President Trump on Monday called for the FBI to crack down on Antifa following another night of rioting in downtown Portland where demonstrators smashed windows and toppled statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
“Put these animals in jail, now,” Mr. Trump said in a series of tweets. “The Radical Left only knows how to take advantage of very dumb ‘leadership’ fools. This is Biden! Law & Order!”
“The FBI and Law Enforcement must focus their energy on ANTIFA and the Radical Left, those who have spent the summer trying to burn down poorly run Democrat Cities throughout the USA!” he continued.
In a retweet of a video showing the Lincoln statue being knocked down, Mr. Trump wrote. “Get them FBI, and get them now!”
Mr. Trump’s tweets come after a riot was declared downtown Portland on Sunday night. The protest started as “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage,” which unfolded on the eve of Columbus Day to demonstrate against Christopher Columbus.
Multiple statues were spray-painted and toppled and the windows to the Oregon Historical Society were smashed. Several storefronts were also destroyed.
By 9:30 p.m., a riot was declared. Several people were arrested according to local media in Portland, though an exact number is not known.
Portland has experienced nightly demonstrations since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray recently contradicted Mr. Trump’s characterization of Antifa as a single group. While acknowledging that Antifa is a “real thing,” Mr. Wray said it is not “a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”
The president pushed back in a tweet, calling Antifa “a bunch of well-funded anarchists and thugs.”
In tweets, fundraising emails and public appearances, Mr. Trump blamed Antifa for the civil unrest that has spread across the country this summer. He has even vowed to officially label Antifa a terrorist organization, elevating it to the same level as al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Antifa is a shadowy anarchist movement that doesn’t subscribe to any one political ideology but serves as an umbrella group for hard-left activists who aggressively oppose what they deem “fascism.”
In recent years, Antifa sympathizers have become more violent. At first, they largely restricted their activities to online rabble-rousing and protests of conservative speakers.
Last year, the first Antifa domestic terrorism incident was reported when 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen attacked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Tacoma, Washington. Armed with a rifle and incendiary devices, Spronsen was killed by police.
Earlier this summer, a self-described supporter, Michael Forest Reinoehl, killed a Trump supporter during a violent skirmish on the streets of Portland. It was the first killing linked to an Antifa activist. Reinoehl himself was killed in an arrest attempt a few days later.
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