Members of the American right-wing group Proud Boys and Antifa, a left-wing community, who are often labelled as ‘anti-fascists, clashed at a demonstration in Oregon’s Portland on Saturday, according to US media reports.

The word ‘Antifa’ has been making rounds in the mainstream media after Donald Trump became President of the United States in January 2017. Meanwhile, Republicans often brand them as an organised group of ‘terrorists’, who should come under the national watch list.

Trump had even blamed them for the anti-racism movements that surfaced in the US after the police killing of George Floyd, and has threatened to designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation.

What really is Antifa?

To keep it simple, Antifa is a loosely affiliated group of anti-fascism far-left wing activists, who are scattered around different parts of the US and a few other countries. According to a New York Times report, the president’s critics have said that the movement does not have one particular leader or a defined structure, and neither does it have any membership roles.

Antifa is more like a political movement of individuals who share the same ideologies and tactics, experts say. 

Who are the members?

As mentioned earlier, Antifa is a loosely affiliated movement of individuals following the same ideologies and not an organised group. Hence, counting the numbers of the members is quite an impossible task to execute. Antifa is a political movement, supporters of which have come together to protest against the far-right ideologies and groups. The advocates of Antifa oppose actions they think are authoritarian, homophobic, racist, or xenophobic.

Despite not being affiliated with any left wing group, the members of antifa often come together with groups advocating similar issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

What do they want?

Members of Antifa want to stop things they view as racist and fascist. They also seek to prohibit far-right groups from having a platform to express their views, as they think that further sharing of those ideas will make the already marginalised groups, including the LGBTQ community, women and racial minorities, face more attacks.

“The argument is that militant anti-fascism is inherently self-defense because of the historically documented violence that fascists pose, especially to marginalized people,” The New York Times quoted a history professor Mark Bray, as saying.

Antifa and Donald Trump

On May 31, 2020, amid the protests against the brutal police killing of George Floyd, a black man, Trump tweeted that the US will designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation. He had blamed the movement for inciting violence during the protests.

The announcement sparked controversy as legal advisors said that the US government had no legal authority to do so.