A group of nearly 200 from across the Pacific Northwest Antifa, armed with firearms, melee weapons, and shields descended on Oregon’s Capitol on March 28. The group was counter-protesting a proposed “America First Freedom Rally”. There were multiple clashes with police and nearby drivers and several individuals were arrested. One vehicle windshield was penetrated by a tree limb thrown by a protest, nearly impaling the front passenger.
The Antifa action was described as “autonomously organized” and broadly promoted beginning March 1 by members of the Cherry City Collective, an Antifa collective based in Salem. This call for action was then broadly disseminated by Antifa and anarchist groups, including Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front and its Seattle and Eugene chapters, as well as Rose City Antifa, a member of the Torch Antifa network. According to social media it appears that significant numbers of Antifa arrived from out of town for the event.
The Post-Millennial’s Andy Ngo and Mia Cathell reported four individuals with known associations to Antifa arrested for violence, including two from nearby Portland, Oregon and one a former Teen Vogue contributor.
Despite the arrests Antifa accounts have broadly declared victory for the rally with Cherry City Collective writing:
Thank you to everyone who came from out-of-town in solidarity yesterday—we are so grateful for your support. Thank you to Salem comrades for holding it down—you put in so much hard work to keep our community safe and it shows.
The event had classic hallmarks of a successful Antifa activity.
Their counterprotest vastly outnumbered the original event. The event drew participants from regional collectives and affinity groups throughout established networks. Antifa continues to prove that it is indeed a “traveling team” when it comes to the ability to conduct “direct action.”
This element of Antifa is deeply ingrained in the ideology rooted in New Left violent terrorism. As Pro-Antifa author Shane Burley notes:
Several members of JBAKC came out of controversial New Left organizations like the Weathermen… JBAKC pioneered an approach that has since become ubiquitous in antifascist circles (often shorthanded today as “where they go, we go”), and they would do everything from holding mass pickets to pressure government officials to cancel Nazi parade permits to throwing rocks and frozen sodas at Klansmen staging rallies.
The Salem, Oregon event also shows how there is more to Antifa’s network than simply black bloc violence. Antifa “researchers” who may never attend violent direct action provide the original intelligence which results in calls to action. They subsequently follow up by documenting and preparing to dox opposition attendees through photographing individuals, identifying marks and license plates.
Additionally, an Antifa-linked bail fund successfully pre-fundraised and then deployed to rapidly release participants who engaged in criminal violence from jail.
It is likely that Antifa sites and social media accounts will conduct extensive after-action reports to analyze how the action succeeded or failed, or what will be more effective in the future.
It is these elements, which are less dramatic than the black-masked rioters operating behind shield walls, that play a vital role in enabling Antifa to disrupt political organization from their opponents and to target both law enforcement and civilians. Without taking a holistic approach to understanding Antifa organizing, law enforcement and government officials will continue to be surprised by the extent of their ability to project power and influence.