The situation unfolding in Charlottesville, VA has shed much light on just how divided America really is as a country; photographs of Alt-right white men throwing up neo-Nazi hand gestures and waving confederate flags while calling for the return of slavery will haunt this nation for years to come. The situation in Charlottesville has also brought to the spotlight another group, the exact opposite of the Alt-right, thanks to their various counter-protests in the city: Antifa. What is Antifa, though?
According to BBC, “Antifa” is literally short for “Anti-fascists,” a group that — as the name suggests — staunchly opposes fascist principles, and has been heavily anti-Trump since his election. They’re considered far-left — as BBC puts it, Antifa and the Alt-right are both at opposite ends of “the extreme ends of the political spectrum” — and seem to have begun sometime in 1930s Europe as a response to Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, and continued to grow throughout the second World War.
As BBC reported, the Antifa movement fights back against racism, confronts those thought to be white supremacists, and, as the name suggests, opposes fascism. According to BBC, the movement “made their presence felt” during Donald Trump’s inauguration in Jan. 2017 when protests turned violent: “Restaurant windows were smashed, a car was set on fire and objects were thrown at the police. More than 200 arrests were made.”
In their May/June 2017 issue, Mother Jones stated that the “violent anti-racist” Antifa movement, though largely underground in the past, was “poised to explode” in the Trump era.
As for Antifa’s role in the situation in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 — members of the group were in the city protesting the racist rallies, and both extremist groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Antifa and Alt-right, were reported to have physically altercated with one another. In response to Antifa’s counter-protests, a member of the Alt-right plowed through a group of counter-protesters with a car in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, injuring 19 and killing one. The driver, reported to be 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. by NBC News, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree murder, “hit and run attended failure to stop with injury,” and three counts of malicious wounding.