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WATCH: Democratic Presidential Candidates Asked If They’ll Denounce Antifa

By  James Barrett
Unidentified Rose City Antifa members beat up Andy Ngo, a Portland-based journalist, on June 29, 2019 in Portland, Oregon.
Moriah Ratner/Getty Images

In a new video produced by conservative group TPUSA, several Democratic presidential candidates are asked at the Iowa State Fair if they will denounce the violence-embracing radical leftist group Antifa, which Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Bill Cassady (LA) want to be officially labeled a “domestic terrorist organization.” Most of the candidates refuse to specifically denounce Antifa, either stating that they’ve never heard of the group that has repeatedly been in the headlines over the last two years, ignoring the question, or insisting on staying general in their responses.

The man-on-the-street video, hosted by TPUSA’s Lauryn Gray along with other TPUSA activists, attempts to get some straight answers from the glad-handing candidates, who frequently appear annoyed by the question. TPUSA manages to talk with several Democratic candidates, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Gov. Jay Inslee (WA), front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), businessman Andrew Yang, former HUD Sec. Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), Rep. John Delaney (NJ), Gov. Steve Bullock (MT), Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson.

While TPUSA is generous in giving some of the candidates a checkmark for vaguely condemning Antifa, the reality is most of them are unwilling to expressly condemn the group, sticking only to generalizations about disavowing all violence and hate. Of those interviewed, Gabbard and Yang are the most emphatic in their denunciation of the group, while most of the other candidates resort to various deflections or generalizations.

Gillibrand claims that she doesn’t even know who the infamous group is. “I don’t know who Antifa is,” she says when asked if she’ll condemn them.

Inslee states, “I condemn violence of anyone against this community,” which he says has been “totally victimized in so many ways.” It’s unclear which “community” he is referencing. The governor then adds, “I don’t know exactly this organization you’re referring to, but if it’s the one I’m thinking of, then yes.” TPUSA gives Inslee the benefit of the doubt by putting him in the “Condemns Antifa” category.

Asked if he will denounce “the hate group Antifa,” Biden says, “Yes. The answer is I denounce all hate groups.”

Though he clearly hears the question about denouncing Antifa, De Blasio ignores the interviewer managing to maintain what appears like a slightly uncomfortable smile on his face as he strides on.

Like De Blasio, Sanders appears to be too busy walking wherever he’s walking to have time to respond.

Yang, who has supported Andy Ngo, who was violently assaulted by Antifa, is much more talkative and emphatically denounces all “violent extremism.”

Castro laughs when asked if he is willing to denounce Antifa but refuses to answer, saying only, “Thanks a lot for the question.”

Delaney says if Antifa resorts to violence, then he denounces it.

Bullock agrees that “we’re better” than “any group that spread seeds of discontent,” but ultimately fails to condemn Antifa, instead trying to blame Trump for “not standing up,” though to what he doesn’t explain.

Gabbard responds by pointing out that she’s already denounced Antifa.

Williamson responds by stating she’s “not denouncing anybody.”

In the resolution they presented to the Senate in July, Cruz and Cassidy lay out some of the violence the group has enacted over the last couple of years. Below is the full text of the resolution:

Title: Calling for the designation of Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization.

Whereas members of Antifa, because they believe that free speech is equivalent to violence, have used threats of violence in the pursuit of suppressing opposing political ideologies;

Whereas Antifa represents opposition to the democratic ideals of peaceful assembly and free speech for all;

Whereas members of Antifa have physically assaulted journalists and other individuals during protests and riots in Berkeley, California;

Whereas in February of 2018, journalist Andy Ngo was intimidated and threatened with violence by protestors affiliated with Antifa;

Whereas on June 29, 2019, while covering demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, journalist Andy Ngo was physically attacked by protestors affiliated with Antifa;

Whereas employees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (referred to in this preamble as “ICE”) were subjected to doxxing and violent threats after their social media profiles, phone numbers, and home addresses were posted on the Internet by left wing activists;

Whereas according to the Wall Street Journal, an ICE officer was followed by left wing activists and “confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp”, and another “had his name and photo plastered on flyers outside his home accusing him of being part of the ‘Gestapo’”;

Whereas the ICE office in southwest Portland, Oregon, was shut down for days due to threats and occupation by Antifa members;

Whereas Rose City Antifa, an Antifa group founded in 2007 in Portland, Oregon, explicitly rejects the authority of law enforcement officers in the United States, and Federal, State, and local governments, to protect free speech and stop acts of violence;

Whereas Rose City Antifa rejects the civil treatment of individuals the group labels as fascists, stating: “We can’t just argue against them; we have to prevent them from organizing by any means necessary.”; and

Whereas there is no place for violence in the discourse between people in the United States, or in any civil society, because the United States is a place where there is a diversity of ideas and opinions: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) calls for the groups and organizations across the country who act under the banner of Antifa to be designated as domestic terrorist organizations;

(2) unequivocally condemns the violent actions of Antifa groups as unacceptable acts for anyone in the United States;

(3) expresses the need for the peaceful communication of varied ideas in the United States;

(4) urges any group or organizations in the United States to voice its opinions without using violence or threatening the health, safety, or well-being of any other persons, groups, or law enforcement officers in the United States; and

(5) calls upon the Federal Government to redouble its efforts, using all available and appropriate tools, to combat the spread of all forms of domestic terrorism, including White supremacist terrorism.

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