The Chicago Syndicate: While #Antifa Groups May Soon be Formally Declared #DomesticTerrorists, @TheJusticeDept Weighs Using RICO Racketeering Tools to Investigate Them #Mafia

Monday, August 05, 2019

While #Antifa Groups May Soon be Formally Declared #DomesticTerrorists, @TheJusticeDept Weighs Using RICO Racketeering Tools to Investigate Them #Mafia

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, recently requested an organized crime investigation of the masked militant group Antifa, which he called “a left-wing anarchist terrorist organization that routinely relies on violence to intimidate and punish its political opponents.”

Cruz made his request for a probe of Antifa in a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and FBI Director Christopher Wray. The letter details a path to prosecuting members of Antifa under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Broadly targeting those they claim are far-right and racist, Antifa members have repeatedly engaged in criminal activity ranging from destroying property to attacking a reporter. The group is best known for fighting those it labels “fascists” with tactics borrowed from Adolf Hitler's early followers, known as Brownshirts.

Antifa came to national attention in 2017 when its violent protests of President Trump’s inauguration led to hundreds of arrests. Antifa protesters in Washington destroyed storefronts, set trash cans and a limousine on fire, and attacked police officers with rocks and bricks.

In New York City, Dallas, Chicago and Portland, Ore., club-wielding Antifa protesters threw bricks and unknown liquids at police officers.

The University of California at Berkeley was Antifa’s next headline-making stage. Wearing their signature black garb and face masks, Antifa members threw fireworks, rocks and bricks at police to protest a speech on Berkeley’s campus by political provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. They also set fire to buildings, smashed windows and pepper-sprayed a woman wearing a hat expressing support for President Trump.

Antifa has been particularly active in Portland. During a 2017 May Day riot, the group set bonfires in the streets, destroyed storefronts, and vandalized police cars. Recently Antifa attacks have become more violent.

Antifa protesters in Portland robbed and attacked journalist Andy Ngo and others with fists, sticks, pepper spray and milkshakes that local police say may have been mixed with cement in June. The attacks sent several people to the hospital with serious injuries – in Ngo’s case, a brain hemorrhage. Police stood on the sidelines and did nothing.

The violence escalated further in July. After sending his friends a manifesto declaring “I am Antifa,” a 69-year-old man attacked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Tacoma, Wash.

Armed with a rifle and improvised incendiary devices, the man set cars on fire, threw firebombs at the facility and attempted to ignite a large propane tank. Police confronted him and then shot and killed him. 

The Tacoma attack could have easily produced mass casualties – and Seattle Antifascist Action seems OK with that. Hailing the attacker as “another martyr in the struggle against fascism,” the group added: “May his death serve as a call to protest and direct action.”

In response to Antifa’s increasing violence and – at least in Portland – local law enforcement’s inability or unwillingness to protect the community, commentators including Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky, have called for federal action.

Von Spakovsky argues that Antifa members should be prosecuted under civil rights laws like the Ku Klux Klan Act, which makes it illegal for masked thugs to deprive others of their civil liberties.

Cruz has upped the ante by urging the Department of Justice to investigate Antifa members under RICO, a law enacted to combat organized crime. Originally RICO was intended to take on the Mafia. Today it’s used more broadly – sometimes too broadly. But Antifa has made itself a fair target.

RICO makes it illegal for a person to participate in the affairs of an enterprise that engages in "racketeering activities." Racketeering activities include crimes like arson, robbery, fraud and money laundering.

Cruz lays out the RICO case against Rose City Antifa, the group based in Portland. For one, the group is an association of people or "enterprise" within the meaning of the statute. For another, its acts of arson and robbery are well-documented, extensive and ongoing.

What’s more, the group remains active and declares its intention to commit more – and increasingly violent – crimes in the future.

RICO makes it illegal for a person to participate in the affairs of an enterprise that engages in "racketeering activities." Racketeering activities include crimes like arson, robbery, fraud and money laundering.

If the Justice Department takes Cruz’s advice and opens an investigation, Portland would be a good place to start. But Antifa groups are perpetrating similar crimes all over the country in violation of state and federal laws.

The Justice Department and Antifa’s victims should use every tool at their disposal, including civil rights laws, to stop this modern-day Brownshirt mob.

Thanks to GianCarlo Canaparo and Christina Eastman.

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