Andy Ngo is a journalist based in Portland, Oregon who covers Antifa. He was infamously bruised and bloodied by the communist group in June of 2019, causing Ngo to suffer a cerebral hemorrhage, the effects of which continue to affect him until the present time. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: Why did you start collecting Antifa’s arrest records?
Ngo: It is an important information book for the public. Part of what makes Antifa a dangerous movement is that they rely on anonymity. And because the movement is anonymous the only information we have are through the arrest records and mugshots. Through that, I’ve been able to piece together a clearer picture of the demographics of who is involved.
Luis Enrique Marquez, 47, has been arrested & charged numerous times at antifa riots in the Portland-area. As one of the most active members of Rose City Antifa, Marquez has been recorded violently confronting people. More details & pics: https://t.co/OKxJL4wbGT #AntifaMugshots pic.twitter.com/CeTMrFbinO
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) January 9, 2020
Q: What kind of people are involved in Antifa?
Ngo: Antifa spans several classes of people. There are ideologues who are straight from the Ivory Tower, university students, and those who are vulnerable in dealing with instability and mental health issues related to homelessness and gender dysphoria. Antifa groups will welcome these people in, embrace them with a shared ideology and radicalize them. If they happen to get arrested or charged or convicted, these people are kind of easily disposed of, in a way?
Alexander G. Dial, aka "BETA CUCK 4 LYFE," was filmed in Aug. at a Portland riot beating people w/weapons. He was indicted for felony riot, felony assault, unlawful use of a stun gun or tear gas & fourth-degree assault. #AntifaMugshots More details & pics: https://t.co/Rb27ObSqqY pic.twitter.com/0Wf4RpZhEl
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) January 8, 2020
As much as I have been vocally critical against this movement, I do have sympathy insofar as they are people who have the potential to do a lot with their lives, but instead have been pulled into a movement that will use and discard them.
Nicholas James Armstrong/Nikki Jameson is a Seattle-area transsexual antifa militant who was arrested yesterday & charged with reckless endangerment. She also has a criminal record in Idaho, where this booking photo is from. More details: https://t.co/7M1JJSZY2m #AntifaMugshots pic.twitter.com/vGS4bFPELe
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) January 6, 2020
Q: Are you concerned for your safety, releasing the mugshots and arrest records?
Ngo: Yes. They have the address of my family, where my mother works, and they’re escalating [threats against me]. About six of them showed up at my home on Halloween and were pounding on the windows and doors. So I am concerned for my safety. Due to the threats, I’m not really able to stay in Portland much longer.
Q: Are there times that you think about moving on to another beat because of the danger?
Ngo: I think about that all the time. But if I don’t do it, there isn’t really anybody else.
Q: How does your family respond to your work?
Ngo: They’re concerned. They ask me why I work on something so potentially dangerous to myself and those around me. I just try to explain to them just how important it is.
Q: Do you think mainstream media avoid investigating Antifa mainly because its journalists are afraid?
Ngo: I don’t think it’s because they’re afraid; I think it’s because many mainstream journalists are sympathetic to Antifa. My view is that Antifa would not have been able to get by doing without the media covering for them. Antifa depends on the wider public viewing them as unsung heroes in order for them to do such brutal, medieval violent activities on citizens.
Q: Should Antifa be characterized as a terrorist group?
Ngo: I would describe their activities as terrorist activities. What makes them less deadly than jihadist groups is that they lack the funding streams to acquire weapons. But I think if they did have that, they would engage in that violence.
Q: Have you ever tried to speak with the members?
Ngo: Yes. I tried to let them know that they were misinformed about me. I did this every time up until my beating.
Q: What was it like, speaking to them?
Ngo: The point of wearing the black block is to make it so that these militants are no longer individuals — you’re part of a mass. So when I spoke to them, it wasn’t like I was speaking to an individual. It was like speaking to people who only had ideology.
Q: What kind of emotions did you see there under the surface?
Ngo: Anger and hatred. The times I have seen them attack people — they’re animalistic, I would say. The part of the brain that is driving them in those moments … it’s the primal desire to maim, to injure, to kill.
Q: I just want to circle back to your political views. What has shaped your ideology?
Ngo: I used to be a social justice warrior back in my undergrad days. I used to be someone who embraced the victimhood worldview, which is the undercurrent of the Antifa ideology. So I have a drive to show how this worldview is part of the same continuum toward the violent extremism of Antifa and other far-left movements. It’s not out of a partisan hatred, but rather I can see where they are coming from since that used to be appealing to me.
Q: What was appealing about the victimhood mentality?
Ngo: It was appealing to direct hatred and anger at others for my own failings because it meant I didn’t have to take responsibility. It’s much easier to blame a “system.”
Q: Was there a “Eureka” moment when you snapped out of that mentality?
Ngo: Yeah there was a moment where I had to finally come to terms with myself — that only I am responsible for my actions, my successes as well as my failures. I can blame everything and anything around me and while that may feel soothing, it doesn’t actually change the reality of my situation until I make different choices.
Q: Last but not least, how has your recovery been since the incident in June 2019?
Ngo: I’m doing a lot better, but I still struggle with cognitive stuff like memory. I have really intensive physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy to help me recover.