[This is the first time I get to see a little bit about how ANTIFA is structured. This shadowy, undefined organisation structure, is most likely a DELIBERATE thing intended to make them hard to corner. They say they are "anti-racist" which I think clearly means they are anti-white. I want to see how this pans out and if this in any way weakens them. They seem to be the main ARMY that really makes it hard for whites in the USA. Even if the law is not used harshly on them, I think again, that the mere fact that Trump has said this and made some moves in public is good. Jan]
United States President Donald Trump has announced he is going to officially declare Antifa a "terrorist organisation".
Mr Trump claimed that the militant far-left anti-fascists were the driving force behind the riots that have wracked the country.
"It’s Antifa, it’s a lot of radical left bad people. And they’ve got to be taught that you can’t do this," he said.
However, his push is already meeting resistance.
Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said Mr Trump had "no legal authority for designating a domestic group" as a terrorist organisation.
"Terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused. There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns," she told CNN.
So what is Antifa and what will applying the label of "terrorist organisation" achieve?
A difficult ‘organisation’ to pin down
Antifa, short for "anti-fascist", describes an unknown number of loosely affiliated, far-left militant activist groups and individuals who act in opposition to what they regard as "fascism" all over the world.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) moved earlier this year to make white supremacist extremism an equal top priority as foreign terrorist groups, and white supremacists are considered the largest risk group for domestic terrorism within the US.
Viewed by experts as an ideology rather than an organisation as such, Antifa has no overall structure, official membership, hierarchy or leadership and are only united by a generalised set of anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist goals.
Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook by Mark Bray(Supplied: Mark Bray)
Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, told ABC Radio that while anti-fascists were known for being violent, most of their activities were non-violent.
"It entails a lot of research, a lot of outing neo-Nazi leaders publicly to discredit them, and coalition building and organising," he said.
But he said that because of the "inherent violence of fascism and Nazi-ism", Antifa believed using violence was sometimes necessary.
A movement with a long history that’s surged due to social media
The Antifa movement is often said to have roots stretching back as far as the Antifaschistische Aktion, which opposed fascism in Germany before World War II.
Charles Sturt University intelligence and security studies lecturer Troy Whitford said the current generation of anti-fascists had predecessors in the militant progressives of the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture and during the anti-globalisation protests of the 1990s and 2000s.
Antifa were among those who came to counter-protest a rally organised by the far-right in Portland, Oregon, last year.(AP: Noah Berger)
While the Antifa platform was actually reasonably mainstream these days, he said, their adoption of violence as a tactic and suppression of opposing viewpoints as a goal made themselves, in a sense, fascist.
Mr Whitford said Antifa’s prominence in recent years was in part due to social media, which had supercharged the spread of ideologies and made it easier to organise countermarches and demonstrations.
But he said it was no coincidence they had grown in profile since the election of Mr Trump in 2016.
Antifa was, by definition, a force of opposition and Mr Trump’s presidency had given them something to fight against, he said.
"They do emerge stronger and harder when the government is conservative," he said.
"If Obama was in right now it would be unlikely you would have the same sort of fever as there is now."
How involved are Antifa in the current protests?
The protests sparked by the death of George Floyd have entered their sixth night.(AP: Evan Vucci)
Australian writer and antifascist researcher Andy Fleming said it was difficult to say how involved Antifa was in the current protests in the US.
He said they could be providing legal support, bail funds, medical assistance, attending protests, producing reportage, publishing analyses and seeking to expose far-right attempts to infiltrate and capitalise on the protests.
"In general, anti-fascists are supportive of the protests against racist police brutality," he said.
"[But] to characterise the protests as being constituted by or taking place at the instigation of anti-fascists is radically mistaken.
"These are genuinely popular mobilisations, in which African-Americans, whether or not they identify as ‘anti-fascist’, play a leading role."
How do you outlaw an ideology?
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
398K people are talking about this
Mr Whitford said that declaring Antifa a terrorist group put them in the same category as Al Qaeda and Islamic State, which meant they would in theory become subject to heavy surveillance and attempts to disrupt their activities.
"The problem with this is that Antifa, like the extreme right, are domestic organisations. And that makes me worry about how does that fit with citizenship rights?" he said.
"If someone is on the terrorist list, you can do things like detain them for seven days without charge or interview them for 24 hours straight.
"There’s a lot of things that, once you’re on that list and once you’re targeted as being a terrorist, they can do to you that they normally wouldn’t do if it was just a criminal activity."
Mr Whitford said the declaration could help prevent violence perpetrated by Antifa but in practice, it would be difficult because of their lack of structure.
"It’s a fluid organisational thing and therefore it’s going to be very hard to combat," he said.
"The only way to combat ideologies is with other ideologies."
Mr Fleming said the legal dimension to Mr Trump’s declaration was less important than its political intention.
"Which I think revolves around solidifying his base ahead of the November election, recasting the protests as the work of ‘alien’ political forces, and licencing further police brutality," he said.
"It could thus be read as a sign of political desperation."