Violent attacks from antifa group members who practice physical militancy are on the rise across the United States. The anti-fascism movement has no recognized leadership or formal structure, its followers preferring instead to organize spontaneously, especially in response to other provocative events.
Violence-as-self-defense is one thing in the context of a home invasion. It is a different matter when used to justify a political opinion while denying people deemed white supremacists the right to free speech and a public forum to broadcast their values and beliefs.
On July 29, 2019, photojournalist Andy Ngo sent a Twitter alert regarding a training exercise combined with direct action at the U.S. border with Mexico:
“Antifa is leading a ‘Border Resistance’ militancy training tour that will converge on a 10-day siege in El Paso, TX. The promotional image shows border enforcement officers being killed & government property fired bombed. Organizers asking for ‘white comrades’ to pay for others.”
Antifa members plan to gather to protest “US-funded genocide and local concentration camps” in El Paso during the first ten days in September.
Five days after Ngo’s tweet, Saturday, August 3, 2019, marked a dark day in U.S. history when a lone gunman in El Paso, Texas, opened fire at a Walmart, killing 20 people and injuring another 26 victims in a store crowded with over 100 before-school shoppers and staff.
In the wake of this tragedy, in a Fox News interview, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick warned away antifa militants who had previously announced their plans to assemble in the Lone Star State in early September:
“Stay out of El Paso. Stay out of Texas, basically. We don’t need them coming in on September 1. We didn’t need them coming in before this happened.”
A month before Ngo tweeted about the antifa “border resistance” tour, on June 29, he was in Portland, Oregon, to cover a pro-Trump rally organized by The Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon, where he expected to find antifa resistance. What happened was shocking. In Ngo’s own words:
“On June 29, while listening to these demonstrators chant, ‘No hate, no fear,’ I was bashed in the back of the head very hard, knocked me forward. And when it happened, it took me a few seconds to realize what had happened.”
Ngo, who is openly gay and the son of Vietnamese immigrants, said he is a stranger to fighting. He thought someone had tripped him, causing his fall. But this wasn’t the case:
“Before I could gather my balance, the punches kept coming from every direction, the front, the back, and they were going for my head and my eyes and my face.”
Ngo was still standing as he received kicks to his groin and elsewhere which knocked him down on one knee. It was then that he realized, “it was obvious this was a mob beating. And when I thought that they were done, they weren’t.”
Terror gripped Ngo as the torture continued:
“I think by this fifth and sixth hit to my head and face, I was in fear of my life because I was kept thinking, ‘OK, the last punch was the last one,’ but it kept coming and the people who beat me were not just punching me with their hands…they were wearing tactical gloves that have hardened fiberglass materials on the knuckles. So, it’s almost like getting hit with bricks.”
The reporter put up his hands in surrender but the beatings continued to the point where he could no longer hold his camera:
“They beat me so hard. I lost control of my hands and they robbed me on my GoPro, which I was really trying to hold onto because it was my evidence of this attack. But that was taken.”
The 300 counterprotesters outnumbered the 30 protestors at the rally 10-to-1. Although it may sound trivial, the relentless pelting with milkshakes, eggs, and silly string blinded Ngo and marked him, making him even more vulnerable to the vicious onslaught.
After the violent attack, Ngo was taken to a local Emergency Room and diagnosed with a brain bleed (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Abrasions on his face and head, a black eye, and contusions all over his body were also noted.
Although his physical cuts have healed and bruises faded, Ngo said it will be some time before a complete recovery because he is “going to continue to have some neurological challenges for the coming months.”
On Saturday, August 17, 2019, The Proud Boys organized its largest rally to date, in Portland, with 500 conservative protesters turning out.
Before the event started, President Donald Trump tweeted that:
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR. Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
Classifying antifa mobsters as terrorists would be a game-changing move, subjecting the group to tougher federal laws. Those who oppose antifa policy and tactics say such action will help protect the safety of conservatives and journalists.