A report on Antifa was published in The Washington Post—conducted by a team of researchers that analyzed Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests—that found that Antifa's presence at such events "greatly increased the risk of violence."
Two sociology academics at Penn State analyzed data on the 2020 civil unrest and concluded the presence of Antifa at an event made violence much more likely.
The research found that Antifa's appearance at racial justice protests saw higher numbers of injuries and property damages than protests where they didn't appear.
"One of the most important reports on #antifa published in the mainstream press..." explained The Post Millennial's editor-at-large Andy Ngo, whose investigative reporting on Antifa has made international headlines. "They found what I did: Antifa's presence is the biggest predictor for violence."
The research first set out to define what exactly is Antifa, after discussing previous deflections made by leaders talking about the violence on Jan. 6, comparing it against the violent "radical left people" that were involved in the 2020 racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd's death.
"For most people antifa is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wearing a black mask," wrote sociologist Stanislav Vysotsky, the piece published in the Washington Post cited. While stating that Antifa, standing for anti-fascism, is an "ideological movement of loosely connected individuals and groups that oppose fascism and white supremacy," in the US, the piece said that "the 'antifa' moniker is most associated with a militant version of anti-fascism, particularly organizations including Rose City Antifa in Portland, Ore., and the Torch Antifa network."
The report found that Antifa groups use both "nonviolent tactics" like doxing and other forms of public shaming, as well as violence "to oppose fascist organizing, often responding to right-wing violence with similar tactics."
The study looked at two sources that collect event data: the Crowd Counting Consortium, and the Armed Conflict and Location and Event Data Project. While the CCC tended to undercount Antifa presence at racial justice protests, finding just six mentions, ACLED found that Antifa was present at 31 demonstrations.
The researchers concluded that out of the nearly 14,000 racial justice protests in 2020, Antifa was found to be at just 37, or 0.2 percent of these protests.
"That would not qualify as an infiltration of the Black Lives Matter movement," the researchers, a PhD candidate in sociology at Penn State and an emeritus distinguished professor of sociology at Penn State, wrote, noting that a majority of these occurrences happened in the Pacific Northwest, California, and Washington. DC. "When antifa did attend protests, the incidence of violence was extremely high compared to the level at protests it did not attend," they wrote.
Of these 37 appearances at racial justice protests, 11 of these involving Antifa resulted in crowd injuries, or 30 percent. When Antifa did not appear, only two percent of the protests resulted in crowd injuries. When Antifa was present, 14 percent of the protests involved police injuries, compared to around two percent at protests that did not have the group in attendance.
In terms of property damage, 27 percent of these protests that had Antifa present resulted in this, while this only occurred just four percent of the time without their appearance.
30 percent of protests involving appearances by Antifa resulted in arrests, compared to just seven percent of protests with the group’s absence.
"In other words, antifa appearances at racial justice protests greatly increased the risk of violence," the researchers wrote.
They continued on to question whether the right-wing groups were the real source of the violence given that Antifa tens to show up to counter their presence.
"That’s not what our research found. We saw no difference between events in which antifa was facing off with a group such as the Proud Boys or the Three Percenters and when they were protesting unopposed," they wrote.
The researchers also found that appearances by formal BLM groups made a difference in violence seen at these protests, but "found no evidence to suggest that it did," noting that of the nearly 14,000 racial justice protests, only around 3 percent were organized by formal BLM groups. The rest were locally organized.
"Antifa was rarely present during 2020's protests, but when it showed up, there was more violence," the researchers concluded. "We find no evidence that it infiltrated BLM, as some have charged, or caused BLM to be violent. Extremism is a concern, and right-wing extremism may pose a greater threat, but maligning BLM through association with antifa clearly misses the mark."
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