The "Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018" is Targeting Direct Action Politics
NEW YORK – July 11, 2018
US Congressman Daniel M. Donovan recently introduced to the House of Representatives Bill H.R. 6054, the so called "Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018". The proposed law would enhance penalties for anyone who interferes with another person's "protected rights" while wearing a disguise. It’s not a secret that this Bill targets radical left-wing protest groups: the name speaks for itself. This Bill has been met with protest from anti-fascists group who believe that H.R. 6054 takes a pro-fascist stance in its enforcement. "In the current political climate, antifascists who speak out against fascism, racism, xenophobia, etc. are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked by the far right, often supported by the police, who are notably exempted here. Families and friends of antifascists also become targets of far right violence. The wearing of a mask is an act of self-defense often necessary to ensure one's right to free speech” Carmichael Monaco, a member of the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, a New York City-based activist group, said.
On the other hand the authorities aware of the threat of the spread of violence, and are seeking to place the blame somewhere. Antifa groups are easy targets due to their provocational methods and appearance. A new and worrying trend is beginning for Antifa activist, a tactic meant to combat racism is repurposed and directed at the of the ideological spectrum. This isn't simply speculation: In August 2017, an Arizona lawmaker said he wanted to use unmasking laws to go after Antifa protesters by comparing them explicitly to the KKK.
"The thugs wearing masks and throwing things at police officers and breaking windows and robbing and pillaging while wearing masks and hoods are the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan," state representative Jay Lawrence told the Arizona Capitol Times. “Now, there are no hangings of white people, yet.”
The bill stipulates that if someone is engaged in an act of property destruction while wearing a mask, they will have two years added to the terms of imprisonment they receive. Meanwhile, the maximum additional penalty they would receive for any other crime—or simply "oppressing or "intimidating" someone enjoying their constitutional rights—is a possible 15 years.
Meanwhile, some analysts believe that H.R. 6054 is much more then it seems at first glance. A lot of people don't understand what the movement is really about. Antifa itself is just a public decoy-- in reality this Bill threatens to clamp down on direct action politics more broadly.