stereotype. View More>>

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