Issues & Insights

AG Barr Must Stick RICO On Antifa, the 21st Century’s KKK

On Saturday in Portland, Oregon, freelance journalist Andy Ngo was beaten so badly by a cowardly, masked Antifa mob, he suffered a brain hemorrhage. The weapons included eggs and the spraying of “milk shakes” suspected of including quick-drying cement, which together temporarily blinded Ngo. The local police precinct was within view, yet video of the episode shows no intervention.

Covering your face to avoid identification so you can beat and intimidate in the name of your political agenda and avoid arrest and prosecution – sound familiar? It’s practically the definition of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nearly 50 years ago, a Democratic Congress passed and a Republican president signed into law an extraordinary measure designed to make prosecutions stick and put organized criminal organizations such as the Klan and the Mafia in prison: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

RICO and Antifa are a match made in heaven.

The glaring similarity between the KKK and these Leninist criminals who practice the same tactics is no revelation to the left. In the far-left Mother Jones, of all places, nearly two years ago an article appeared entitled “Wearing Masks at Protests Didn’t Start With the Far Left – A brief primer on a controversial tactic.”

Intended to make the “it wasn’t us who started it” case, writers Maha Ahmed and Madison Pauly gleefully note that almost all state anti-masking laws between the 1920s and early 1960s “were aimed at preventing Ku Klux Klansmen from concealing their identities while terrorizing, intimidating, or otherwise harassing various minority communities. Most of the laws explicitly reference ‘hoods’ in addition to masks, and some get even more specific: Ohio’s 1953 law bans ‘white caps, masks, or other disguise.’”

They may have proved the left didn’t invent masked violence, but it’s no badge of honor that the left is aping the KKK.

Cultural historian Alison Kinney, writing in the New Republic in 2016, noted how the Klan, “reviving, diminished in numbers but ferociously violent, as an anti-black terrorist organization during the Civil Rights Movement,” had clear purposes in disguising members’ identities. “The hooded uniform remained, sometimes anonymizing acts of covert violence, sometimes adorning a public, unconcealed, violent group identity. Either way, the hood signaled the interrelatedness of white supremacy, civic leadership, theatrics, and more or less overt terrorism.”

David Cunningham, a noted historian of the KKK, has described on PBS how “sheeted Klansmen would commonly terrorize their targets, using hoods and masks to disguise their identities when carrying out acts of violence …”

Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, the country actually would have had a vice president in Tim Kaine whose son “was arrested in Minnesota in March [2016] protesting at a pro-Trump rally … dressed in black bloc alongside a group of Antifa supporters,” as CNN reported two years ago. Linwood Kaine ended up being fined $150.

An Invisible Empire

The same CNN story painted a disturbing portrait of a domestic terrorist group practicing classic methods shared by Communists and fascists in Europe in the last century, and yet escaping with impunity as it commits violence against anyone it deems a fascist.

“Antifa is impossible to track. It isn’t united through a national organization, and it cloaks itself in anonymity,” according to CNN. “In speaking to Antifa leaders across the country, CNN found very few who would take off their masks. Indeed, it took months to track down members willing to share their stories.”

One Antifa (short for anti-fascist) member admitted, “I’ve drawn guns on fascists … I’ve smoke-bombed places.” His admitted rationale for donning disguise is identical to the Klan’s: “People put on the masks so that we can all become anonymous, right? And then, therefore, we are able to move more freely and do what we need to do, whether it is illegal or not.”

“Antifa activists often don’t hesitate to destroy property, which many see as the incarnation of unfair wealth distribution,” CNN reported. “’Violence against windows – there’s no such thing as violence against windows,’ a masked Antifa member in Union Square told CNN. ‘Windows don’t have – they’re not persons. And even when they are persons, the people we fight back against, they are evil. They are the living embodiment, they are the second coming of Hitler.’”

The CNN story also noted that Antifa members “sometimes launch attacks against people who aren’t physically attacking them,” the Ngo assault, of course, confirming that this continues to be their practice. Nearly two years before the brutalization of Ngo, who was peacefully recording Antifa’s demonstration, Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson told CNN officers had found “everything from knives to brass knuckles to poles and sticks and bricks and bottles and road flares and chains. One hundred percent, they came geared up to fight if it would be allowed.”

The CNN investigation found that “in active areas,” Antifa chapters’ “monthly meetings have increased in frequency to several times each week. Activists take martial arts classes together.”

“In Portland, where the Rose City Antifa has been active for a decade, members focus on outing people they believe are neo-Nazis, even trying to get them fired and evicted from their homes.

“‘We’ve done mass mailings. We’ve even gone door to door before in communities,’ said the group’s leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘We’ve gone out to areas that we know that a lot of Nazis live with, like, “wanted” posters, like, “Do you have any information on this person?” and put them up in the area, and we usually get a flurry of tips like, “Yeah, this person works here,” and so on and so on.’”

Antifa used his kind of physical intimidation and destruction of property against the wife of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last November as she was alone at the couple’s Washington, D.C., home.

When police are manipulated or mismanaged into not being allowed to enforce the law, outside action is called for, not unlike federal efforts decades ago to integrate education in the South. This is obviously the case in the left-wing city of Portland, overseen by radical Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has climbed Mount Everest, triathloned, and snow-shoed to the North Pole yet seems incapable of having the law enforcement personnel he manages prevent the crimes of a group well known for plotting and executing violence.

Prosecuting George Soros For Financing Violence?

Interviewed by Issues & Insights, National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who as a federal prosecutor successfully pursued the convictions of the 12 Mideast terrorists who plotted the 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade center, argued that RICO is perfectly appropriate for use against this home-grown menace.

“Loosely knit, interstate enterprises such as Antifa are what RICO was made for,” according to McCarthy. “They can be investigated as organizations unified by ideology and tactics, all members can be held responsible for the disparate acts of all the members, and the harsh state law penalties for violent crimes can be widely applied.”

Writing in NR nearly two years ago, McCarthy pointed out that “in terms of confronting Antifa or any other domestic terrorist organization, we have a more robust array of state and federal law-enforcement powers than we have ever had. Moreover, coordination between federal and state law-enforcement and national-security officers is as good as it has ever been. All that is required to gut Antifa is the will to do it — the will to say, ‘Regardless of our disparate political views, we Americans draw the line at violent extortion that eviscerates our right to speak, assemble, and engage in constitutionally protected political activity.’”

Last November, after the Antifa mob terrorized the Carlson home, no less than Michael Mukasey, U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush, recommended utilizing RICO. “It is a classic RICO operation, a series of crimes committed by a single organization,” Mukasey told Laura Ingraham during an interview on her radio program. “I think some enterprising U.S. attorney ought to open at least a RICO investigation with respect to Antifa,” he said. “And I suspect you can make a case.”

Current Attorney General William Barr may have his hands full ascertaining whether Barack Obama’s national security adviser and intelligence director took part in abusing the FISA Court in an effort to get Hillary Clinton elected president. But politically motivated, life-threatening assaults against peaceful journalists such as Andy Ngo by a mob dedicated to the destruction of economic and political liberty in America can’t be tolerated in a free country.

The Justice Department’s RICO Manual For Federal Prosecutors observes: “Establishing that the members of the enterprise operated together in a coordinated manner in furtherance of a common purpose may be proven by a wide variety of direct and circumstantial evidence including, but not limited to, inferences from the members’ commission of similar racketeering acts in furtherance of a shared objective, financial ties, coordination of activities, community of interests and objectives, interlocking nature of the schemes, and overlapping nature of the wrongful conduct.”

Using those criteria, even left-wing billionaire George Soros, known to finance elements of Antifa and well aware of the group’s longtime routine violence, could be criminally vulnerable.

When locals in sympathy with the politics of the criminals won’t act, the Justice Department must defend a U.S. Constitution under assault. RICO was used effectively during the last century against the monsters of the Mafia, against Hell’s Angels and other violent gangs, and against Klan members. Antifa is the 21st century’s KKK; only the colors of the face coverings differ. It’s time for Barr’s prosecutors to use the law made for such criminals and move against this well-dispersed mob of thugs.

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Thomas McArdle

Tom McArdle @MacArdghail, longtime Senior Writer for Investor's Business Daily, was a White House Speechwriter for President George W. Bush, National Political Reporter for Washington political columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Managing Editor of Human Events, and has worked as a writer for CNN and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His work has appeared in National Review, the American Spectator, The Hill, the Washington Examiner, Newsmax, and the National Catholic Register. He has appeared on Fox News and numerous talk radio programs. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, M. Stanton Evans' National Journalism Center in Washington, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, and at 17 was one of Curtis Sliwa's original "Magnificent 13" Guardian Angels.


  • I loved the video of Alabama police ripping the masks off these cowards.

  • Do you not know that the KKK was a Democratic Party off shoot, as is Antifa. Both groups were/are Democratic Party shock troops and bullies.

  • The basic rule of investigation, from the Al Capone days, is Follow the Money. It worked then and it will work now.

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