Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) claimed on Thursday that "antifa" was behind violence that occurred during anti-racism protests.
The Department of Justice has found no evidence linking people associated with the anti-fascist movement to acts of violence. No one who has been arrested for such violence has any links to the movement.
The nationwide protests against racist police brutality were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
"I signed on to a resolution calling on investigations into antifa and similar activity because this is criminal and we need to get to the bottom of who is causing violence in our cities, looting, police officers lost their lives," Loeffler told a CBS affiliate in Atlanta. "Hundreds of officers were injured trying to keep the peace for those peaceful protesters."
When he analyzed court documents on those arrested at protests, NPR reporter Ryan Lucas said, "I didn't find any mention or reference to antifa. None of the 51 individuals are alleged in these court papers to have any link to the antifa movement, broadly speaking, or to antifa ideology."
Antifa, short for "anti-fascists," is a term for far-left groups and individuals who confront neo-Nazis and white supremacists at rallies across the nation. There is no "antifa" organization, and people affiliated with the ideology sometimes engage in violence.
As Loeffler lobbed an evidence-free claim of far-left violence, she failed to mention concrete evidence of far-right groups seeking to incite violence.
In early June, federal prosecutors charged three Nevada men affiliated with a far-right group with attempting to incite riots in the Las Vegas area. The men were arrested with Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, and an informant told police the men "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot."
Loeffler is one of several Republican officials who have made unsupported claims about anti-fascist involvement in violence at recent protests.
On May 31, Attorney General William Barr issued an official Justice Department statement in which he said, "The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."
"This has gone beyond a peaceful protest. Members of Antifa are domestic terrorists burning American cities down to the ground," Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted on May 31.
Donald Trump has made numerous references to antifa, including an unsubstantiated suggestion that a 75-year-old man pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo may have been an anti-fascist activist who faked his fall.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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