Antifa, an anti-fascist group that used the black bloc tactic during the Milo Yiannopoulos protest at UC Berkeley in February, is now the subject of a petition that aims to declare it a terrorist organization.
The online petition, created by Spanish resident Fiona Quintero about one month ago, defines terrorism as “the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror or fear, in order to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim.” It alleges that Antifa has repeatedly completed acts of terrorism. The petition is addressed to President Donald Trump and has gathered nearly 70,000 supporters.
“People fear you not because they’re secretly Nazis, but because you instill fear and terror in the lives of innocent people who have nothing to do with you and your crusade,” Quintero said in her petition.
The petition’s goal is 75,000 signatures and asks that Trump formally declare Antifa a domestic terror organization.
A UC Berkeley student and Antifa member, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety, explained that Antifa is a “horizontal movement (that resists) all forces of the right-wing.” The student said the group’s militant actions were necessary in situations where peaceful dialogue couldn’t resolve the issues.
“We need to be able to engage so that fascist forces are not normalized. We want to stop toxic ideologies from being organized,” the student said. “There was a peaceful side to it, but there is also a direct action side to it.”
The student said Antifa doesn’t care about the petition, emphasizing that it would not stop the group members from expressing their views.
“The right wing can do what they want; they can stigmatize us, criminalize us,” the student said. “We’re still going to … disrupt what they’re trying to do. I personally don’t care.”
East Bay Young Republicans President Adam Castle, however, described Antifa’s actions as “wrong” and “un-American” in an email. He added that he was against oppression and fascism but didn’t agree with the violent tactics of Antifa, which he said seek to suppress free discourse.
But Castle also said in his email he didn’t believe the petition would realistically pass.
“I believe the petition raises an interesting question but think it would be premature to designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization,” Castle said in his email. “That said, I see the petition more as a symbolic condemnation of intolerance and violence rather than an actual call to action.”
Staff writer Bobby Lee contributed to this report.