On Aug. 12 in Washington D.C., Unite the Right 2 has a municipal permit to demonstrate in Lafayette Park. Antifa, black bloc anarchists and Black Lives Matter people will rally some blocks away at Freedom Square. There will be a violent clash if police fail to keep these two groups apart.
In Portland, Oregon, a clash of two such opposing groups (Antifa vs. Patriot Prayer) occurred on August 4. Antifa and black bloc anarchists are extreme or violent leftists. The groups they oppose are a more varied mixture of what tend to be right-wing components.
Portland police subdued the group that initiated violence, which was Antifa: “Dozens of flash-bangs could be heard echoing on Columbia Street and videos showed a line of officers in riot gear charging the retreating crowd of Antifa members, which police said had been tossing bottles, rocks, smoke bombs, firework mortars, other liquids and using a slingshot.”
Antifa initiates violence as a rule. Antifa members take the position that they are entitled to attack the rightist groups in defense because the speech and public demonstrations of the rightist groups are actually violent and aggressive. Antifa’s position is untenable. Rightist organization and promotion of its agenda aims at change through the political system. Within the confines of the existing system of state power, this is a non-violent means of action. Therefore, rightist speech is not itself violent or aggression in this context.
The leftists have gotten their agenda passed into laws for decades. If the rightists now try to change the laws more to their liking, Antifa can’t justly change the rules of the game and attack them violently. That means that Antifa’s game is “I can hit you (through politics and laws), but you can’t hit me (through the same politics and laws)”, and “I can also beat you up and shut you up besides, declaring that I forbid even the expression of your political beliefs.” Such behavior is surely unjust, dictatorial and uncivilized.
Antifa in Portland had another theme of banishing the rightists: “Whose streets? Our streets!” Does Antifa own the streets of Portland or any city? Certainly not. Who owns the streets? The taxpayers who paid for them, whom we can call the public, owns them. The police and municipal authorities have a duty to prevent crime (the unlawful initiation of violence) on the city streets, including Antifa’s attacks.
Looking ahead to Aug. 12 in Washington, will the local police control and prevent violent confrontations? They should be able to. They have superior numbers and weapons. They have experience with demonstrations. There are several authorities and forces. The main question is whether they’ll spot lawbreakers and act accordingly in a timely manner.
Black bloc anarchists dress entirely in black, including masks, and they come armed and ready to make trouble. Masks prevent identification of troublemakers, just as robbers wear masks to avoid detection. Antifa violence elicits counter-measures from the rightists. The record of the black bloc anarchists is to initiate violence. As a preventive measure, a municipality, as part of its duty to keep the streets safe, should have an ordinance that forbids a collection of armed people with this kind of dress. It makes them anonymous and encourages their use of violence. The District of Columbia has an anti-mask law. Will it be enforced?9:06 am on August 6, 2018 Email Michael S. Rozeff