After the Election, What's Next for Antifa? | Opinion

Some political commentators have predicted that a Joe Biden presidency would spell the end of Antifa and its riots.

"Notice, there are no post-election riots because the media have declared Biden the next president, and Biden declares himself president," tweeted conservative commentator Mark Levin. "So, most of the looters, arsonists, rioters were, in fact, pro-Biden voters."

Comments like these reflect a widespread misunderstanding about Antifa. Antifa is not made up of supporters of the Democratic Party, even if it shares a hatred of the Donald Trump administration. It is a movement of anarchist-communist individuals, organizations and networks that seek the abolishment of the United States itself. That means no Republicans—or Democrats.

To see what Antifa has done and what it's likely to do under a Biden administration, just look to Portland—the epicenter of American Antifa militancy.

From May through October this year, Antifa and far-left extremists carried out more than 125 days of violent protests and riots. National media focused on the riots in July when thousands of protesters tried to tear down the barrier protecting the downtown federal courthouse. Some of them tried to burn down the whole facility. The Portland mayor, Oregon governor and other Democrats blamed the Trump administration. But like Levin, they were wrong to believe that Antifa has a partisan agenda.

As soon as federal officers withdrew at the beginning of August, Antifa simply moved its riots to other parts of the city—areas inhabited by residents. In the months after, the rioters have tried to burn down police stations and have vandalized dozens of businesses and homes. But since Election Day, not only have they not ceased their violence, they've stepped up their attacks on smaller targets to avoid arrests.

On Nov. 4, the day after the election, they gathered in the hundreds downtown and held a large banner declaring: "WE DON'T WANT BIDEN—WE WANT REVENGE!" The marauders marched through a business district where they smashed windows one by one using hammers. Nothing in their path was spared. A church that provided support services to Portland's homeless shut down its charity work due to severe damage to its building exterior. Gov. Kate Brown activated the National Guard for the first time to clamp down on the mass violence that night.

Portland protest
Black bloc protesters burn an American flag on November 4, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Multiple protests, some peaceful and others violent, broke out in Portland as the presidential election remained undecided. Nathan Howard/Getty

But it was just getting started. The day after, a mob of Antifa rioters gathered at the home of Portland city commissioner Dan Ryan and vandalized it as punishment for being the swing vote against a city council proposal to defund police.

On Nov. 8, another Antifa mob destroyed the exterior of the Multnomah County Democrats' headquarters using melee tools in a late-night riot. They spray-painted "F— BIDEN" on the building to top it off.

Four days later, several dozen Antifa members secretly marched in the middle of the night to the offices of the Rapid Response Bio Clean, a business contracted with the city to clean and remove homeless encampments. There, they disabled the security cameras and smashed out the glass windows.

And just last Friday, in an evolution of riot tactics, Antifa publicly announced a downtown "direct action" via social media flyers. But this was a trick. The event was a decoy to fool police into responding to the wrong place while the main group of 100 Antifa members smashed out and vandalized more than two dozen businesses in northeast Portland. Police made no arrests.

Antifa's activities in Portland show that not only is the group still a force to be reckoned with post-Election Day, but it's also improving its organizing to evade arrest. The goal of the riots is the same today as it was before: drain public resources and make economic recovery after COVID-19 impossible for the public. Some signs show it is working. Businesses that didn't already shutter earlier this year continue to suffer routine damage costing thousands to repair each time. All the while, the entire state of Oregon has now gone under a new set of lockdown restrictions. Moribund businesses will meet their end.

Biden infamously said in the first presidential debate in September that Antifa is an "idea." He is right, but Antifa also organizes and carries out violence based on that idea. And it views him, Kamala Harris and the state as its primary enemies now that Donald Trump will soon be out of the way.

Andy Ngo is the author of the upcoming Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.