In an email to local media Feb. 1, Rose City Antifa seemed to distance itself from recent protests that have led to vandalism.
"Rose City Antifa has not been organizing recent protests, although we stand in solidarity with those who express opposition to current systems of oppression," the Portland anti-fascist group, founded in 2007, wrote.
"While many of the people involved may consider themselves anti-fascists in ideology, we narrowly define anti-fascism as actions taken to oppose the insurgent right wing," the group said. "Under this definition, protests that are not involved in direct opposition to far-right violence and instead combat the state, capitalism, etc., would…be more accurately described as anarchist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, or another term."
The anti-fascists' effort to draw such a distinction marks the first time Rose City Antifa has denied responsibility for Portland's civil unrest.
It follows several instances since autumn in which Portland protesters destroyed property, most notably at an Inauguration Day rally where dozens tagged and smashed the windows of the Democratic Party of Oregon's headquarters.
During that event, some held up a sign that read "We don't want Biden—We want revenge."
In its Feb. 1 statement, Rose City Antifa explained its stance on the Biden administration.
"While we are glad [Trump] is gone, the systems that empowered him and emboldened white supremacist groups in this country are still very much in place," RCA wrote. "Changing administrations has not eradicated the threat of fascism, and it's plausible that as insurgent right-wing groups lose power in more mainstream political channels that they will adopt violent guerrilla tactics like we saw on Jan. 6."
Here's the full text of the statement:
Over the last year we've seen a lot of confusion and misinformation about antifascism in the press. In an effort to clear up some of the misconceptions about our work, we wanted to reach out to you as researchers, and fellow Portlanders, to offer our services. We've published a wealth of information about the insurgent far-right in the Pacific Northwest on our website, including detailed information about the organizing of the local Proud Boys who recently participated in the January 6th riot at the Capitol. Additionally, we have a great deal more information and context about the far-right that goes unpublished but may be of value to your reporting.
We are happy to work with the media whenever we can in order to ensure that you have the information and context you need for your reporting. Our capacity for recorded interviews can vary at times but we can almost always respond to emailed questions in a timely manner and we work very hard to make time for other formats whenever possible. Going forward please reach out if you need anything!
Regarding misconceptions, below we have some FAQs for your reference.
1. What do antifascists do? How do you do it?
** While antifascism is a broad ideology, we define it as actions taken against the insurgent right-wing. To this end, our work includes in-depth research into far-right groups and provocateurs, educating the community on the findings of our research, and taking steps to directly oppose these groups and individuals. We primarily use open-source intelligence to conduct this research and work within the Portland community to build a sustainable antifascist culture in Portland.
2. What is Rose City Antifa's role in recent political protests?
** Rose City Antifa has not been organizing recent protests, although we stand in solidarity with those who express opposition to current systems of oppression. Our focus is on combatting the insurgent right wing, so we keep our scope small and specific to opposing far-right groups and individuals that actively threaten our community. In general, when we are involved in any events as an organization, we promote it on our social media and include our group name and logo on flyers or other promotions. If an event does not have our name on the promotional materials, it is safe to assume we are not involved in it.
3. How has the "antifa movement" been involved in recent protests?
** While many of the people involved may consider themselves antifascists in ideology, we narrowly define antifascism as actions taken to oppose the insurgent right-wing. Under this definition, protests that are not involved in direct opposition to far-right violence and instead combat the state, capitalism, etc. would not be considered antifascist protests. Instead, these would be more accurately described as anarchist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, or another term reflecting the specific ideology of the participants. We recommend reaching out to groups who have promoted events or, if they are unresponsive, researching their ideologies in order to determine the most accurate description of their goals and tactics.
4. How does RCA feel about the Biden administration?
** We always remind people that our group was founded shortly before the Obama presidency, an administration during which Biden served as vice-president, and one during which we saw the rise of the alt-right to the national stage and the rapid growth of fringe, anti-government militia movements. Trump did not create those conditions, he was supported by them. While we are glad he is gone, the systems that empowered him and emboldened white supremacist groups in this country are still very much in place. Changing administrations has not eradicated the threat of fascism and it's plausible that as insurgent right wing groups lose power in more mainstream political channels that they will adopt violent guerrilla tactics like we saw on January 6th.
Again, we're reaching out to you because we recognize that our work is often mysterious or misunderstood and we want to make sure that you know that we're available to you as a resource. We post information when we have it on both our website and our Twitter, both linked below. If you have any further questions about our group, the state of far-right organizing in the Pacific Northwest or anything else regarding our work please don't hesitate to reach out.
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Rose City Antifa