A report released Wednesday by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office offers ways the state can do more in its attempts to counter "domestic terrorism" and "violent extremist attacks," citing cases of far-left violent extremism by Antifa in Portland.
While it doesn't mention Antifa directly, the 31-page report suggests actions the Legislature, Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), and Oregon State Police (OSP) can take to mitigate the risks posed by domestic, violent extremism statewide.
The advisory report outlining how the state could be more prepared to respond to the "alarming risk" of domestic terrorism and violent radicalism also focuses heavily on concerns related to the far-right and white supremacy, without offering the same level of scrutiny and topic exploration of far-left militancy.
Such a discrepancy is a concern in a report which argues that education on political extremism is paramount in building solutions to counteract it. The paper's objective of formalizing communications in terms of response is stonewalled by the ideological bias of leniency against far-left extremists on display therein.
The report doesn't mention Antifa by name even once. Bluntly speaking, success on the front that's described requires overcoming the political polarization and spite of far-left rioters wanting to see private and government property being burned down. But this report doesn't meet the mark. It mentions a "far-right" instance at the Oregon state Capitol on Dec. 21, 2020, but fails to see the comparisons between the prolonged Portland courthouse siege and the Jan. 6 riot.
Or lest we forget: leftists rioted during Trump's inauguration in January 2017.
Overall, the report advises that the state should focus on new laws and other measures to state governance, addressing threats within the government, securing infrastructure, and leveraging state grants designed to help prevent, prepare, and respond to catastrophic events, including "acts of terrorism."
The opening pages of the paper provides a breakdown in statistics about incidents of domestic violent extremism. The report's highlights label 2019 to 2021 as a turning point, with 11 such cases happening in 2020 alone in Oregon, amounting to half of the total overall of related incidents between 2011 to 2020.
"That alarming trend manifest itself dramatically in 2020 both nationally and within Oregon, culminating in violent attacks on the State Capitol Building on December 21, 2020 (see photo on the cover page), and the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021," it says, noting Oregon witnessed the sixth-highest number of domestic violent extremism incidents in the nation over the past decade.
A persistent theme within the document is not mentioning the prolonged siege of Portland's federal courthouse during violent Black Lives Matter summer 2020 riots, even though that was a place of prominent far-left Antifa activity.
The federal Mark O. Hatfield courthouse was a repeat target of Antifa extremists who tried to repeatedly burn down the building during the riots in 2020.
Wednesday's report mentions events like the Ruby Ridge Standoff, the Oklahoma City federal building that was bombed, and 9/11. But nowhere in the report's timeline of significant events through American history is a breakdown of the 2020 mass looting in Chicago. The merit of bringing that up is within the paper's own definition of aspects for consideration, that in part includes property damage.
In the aftermath of the initial days of the first and most destructive George Floyd riots, Minnesota had $55 million in repair costs ahead of them, alone. By early 2021, proposals had cost estimates in the range of hundreds of millions.
(Meanwhile, a timeline of Antifa protests-turned-riots between the year 2017 through the year 2019 would be very intense and violence-filled.)
"According to the FBI, the greatest terrorism threat is posed by lone offenders, often radicalized online, who look to attack soft targets, such as schools, places of worship, or businesses, with easily accessible weapons," the report says.
The closest allusion to Antifa is a reference to admitted Antifa member Michael Reinoehl who shot and killed Patriot Prayer associate Aaron "Jay" Danielson in August 2020. "This tension culminated in an act of domestic violent extremism when a member of the far-right group was shot and killed; a member of the far-left group was charged with his murder but was shot and killed days later by law enforcement officials," the report reads. Danielson's shooting death is summarized in the report's timeline as well under Portland's summer 2020 protests.
The report does itself a grave injustice for including graphs like the one above, without bothering to mention the July 2019 firebombing of an ICE facility in Washington state by Willem van Spronsen. It's an omission that's amplified given how the 69-year-old firebomber left a manifesto that expressed "I am Antifa."
Another prevalent theme throughout the report is how it relies on "anti-government" beliefs as an indicator of extremism. But the definition of "expressing hatred or intolerance of U.S. society or culture" took on very different meanings between the former Trump administration and the current Biden White House.
A difficult question that Oregon officials face is how Black Lives Matter riots fit within the framing of the report. In February 2022, BLM Louisville activist Quintez Brown allegedly attempted to assassinate mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg. The local BLM chapter reportedly bailed Brown out of jail.
The matter reaches the levels of now-Vice President Kamala Harris, who in June 2020 promoted the Minnesota Freedom Fund to bail out BLM rioters.
Where, as it turned out, the progressive bail fund group's money was in part used to release a domestic abuser charged with murder in a road-rage slaying.
"The threat of domestic terrorism posed by lone actors and white supremacist groups is a high national security priority for the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security," the report says. What's missing is what's chalked up to the political binders. Governmental bodies can't have a discussion about the damages caused by Black Lives Matter riots while Harris is in office.
In other parts, the Oregon Secretary of State's report tries to paint a link between domestic extremism and online forums that facilitate the discourse. But as a recent analysis put forward by alternative-tech social network Minds.com has pointed out, it's the overtly censorious nature of "Big Tech" social media that sabotaged the purest form of exchanging ideas, which in itself neutralizes extremism.
Additionally, while the emphasis on recent years (2019, 2020, and 2021) plays a substantial role in the conversation from how things changed year-to-year, much is left unsaid about recent events like the 2022 anti-mandates trucker Freedom Convoy in downtown Ottawa, which in contrast to the 2020 siege of Portland's Justice Center, had absolutely minimal physical dangers and harms.
Another incident linked a left-wing journalist to an Antifa death threat made against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. This despite how earlier on, the Portland mayor found comparisons between Antifa and the Jan. 6 riot abhorrent.
A discussion surrounding how Wheeler got sucker punched in a restaurant by Antifa militants, how Wheeler had to flee his condo to avoid riots, and even Wheeler's own declaration of war against Antifa militants, needs to be had.
"Domestic terrorism's cascading effects may have a greater impact on communities already suffering economic distress, such as low-income and immigrant populations. As the threat from DVEs advocating for white supremacy continues to be the most lethal DVE threat to the U.S., it is critical the traumatic, negative effects from terrorist and extremist attacks be understood, mitigated, and, for victims of racially or ethnically motivated violence, responded to with adequate services and supports," the report continues to assert.
Again, the Oregon Secretary of State's report falls short here. In January 2022, Malik Faisal Akram took hostages at a Texas synagogue. His demand was for the release of Aafia "Lady al Qaeda" Siddiqui from a Texas federal prison. Questions were asked of Biden admin officials surrounding how this terrorist got into the United States. But moreover, the FBI couldn't even agree on the messaging surrounding how the hostage crisis was an attack on the Jewish community.
Yet this report out of Oregon doesn't give the FBI proper scrutiny when it comes to their professional responsibilities. Instead, it relies on them as this all-knowing higher body of authority to maintain public order. Although recent history has shown the agency's track record to be lacking in that regard.
It's an issue that was brought up directly earlier this year as FBI Director Chris Wray had to defend himself against Congress amid claims that the federal law enforcement agency is more inclined to be harsher towards Jan. 6 defendants in comparison to prosecuting those charged in the George Floyd riot cases.
The other agency brought up as an omniscient task force is the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this year, DHA Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted the Biden administration's ongoing border crisis in regards to illegal immigration is worse now than it has been in "at least 20 years, if not ever."
As aforementioned, the Oregon Secretary of State report highlights anti-government sentiment as an indicator of extremism. But as Townhall.com described the situation when it came to the meeting between Mayorkas and Border Patrol agents, at least one staff member physically turned his back away in a symbolic display. After the debunked Del Rio "horse whips" incident of September 2021, the infamous incident left Border Patrol agents feeling the Biden administration would readily abandon them at the first whiff of spectacle.
The pressing concern in the paper is about terrorism, and foreign threats (from as far away as Saudi Arabia) have since come across the US border since the start of the Biden administration, whose DHS was reportedly running "night flights" on the down-low filled with migrants bound for American cities.
This paper makes comparisons between the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001 and the Capito riot on Jan. 6, 2021: "Similar to events two decades ago, there are calls for changes within the government to mitigate the risk of a future event and to combat the growing threat of domestic terrorism and domestic violent extremism."
Families of 9/11 victims came out last year urging Democrats not to make that comparison or claim Jan. 6 was worse. But on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot, Harris compared the Capitol riot to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor anyway.
If there's genuine hope for meaningful action at the government level in evolving counter-extremism policies, playing into partisan political theater like what was just described doesn't contribute to that collective goal officials seek to achieve.
One of the fatal flaws of the Oregon report is how it links law enforcement needing help from civil society groups to properly address violent extremist activities:
"Although federal law enforcement is responsible for investigating domestic terrorist threats, they rely heavily upon the multi-disciplinary input about domestic terrorist and DVE threats from state and local partners. State and local entities play a vital role in detecting and mitigating the risk of these acts."
Yet in September 2020, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was revealed to be linked to donating to the Kentucky Bail Project, a group that supplied far-left Antifa rioters in their Louisville protest over the death of Breonna Taylor.
Despite this connection, the Oregon report's reliance on Big Tech groups like Google's Jigsaw bias the framing of discussion. Jigsaw was founded by Google's ex-CEO Eric Schmidt, whose been the subject of recent scrutiny surrounding his potential conflicts of interest in connection to the Biden White House.
The disparity is that the objective of understanding and further education surrounding the facilitation of extremism can only be met if official were to have a frank discussion surrounding the funding at play. How is law enforcement supposed to depend on civil society when Big Tech is both cooperating with authorities, and yet facilitating protests and riots within the United States?
Further, the report mentions a dynamic where law enforcement comes into play: general crime. "Terrorism can also impose far-reaching economic hardship. Depending on the nature of the events, businesses may close or relocate and an individual’s ability to work may be affected. Once these events instill trauma in a population, the reporting on future terrorist or violent extremist attacks may have additional, negative psychological effects on members of the wider population."
Portland's businesses begged city leaders for help to deal with day-to-day deteriorating neighborhood conditions. San Francisco businesses had to install security gates to prevent shoplifting. Rite Aids in places like New York City had to close because of skyrocketing thefts. The point being: When faced with a looter wielding a pickaxe, what distinction is there between terrorism and general crime? This report from Oregon's Secretary of State won't tell you the answer.
When it comes to the lack of mentions surrounding Antifa violence, journalist Andy Ngo would've been a valuable resource to provide the insight. Since the June 2019 protest where Antifa members attacked and injured him, he has been the most prominent critic when it comes to the tactics of the far-left.
Here in 2022, the ferocity of Antifa's threats were on display when the group made threats against Ngo's appearance at Dartmouth College, enough that the speaking event got canceled. Elsewhere, Antifa and far-left protesterse attacked those trying to attend a Matt Walsh speech at Georgia Tech. They've also pressured conservative groups out of demonstrating in progressive Seattle.
The shortcomings of the Oregon Secretary of State report are that it limits itself to parroting US government talking points and not having the wherewithal of asking what authorities have gotten wrong. Oregon, and namely Portland, being the focal point of attention is ironic given how Antifa is overlooked and not even named.
A meaningful discussion would entertain backlash from the actions of the Biden administration. It ought to have gone as far as exploring the response to hypothetical riots from food shortages and soaring energy costs, seeing as how that's becoming an apparent issue coming over the horizon in the months ahead.