Republicans Introduce Bill That Will Send Anti-Fascist Protestors To Jail For 15 Years
House Republicans have introduced The “Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018” legislation, which carries a potential 15-year prison sentence for those caught engaging in behaviors typically associated with the “antifa” movement of anti-fascist activists.
The bill repeals the paranoid authoritarianism that is becoming the dominant worldview of today’s GOP.
The legislation would punish anyone who “oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person” engaged in a legally protected right or privilege while “wearing a mask” with up to 15 years in prison.
The extreme vagueness of “oppresses” and “intimidates” raises concerns that anyone who simply shows up at a protest in a mask could be put away for a very long time if the bill becomes law.
The bill was introduced in the House last month but received renewed attention on Tuesday after alt-right personality Mike Cernovich encouraged his followers to call their representatives and “let them know what you think” about the legislation.
People should not go to prison for attending protests. That is why there is an amendment to the Constitution protecting the right to free assembly. And 15 years is an extraordinary sentence for behavior, no matter how threatening; convicted murderers often aren’t incarcerated that long.
“Antifa” is shorthand for a diverse and diffuse array of anti-fascist and anti-racist activists. It isn’t a nationally coordinated or centrally organized movement. And various antifa chapters are a problem only for neo-Nazis. Antifa activists show up as counterprotesters at fascist events, like the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, where thousands of armed white nationalists clashed with antifa members and other protesters.
Antifa groups are distinguished from other organizations that do not like Nazis by their willingness to confront Nazis. In more than 30 years of antifa activity, there has been one confirmed fatality caused by an antifa group member ― in 1993, when a Nazi in Portland, Oregon, was shot during a fight at a gas station. Far-right extremists, by contrast, were responsible for 670 fatalities, 3,053 injuries and 4,420 attacks in the United States from 1990 to 2012, according to a report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Dan Donovan (N.Y.) and is co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Pete King (N.Y.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Ted Budd (N.C.).
The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee