President Trump calls them anarchists and agitators, but who's really behind the violence rocking America and the calls to defund police? Why do they want to destroy this country and what is the president doing to crack down on them?
This week, an angry mob tried to remove the statue of President Andrew Jackson across the street from the White House in Washington, DC.
Last week, Antifa-linked rioters tore down a statue of President George Washington. And across the country, cities are buckling to pressure and removing statues of Christopher Columbus and others.
Now, there are growing calls for the removal of a statue in Boston of President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves.
"The left-wing mob is trying to demolish our heritage so they can replace it with a new oppressive regime that they can control," President Trump insisted.
The Department of Justice says left-wing groups, including Antifa, are leading instigators of protest violence. But who is Antifa?
It's an anti-fascist group formed originally in Germany in the 1930s. They were Stalinists who pledged to combat the Nazis. Here in America, these anarchists are based in the Northwest.
"One of their strengths that makes them effective is they stay in the shadows, they don't have a regular headquarters, regular funding. So, it makes it much harder to trace exactly what they are doing and it lets them always claim, 'oh well that is not us and you can't prove it,'" explained Capital Research Center President Scott Walter.
Walter said some recruits seek meaning and significance by opposing authority. "Almost anybody in Antifa is prepared to be violent. That is part of the essence of Antifa is you're brave and tough and manly and you're ready to be violent."
Antifa’s militant wing is called Redneck Revolt. One of its main goals is to abolish police departments nationwide.
"The Redneck Revolt is active in some places. It also goes by the name the John Brown Gun Club," Walter explained. "If you know your Civil War history, of course, John Brown shortly before the Civil War tried to have a violent revolt. "
An undercover reporter with Project Veritas recently infiltrated the group's North Carolina chapter.
"The group sees themselves as armed revolutionaries. And they believe in the total abolition of everything, including the police," she said. "There were multiple chapters of Redneck Revolt that went to Charlottesville and acted as the militia wing of the anti-fascist movement. One of their missions is to arm minorities."
Redneck Revolt invited the undercover journalist to the gun range. Initially accepted as a member, her social media activity led the group to eventually reject her.
"I had a Facebook post in support of a candidate for sheriff. And that's where they said to me, that's where we fundamentally disagree. We don't believe in reform of any kind. We believe in complete abolition of the system itself, including police."
A Los Angeles Police Department kiosk is set ablaze during a protest over the death of George Floyd, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
So, who funds Antifa and Redneck Revolt? Walter said they don't need a lot of money.
"How much money does it cost to get a black hoodie, a black face mask, and a couple of bricks, right? You don't need multi-million dollar grants to do that," he explained.
But how about other militant left-wing groups?
"We can find some places where money like George Soros will fund something called the Alliance for Global Justice and that is what is called a pass-through. It will then pass the money on to individual groups like Refuse Fascism which is an Antifa-style group which started after Trump was elected," Walter said.
So what can be done to stop these violent leftist groups?
President Trump is set to strengthen a statute against destroying monuments on federal property, which could mean up to 10 years in prison for violators.
And at least in the case of Antifa, the president and US Attorney General William Barr want them designated as terrorists.
John O'Connor, a former assistant federal prosecutor for northern California, disagrees. "You're burning the barn to roast the pig. I don't think you need to do it. I think if they are doing this in order to take advantage of some of the anti-terrorist laws, which are created by statute, I think you've got to show more of a foreign nexus," O'Connor insisted.
And that could be the Trump administration's biggest challenge in combating leftist violence: overseas support may be hard to prove. For now, it seems these leftist groups, although inspired by foreign movements, are homegrown – made in America.
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