By John Kanelis
“Antifa” as become a four-letter word in some circles around the nation.
It is meant as a sort of shorthand for a group that opposes fascism, as in “anti-fascism.” Of course, it has morphed into a more militant sort of operation. Of late, though, it has been blamed for fanning the flames of discontent and discord on our city’s streets in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic killing in late May by Minneapolis police officers who were arresting him for – get this! – allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
National Public Radio, though, has done some research on the conspiracy charges being leveled against “Antifa” and has found no credible evidence that the organization has sought to energize protesters, turning them into vandals, looters and rioters.
According to NPR: U.S. Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly blamed anti-fascist activists for the violence that has erupted during demonstrations over George Floyd's death, but federal court records show no sign of so-called antifa links so far in cases brought by the Justice Department.
NPR has reviewed court documents of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with the unrest. As of Tuesday morning, none is alleged to have links to the antifa movement.
Of the cases brought so far, 20 involve allegations related to arson; 16 involve the illegal possession of a firearm, more often than not by a felon; another eight people face charges related to inciting a riot or civil disorder.
That doesn’t sound like a widespread Antifa conspiracy to me.
But it continues to resonate in many quarters around the country. I prefer to think of the protests as a legitimate reaction to an appalling demonstration in Minneapolis of police arrogance. We have heard the concerns expressed already too many times in other cities and towns about cops treating African-American detainees differently than they treat others. What the nation has seen via video recording is precisely the kind of policing that protesters insist must stop.
I want to add a brief post-script to all of this.
North and Northeast Texas have seen their share of demonstrations against the horror that revealed itself in the Twin Cities. There have been “unification” rallies in Princeton, Farmersville and Greenville. People have marched in Greenville, calling for an end to racism and brutal conduct. I attended a rally in Princeton where protesters didn’t march, but instead observed an 8 minute, 46 second moment of silence in George Floyd’s memory.
I am proud that we have kept our composure while lodging this legitimate redress of government policies.
Accordingly, I am quite sure our Founding Fathers would be proud of the way we have conducted ourselves in this region of the country.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.