Since 2016, Federal officials have classified the actions of a group of leftist extremists known as “antifa” – short for anti-fascists – as “domestic terrorist violence.”
Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been warning local officials since then that antifa attacks can happen again, according to interviews and confidential law enforcement documents, POLITICO said in an exclusive report.
“Since well before the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, DHS has been issuing warnings about the growing likelihood of lethal violence between the left-wing anarchists and right-wing white supremacist and nationalist groups,” POLITICO reported.
The deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville spiraled out of control, resulting in the death of a 32-year-old woman when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors on Water Street, as well as the death of two Virginia State Troopers who were patrolling the assembly in a helicopter.
According to POLITICO:
“Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that ‘anarchist extremists’ were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of ‘the capitalist system,’ racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.
After President Donald Trump’s election in November, the antifa activists locked onto another target — his supporters, especially those from white supremacist and nationalist groups suddenly turning out in droves to hail his victory, support crackdowns on immigrants and Muslims and to protest efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy.
Those reports appear to bolster Trump’s insistence that extremists on the left bore some blame for the clashes in Charlottesville and represent a ‘problem’ nationally. But they also reflect the extent that his own political movement has spurred the violent backlash.”
According to one senior state law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that is now on the front line of clashes between groups: “It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them. These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people. … They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows,” POLITICO reported.
“Everybody is wondering, ‘What are we gonna do? How are we gonna deal with this?’ Every time they have one of these protests where both sides are bringing guns, there are sphincters tightening in my world. Emotions get high, and fingers get twitchy on the trigger,” the senior state law enforcement official said, POLITICO reported.
Police have since charged a 20-year-old man with intentionally driving a car into the crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville, according to reports. The Ohio man is reportedly a Nazi sympathizer.
The rally was held in Emancipation Park around a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
In addition to Heyer’s death, two Virginia State Police Troopers died in a helicopter crash while they were patrolling the rally from above.