Attorney General Bill Barr is hopping aboard President Trump’s effort to go after “antifa,” an amorphous “anti-facist” movement that has become a bugaboo for some on the far-right, including Trump.
According to a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Barr on Friday directed staff to create a task force focused specifically on countering “anti-government extremists.” The “extremists” reportedly include groups “of all persuasions.” The task force will focus specifically on the nebulous “antifa” movement as well as supporters of a far-right mentality referred to as “Boogaloo,” a movement that openly advocates for a civil war, according to the Post.
“Among other lawless conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote in a memo that, according to the Post, was sent to all the DOJ’s law enforcement officials and U.S. attorneys. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law. … Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion.”
The move comes in the wake of nationwide protests speaking out against police brutality and racial injustice, and follows Trump’s efforts to brand “antifa” as a terrorist organization. As violence broke out at protests in various cities across the U.S., Trump blamed the movement for inciting riots. Since Trump’s Twitter terrorist designation, there have been multiple incidents around the country in which residents of local communities have lashed out against other citizens, over a misguided — and oftentimes patently false — belief in their allegiance to “antifa.”
In the memo on Friday, Barr also suggested that “foreign entities” might be involved in the creation of the extremists groups, but, as the Post noted, he cited no evidence or specifics related to such a claim.
“Some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country,” Barr said.