The charges are based on an affidavit filed on Sept. 25 by FBI agent Jon T Denz. The affidavit reveals a case built on a series of Facebook posts:
- A link to a Huff post article, with the comment “burn this shit to the fucking ground”.
- A recipe for a Molotov cocktail, with extra steps: light wick, aim at cop, throw.
- A greeting of “Good morning to everyone ready to burn this whole fuckin country to the ground”
- An smiley face emoji holding a Molotov cocktail
The FBI was initially brought in because the Monroe County Sherrif’s Office shared information with them indicating that the activist “espouses beliefs consistent with Antifascist (ANTIFA) ideology,” based on these items:
- A profile picture with the words “Antifacist Action”. This was an anti-fascist/anti-racist organization active in the 80s and 90s and disbanded in 2001.
- A picture of them dressed in black with a helmet and goggles. Wearing black is a common protest tactic used by many groups who want to avoid personal identification. Wearing a helmet and goggles is common sense when the police are shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd.
- A circle-A picture and the words and “Anarco-communist”. Anarchism is a political wide-ranging political philosophy that is general opposed to facism. Some strands of anarchism advocate violence for political ends, while others advocate pacifism.
This list indicates that when law enforcement uses the term “ANTIFA ideology” it does not refer to any particular group, organization, or set of tactics. Instead it can appliy to anyone who opposes facism in an assertive way.
This ratcheting up of charges should be opposed by anyone interested in fighting for justice. Even if the charges don’t stick, the uncertainty surrounding them serves as a form of punishment by itself. They represent a warning and deterrent to anyone who may be interested in joining the protests. Finally, they reflect the larger prison industrial complex that inflates sentences in order to threaten huge numbers of black and brown people with massive prison time in order to extract plea deals that involves comparatively less time, but still results in the US having the highest percentage of prison population in the world.