At least some parts of the anarcho-communist movement Antifa are highly organized, including initiation procedures, security protocols, and “lectures” on violent action, according to an undercover reporter who infiltrated one of the Antifa cells on behalf of Project Veritas, an investigative journalism nonprofit.
The reporter, who concealed his face on camera and didn’t reveal his name, spoke about his experience and the information he collected in a video Veritas released on June 4.
The video comes at a time when protests around the country over a police killing of a black man have often turned violent. Officials from both sides of the political aisle have said that outside groups have exploited the recent events to further their own agenda. Antifa cells, in particular, have been named among the prime culprits in inciting violence.
The reporter said he joined the Antifa cell in Portland, Oregon, in July of a year Veritas didn’t disclose.
“Depending on the setting, if I were to be caught or found out in a setting where I am present with them, it could escalate to violence against me,” he said.
He had left the organization “some time ago,” according to Veritas.
The reporter described the initiation process, where he was contacted through a secure email platform and directed to come to a designated location wearing a white T-shirt and holding a water bottle.
He was then picked up and taken to another location for an “interview.”
“Prospecting members” need to first attend “required lectures” on Antifa tactics, he said.
The lectures were held at a bookstore before its opening hours. Attendees were required to leave their cellphones in the store’s restroom, which had a fan going to muffle any sound from outside.
Several people lectured the prospects on how to conduct violent action in a clandestine fashion and how to minimize risk to themselves.
“Don’t be that [expletive] guy with goddamned spike brass knuckles getting photos taken of you,” one of the lecturers is heard saying in the video released by Veritas.
Obvious evidence of violent intent could be used by law enforcement against them, he suggested.
“Police are going to be like: ‘Perfect, we can prosecute these [expletive], look how violent they are.’ And not that we aren’t, but we need to [expletive] hide that [expletive],” he said.
The lecturer apparently instructed the prospects to inflict grave injury on their opponents.
“Practice things like an eye gouge. It takes very little pressure to injure someone’s eyes,” he said.
The aim wasn’t to engage in a fight, but to seriously harm, he said.
“Consider like, destroying your enemy. Not like delivering a really awesome right hand, right eye, left eye blow, you know. It’s not boxing, it’s not kickboxing, it’s like destroying your enemy,” he said.
The reporter said he made it “about halfway through the prospecting process to become a full-fledged member.”
He said the Portland cell, called Rose City Antifa (RCA), “seems much more structured, almost like a company or like a business, so I feel like there is some type of outside funding, influence, or resources being used.”
Antifa members “do not hesitate to either push back or incite some kind of violence,” the reporter said.
But the approach is planned beforehand.
“In our classes and in our meetings, before we do any sort of demonstration or Black Bloc, we talk about weapons detail and what we carry and what we should have,” he said.
“Black Block,” is a mode of operation where members are dressed alike and masked “to look uniform so that no one can be identified in an act of a crime,” he said.
“The whole goal of this, right, is to get out there and do dangerous things as safely as possible,” said another lecturer captured in the video.
On a projection screen beside him was seen what appeared to be a slide from a presentation. It talked about “Buddying Up,” a system where each member has a “buddy” during action.
“Keep an eye on their buddy’s emotional state, and try to calm them down / comfort them when necessary,” the slide says, and follows with other instructions.
Members are told to provide details to “legal support person” when their buddy gets arrested; they should also help with “fighting off an opponent, calling an ambulance, finding a first aider, or asking someone with a camera to record the situation” when “their buddy is getting hurt,” and also to “leave with their buddy whenever they want to go, for any reason.”
“They were getting this tradecraft from someone else, someone with much more experience, someone [who did] this for a living,” the reporter said.
He said the cell maintained a connection to Antifa abroad as the founder of RCA moved to Sweden. The Epoch Times wasn’t able to verify the person’s role in founding the cell.
At a May 30 press conference, Attorney General William Barr said the recent violence appears to be “planned, organized, and driven by far-left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics.”
Bernard Kerik, former police commissioner of the New York City Police Department, said Antifa “100 percent exploited these protests,” noting that their various websites control and dictate where protests start.
“It’s in 40 different states and 60 cities; it would be impossible for somebody outside of Antifa to fund this,” he told The Epoch Times. “It’s a radical, leftist, socialist attempt at revolution.”
According to John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, these outside radical groups have organized scouts, medics, and even supply routes of rocks, bottles, and accelerants “for breakaway groups to commit vandalism and violence.” These groups have planned for violence in advance, using encrypted communications, he said.
Communism expert Trevor Loudon told The Epoch Times that Antifa is only one part of the picture, noting that “every significant communist or socialist party in the United States has been involved in these protests and riots from the beginning.”
Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.