President Donald Trump announced Sunday he would label the left wing groups Antifa a terrorist organization, following the assessment that the group has been behind some of the violent riots and vandalism occurring over the weekend.
“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” Trump tweeted.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Trump issued his tweet amid mass, nationwide protests following the death of a black man named George Floyd while he was in police custody.
The President’s announcement follows an assessment Saturday by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, that increasingly violent and destructive nationwide protests that have spread in response to Floyd’s death, have been “hijacked” by extreme left wing groups like Antifa.
“The voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” Barr said Saturday. “In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic, far-left extremist groups using Antifa like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”
Following Trump’s tweet, Barr also issued a Justice Department statement in which he also assessed Antifa has promoted destructive rioting, which he described as “domestic terrorism.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr’s statement said.
Video has shown a Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin placing his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck on Monday, prior to Floyd’s death. Protests initially started in Minneapolis, but while some demonstrations have been peaceful, others have turned to violence and destruction and spread to other cities.
Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest had been fired and on Friday Chauvin was charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder. Despite Chauvin’s arrest, rioting has continued.
The violence stemming from the rioting in cities across the country has seen one Department of Homeland Security officer in Oakland, California shot and killed and a second shot and in critical condition.
Three rioters in New York have also been arrested after throwing incendiary devices, known as molotov cocktails, including at an NYPD police van with four officers inside. Two of those rioters were also reported to be in possession of components to an explosive device when they were arrested.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct building was also set on fire Thursday night. A nearby Target store was also vandalized and an AutoZone across the street from the police building was also set on fire.
On Saturday Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced efforts to fully mobilize his state’s National Guard units in response to rioting. In his announcement, Walz also said violent demonstrators were no longer honoring Floyd’s memory, but were instead “about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great city.”