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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Antifa? Boogaloo? Who are the extremists blamed for stirring up trouble at protests

    Antifa? Boogaloo? Who are the extremists blamed for stirring up trouble at protests and what are their goals?

    Former Dallas FBI chief says groups likely using demonstrations to raise their profile


    Dallas police attempt to disperse the crowd of protesters along Young Street and Griffin in downtown Dallas on Friday. After peaceful demonstrations led to late-night looting in several cities over the weekend, some blamed outside forces for causing trouble.(Vernon Bryant / Staff Photographer)

    By David Tarrant
    11:25 AM on Jun 3, 2020

    Blame the outsider.

    That seems to be the one thing uniting politicians, protesters and police who are blaming outside agitators for demonstrations that have turned violent in dozens of cities around the country over the past week.

    But just who are these outsiders? Are they organized groups? Individuals committing random acts of violence?


    President Donald Trump blames the violence on outside extremists, specifically antifa, a shadowy, far-left movement that he describes as a domestic terrorist organization.

    Others who study extremism in the United States say the violence has been purposely stoked by far-right fringe groups, with names such as the Boogaloo movement, which wants to exploit the marches to sow discord and turn the public against the protesters.


    Law enforcement officials, from Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McGraw have also blamed outside groups for protests that turn violent.



    DPS will “pursue all agitators and individuals involved in inciting riots,” McGraw said during a news conference Tuesday in Dallas with Gov. Greg Abbott and the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth.

    Abbott, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price all pointed to outside agitators as those perpetrating violence and vandalism.

    Abbott has deployed DPS troopers and National Guard members to cities, including Dallas, to help local law enforcement.


    In some cases, those outsiders are criminals looking to take advantage of the protest to steal or vandalize, these officials said. But there are also groups with political ideologies on the left and the right, who are also looking to exploit the current unrest.


    Eric Jackson, the former chief of the Dallas FBI, said it’s necessary for law enforcement to study extremists and “learn the goals of the groups, their tactics, their use of social media platforms, the language they use to communicate, their use of props, such as their clothing, tattoos, graffiti.”



    Jackson, who served for 21 years in the FBI before retiring as special agent in charge of the Dallas Field Office in 2019, was assigned to the FBI's domestic terrorism unit during his career.

    “I noted the growth in domestic extremists since 2002, and often saw them mirror the political atmosphere of the nation,” Jackson said in an emailed response to questions.


    “These groups' ideological goals stemmed from issues relating to politics, religious, social, racial, and environmental related issues,” Jackson said.

    In turn, he said, the groups learn the tactics of law enforcement to see how they can potentially exploit high-profile situations, such as protest demonstrations.


    “Some groups are hoping for a large law-enforcement presence and the use of tactics that will harm demonstrators, while others are looking for the introduction of the U.S. military against demonstrators,” Jackson said.
    Such law-enforcement responses, he said, will further fuel conspiracy theories spread by groups on both ends of the political spectrum, who will use threats of violence and intimidating tactics to further their ideological goals to recruit more followers, he said.

    Public shaming and blaming of these groups might only serve to enhance their profile and embolden their efforts, Jackson said.


    “My other fear is as people place blame on an ideology or group for acts committed, they may be only enhancing/strengthening the ideology and recruitment efforts,” he said.


    antifa


    Antifa, often cited by Trump for exploiting the current unrest, is an anti-fascist movement and collection of individuals in many community communities in contrast to an actual organization with a clear, hierarchical structure, according to experts.

    The movement came to prominence in August 2017, when antifa activists confronted participants in the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Since then, antifa activists have confronted white supremacists at other rallies across the country.



    Allegations that the antifa movement is also connected to the protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin come from Trump’s tweets and some law enforcement officials.

    Screen shot of Trump retweet of a claim by heavy metal guitarist Mark Kendall, blaming "Antifa" for the beating of a Dallas man with a machete during protests May 30, 2020. Kendall's tweet was removed within an hour.(screen grab)McGraw singled out antifa, for damage and looting of a national chain business in Austin on Sunday. “That was done and organized by antifa,” said McGraw, who also blamed antifa for using the internet to let others know the location of various law enforcement resources. That information came from known antifa Internet accounts, he said.

    Trump blamed the beating of a machete-wielding man in downtown Dallas over the weekend on antifa and, despite a lack of evidence for that, cited the incident upon announcing the deployment of National Guard and some active-duty troops around the country.


    Trump also wrote on Twitter that "It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!"


    After Trump’s pledge to crack down on violent demonstrators, the Pentagon on Monday began deploying hundreds of active-duty troops to military installations on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. thousand National Guard troops are already patrolling the nation’s capital. The active-duty troops, pulled from the 82nd Airborne Division, are currently on standby at two Army bases in Virginia, according to a report in the Washington Post.



    Attorney General William Barr also blamed anti-fascists groups for escalating the protests. In a statement released Sunday, Barr 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,” Barr’s statement read.

    The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization that tracks extremists, condemned the Trump administration’s designation of antifa as a terrorist group, saying the move was rooted in politics.


    “Classifying antifa as a domestic terror organization has been a wish-list item for the president’s allies on the far right and in the conservative mainstream for year,” said a June 1 report on the ADL website.


    Right-wing extremists committed more acts of deadly violence last year than radical leftists, the ADL said. In 2019, 90 percent of the 42 people killed by domestic extremists were victims of individuals linked to right-wing extremism, according to an ADL study.


    “Boogaloo”


    In recent protests, some marchers have stood out for wearing Hawaiian shirts and carrying rifles.

    The garb is the uniform for attention-seekers sometimes known as “Boogaloo Boys”or “Boogaloo Bois," who have been seen earlier this year around the country to protest COVID-19 lockdown orders.

    The name is a deep-cut reference to a 1980s break-dancing movie, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Gun activists morphed the term into “Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo,” to mean another civil war would break out if the government tries to confiscate guns.



    There were anecdotal sightings of the movement’s members at Dallas protests over the weekend.

    Gordon Gianadda, a 21-year-old student at Southern Methodist University, said he and other students were at a protest Saturday afternoon near Dallas City Hall when a man in a Hawaiian shirt walked past carrying an assault rifle.


    “Everybody was sitting peacefully and suddenly somebody walked by wearing a gas mask, Hawaian shirt and carrying an assault rifle,” the student said. “And everybody got quiet.”


    The coronavirus crisis seems to have galvanized the movement, according to a report by the Tech Transparency Project, which tracks technology companies. The April 22 report found 125 Facebook groups associated with the term “boogaloo,” that had attracted thousands of members since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March.


    “Some boogaloo supporters see the public health lockdowns and other directives by states and cities across the country as a violation of their rights, and they're aiming to harness public frustration at such measures to rally and attract new followers to their cause," the project's report says.


    Groups that study far-right extremists say the boogaloo movement is a broad tent that includes white supremacists as well as gun-rights activists.



    Tracking groups

    The DPS has special agents embedded in protests “trying to identify criminals that are exploiting these demonstrations,” McGraw, the department’s director, said at Tuesday’s news conference in Dallas.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the lead law enforcement agency for the investigation of domestic terrorism. Part of tracking extremist groups is understanding their motivation, said Jackson, the former Dallas-FBI chief.

    Former FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Eric Jackson, left, in 2018 file photo at press conference with U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox, center, and IRS Dallas Field Office Special Agent in Charge Tamera Cantu at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Dallas. Jackson spent many years studying domestic terror organizations during his career with the agency.(Carly Geraci / Staff Photographer)

    The FBI is prohibited from monitoring individuals and groups practicing their constitutionally protected rights, Jackson said. The agency tries to work with the public in its investigations.

    Groups can change in leadership and goals over the years, Jackson said, morphing “between multiple ideologies and sometimes hiding their true ideology and goals.”



    Some groups have more of a structure and leadership, Jackson said, citing various white-supremacist groups over the years. Other anarchist-styled groups, such as antifa, are designed to be leader-less to further their anonymity, he said.

    Ultimately, protesters are learning they have to be on guard against outside agitators, said one local leader.


    Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua, who represents South Dallas and has been involved in several of the protests, said violence that breaks out during demonstrations threatens to take the spotlight away from the marchers’ goal, which is to protest police violence.


    Bazaldua said he reached out over the weekend to Peter Johnson, a longtime local civil rights activist who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in the 1960s. He wanted Johnson’s advice after violence had marred local protests.


    “I asked him how do we continue the movement with validity and credibility if we are going to be faced with violent and destructive behavior,” Bazaldua said.


    Johnson told him that protest leaders had to “get rid of the agitators,” Bazaldua said.



    “All protesters have to be willing to police the agitators just as we’re being policed,” he said.

    “This is our movement,” Bazaldua said. “And we have to own it.”

    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2020...e-their-goals/

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