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A Facebook post includes a screenshot to a tweet from a suspended account called “ANTIFA America” that claims the left-wing movement is moving Black Lives Matter protests to residential areas.
There is no evidence to support the post. Antifa is a broad, loosely affiliated coalition of left-wing anti-fascist activists. It has no leaders and is organized into autonomous local groups.
We could find no tweets from local antifa cells or local news reports about protests moving into residential areas on May 31, the day the post was made. It is still unclear to what extent the movement is involved in the demonstrations.
After President Donald Trump blamed violent protests across the country on antifa, Facebook and Twitter users started spreading misinformation about the left-wing movement.
A Facebook post published May 31 shows a screenshot of a tweet from a now-suspended account called "ANTIFA America." The tweet claimed the anti-fascist protest movement planned to move into white residential areas to continue protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck.
"Antifa is warning that tonight they're moving out of the cities — and into residential areas to 'take what's ours,’" reads the caption on the Facebook post, which was published by a page called U.S. Law Enforcement. "Law enforcement across the country on high alert."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) It has been shared more than 6,300 times.
There is no evidence to support the Facebook post or the deleted tweet.
(Screenshot from Facebook)
We can’t access the original ANTIFA America tweet since the account has been suspended. We reached out to Twitter for a comment on why it was suspended, but we haven’t heard back.
What we do know is that there is no national organization for antifa, which means there is no official Twitter account for the movement. And there were no reports we could find of antifa or other groups specifically targeting white residentials.
Antifa is a broad, loosely affiliated coalition of left-wing, anti-fascist activists. It has no leaders and is organized into autonomous local groups. The movement has participated in several protests across the country in recent years, including the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Antifa activists have a history of attacking police officers and journalists during demonstrations.
"Unfortunately, with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements," said Attorney General William Barr on May 30. "In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by far left extremist groups and anarchic groups using antifa-like tactics."
But as of now, there is no proof that antifa activists are the primary demonstrators stoking violence at Black Lives Matter protesters across the country. Neither Trump nor Barr have offered public evidence that the leftist movement is behind the demonstrations. And while they are probably part of the protests, experts say it’s unlikely that antifa groups are culpable for a significant portion of damage.
"I haven’t seen any instances in these demonstrations of groups marching behind a banner saying, ‘Hey, we are antifa,’" said Mark Bray, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University and author of "Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook." "That said, I think there's a fair likelihood that some antifa groups have participated in the protests that we've seen."
Antifa activists sometimes use property destruction as a political strategy. In 2017, antifa groups confronted police and smashed windows at the University of California-Berkeley to protest a speech from right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
But Bray said the notion that the anti-fascist movement is behind much of the violence and vandalism at Black Lives Matter protests doesn’t hold water.
"The key issue here is that they are not nearly numerous or politically consequential enough to pull off the most massive rebellion this country has seen in the past 50 years," he said.
We reached out to the National Guard and police departments in several major cities for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.
We checked the Twitter accounts for local antifa cells in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. None of them have tweeted about "moving out of the cities and into residential areas," as the Facebook post claims. We could find no news reports about antifa-led protests in residential areas on the evening of May 31.
Without additional evidence, the Facebook post is inaccurate. We rate it False.
All My Tweets, accessed June 1, 2020
Berkeleyside, "Chaos erupts, protesters shut down Yiannopoulos events, banks in downtown vandalized," Feb. 2, 2017
Facebook post, May 31, 2020
Factba.se, accessed June 1, 2020
Interview with Mark Bray, part-time lecturer at Rutgers University and author of "Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook," June 1, 2020
The New York Times, "Live Updates on George Floyd Protests: Trump Lashes Out at Governors Over Response," June 1, 2020
The New York Times, "Many Claim Extremists Are Sparking Protest Violence. But Which Extremists?" May 31, 2020
The New York Times, "What Is Antifa, the Movement Trump Wants to Declare a Terror Group?" June 1, 2020
The New York Times, "Who Were the Counterprotesters in Charlottesville?" Aug. 14, 2017
Nexis, accessed June 1, 2020
Politico, "Barr threatens to bust 'far-left extremist groups' in Floyd unrest," May 30, 2020
PolitiFact, "The death of George Floyd: What you need to know," May 29, 2020
Tweet from Donald Trump, May 30, 2020
Tweet from Donald Trump, May 31, 2020
Vox, "Antifa clashes with police and journalists in Charlottesville and DC," Aug. 12, 2018
The Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump urges governors to ‘dominate’ protesters after another night of unrest," June 1, 2020
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