President Trump warned anti-fascists groups on Tuesday that they could soon face opponents that are “tougher” and “much more violent.”
“These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize,” Trump told The Daily Caller in an interview.
“Because if they do, they’re much tougher. Much stronger. Potentially much more violent. And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble. But so far they haven’t done that and that’s a good thing,” he warned.
The Daily Caller asked the president “what tactics law enforcement should practice when dealing with groups like Antifa.”
“[Antifa] better hope that the other side doesn’t mobilize,” Trump said. “Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people. Tougher than them. And smarter for them.”
“They’re sitting back and watching and they’re getting angrier and angrier,” Trump added, referring to what he called “the other side.”
“Antifa” is short for “anti-fascist,” and refers to a nebulous coalition of left-wing activists known for protesting events and figures known for spreading white supremacist and fascist ideals.
I'm no fan of the violent wing of antifa (I've tweeted about that many times before) but what Trump is doing here is dog-whistling—really, much more than that—to his followers that they should meet any antifa violence with violence. This is borderline incitement, and he knows it. https://t.co/8KthmbzLf1
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) November 14, 2018
Anti-fascist activists were present as counter-protesters at the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist rally last year.
Following the terrorist attack by a Neo-Nazi member, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
James Alex Fields Jr., who had previously espoused neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs, drove his car into a crowd of people who had been peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally. The 20-year-old driver was charged with hit and run, first-degree murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, multiple counts of federal hate crimes for injuring 28 others, and other crimes.
Trump has previously advocated for violence at his rallies, promising to pay the legal fees if his supporters punch a counter-protester.
“Yeah get him out, try not to hurt him. If you do I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it,” Trump said at a rally on March 2016.
“I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump said in front of a crowd of supporters after a protester was removed from one of his rallies in Las Vegas on 23 February 2016.
“You know, part of the problem, and part of the reason it takes so long, is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?” Trump said at a tense rally in St. Louis, Missouri in March 2016. “And they’re being politically correct the way they take them out, so it takes a little bit longer. And honestly, protesters, they realize it. They realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences, there are none anymore.”
“He was a guy who was swinging [punches] — very loud, and then started swinging at the audience and you know what, the audience swung back, and I thought it was very, very appropriate,” Trump said at a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida on 11 March 2016. “He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of.”