- Donald Trump tweeted the terrorist designation for antifa on Sunday afternoon
- On Saturday, Trump blamed antifa for violent protests over George Floyd's death
- Minnesota Gov Tim Walz suggested that foreign influences, white supremacists and drug cartels were responsible for the violent protests in Minneapolis
- But Trump said: 'It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don't lay the blame on others!'
President Donald Trump declared Sunday afternoon that the anti-fascist left-wing movement known as ANTIFA will be designated as a terrorist group.
'The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,' the president tweeted.
On Saturday Trump blamed ANTIFA for violent nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz suggested that foreign influences, white supremacists and drug cartels are fueling chaos.
'It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don't lay the blame on others!' Trump said in a tweet on Saturday, referring to the militant far-left movement, short for 'anti-fascism', that is known for violence.
Widespread looting, arson and violence continued in Minneapolis and multiple other major cities across the U.S. on Saturday, leaving three dead and dozens more injured. It was the third day of such demonstrations.
Echoing the president, Attorney General Bill Barr said on Saturday that 'the voices of peaceful protest are being hijacked by radical elements'.
'Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,' Barr said in an on-camera statement.
'In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and far-left extremist groups using antifa-like tactics.'
'It is a federal crime to cross state lines or use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting and we will enforce those laws,' he added, saying that the FBI, US Marshals, DEA, ATF and US Attorney's Offices would fully support local and state law enforcement in restoring order and cracking down on violence.
Earlier on Saturday, Gov Walz suggested domestic terrorists or foreign influences might be subverting peaceful protests and turning them to violence.
Walz said the riots in Minneapolis had begun to resemble a 'military operation' and that he was actively weighing whether to accept military and intelligence assistance from The Pentagon.
'Last night is a mockery of pretending that this is about George Floyd's death, or inequities, or historical traumas to our communities of color,' said Walz, a Democrat.
'The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd, it is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities,' Walz said.
'As you saw this expand across the United States, and you start to see whether it be domestic terrorism, whether it be ideological extremists to fan the group, or whether it be international destabilization of how our country works,' he continued.
On Friday night, Walz hinted that white supremacists and drug cartels may be fueling violence or taking advantage of the chaos in the rioting.
Pressed by reporters on rumors that white supremacists were secretly infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests and instigating violence, Walz said: 'My suspicions and what I've seen on this, yes.'
'It gets worse than that,' Walz said. 'The cartels, who are wondering if there was a break in their drug transmissions, are trying to take advantage of the chaos. That's why this situation is on a federal level.'
WHAT IS THE ANTI-FASCIST MOVEMENT (ANTIFA)
The anti-fascist protest movement known as antifa gained new prominence in the United States after the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017.
In Charlottesville and at many subsequent events held by white supremacists or right-wing extremists, antifa activists have aggressively confronted what they believe to be authoritarian movements and groups.
While most counter-protestors tend to be peaceful, there have been several instances where encounters between antifa and the far-right have turned violent.
These violent counter-protesters are often part of 'antifa' (short for 'antifascist'), a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. Their ideology is rooted in the assumption that the Nazi party would never have been able to come to power in Germany if people had more aggressively fought them in the streets in the 1920s and 30s.
Most antifa come from the anarchist movement or from the far left, though since the 2016 presidential election, some people with more mainstream political backgrounds have also joined their ranks.
The antifa sometimes use a logo with a double flag, usually in black and red. The antifa movement began in the 1960s in Europe, and had reached the US by the end of the 1970s. Most people who show up to counter or oppose white supremacist public events are peaceful demonstrators, but when antifa show up, as they frequently do, they can increase the chances that an event may turn violent.
Antifa have expanded their definition of fascist/fascism to include not just white supremacists and other extremists, but also many conservatives and supporters of President Trump.
Because there is no unifying body for antifa, it is impossible to know how many 'members' are currently active. Different localities have antifa populations of different strengths, but antifa are also sometimes willing to travel hundreds of miles to oppose a white supremacist event.