The FBI and other federal agencies have warned, however, that far-right groups will try to incite violence in the George Floyd protests.
- The FBI has "no intelligence" indicating that "antifa" was involved in violence over the weekend related to protests following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, The Nation reported.
- President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and several Republican lawmakers have blamed antifa for violence linked to protests that took place on Sunday.
- But according to The Nation, which cited an internal FBI situation report, the bureau's Washington, DC, field office "has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence" in the violence that took place that day.
- However, the FBI and other government agencies warn that far-right white supremacist groups will use the protests to incite violence and attack federal agents.
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The FBI has collected no intelligence indicating that "antifa" was involved in violence over the weekend related to protests over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, The Nation reported.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr both blamed antifa — a loosely organized left-wing group consisting of anti-fascism activists — for violence linked to a series of protests that took place on Sunday.
Trump announced on Twitter that day that "the United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."
Barr released a statement afterward echoing the president's sentiments, saying, "The violence instigated and carried out by antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."
But according to The Nation, which cited an internal FBI situation report, the bureau's Washington, DC, field office "has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence" in the violence that took place on Sunday.
The FBI report listed a series of violent acts including instances of bricks being thrown at police officers and a backpack that contained explosives. But based on "CHS [Confidential Human Source] canvassing, open source/social media partner engagement, and liaison," the bureau had no evidence that those acts were directly linked to antifa, The Nation said.
But the FBI's report did warn that people associated with a far-right social-media group had "called for far-right provocateurs to attack federal agents" and "use automatic weapons against protesters."
Politico also reported on Monday that a Department of Homeland Security intelligence note warned law-enforcement officials that a white supremacist channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram encouraged its followers to incite violence to start a race war during the protests.
Citing the FBI, it said that two days after Floyd's death, the channel "incited followers to engage in violence and start the 'boogaloo' — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd."
One of the messages in the channel called for potential shooters to "frame the crowd around you" for the violence, the note said, according to Politico.
On May 29, the note said, "suspected anarchist extremists and militia extremists allegedly planned to storm and burn the Minnesota State Capitol."
NBC News also reported on Monday that Twitter had identified a group posing as an "antifa" organization calling for violence in the protests as actually being linked to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
Twitter suspended the account, @ANTIFA_US, after it posted a tweet that incited violence. A company spokesperson also told NBC News that the account violated Twitter's rules against platform manipulation and spam.
These developments come as protests against racism and police brutality continue across the country. Peaceful demonstrations have taken place in more than 75 cities, though some have spiraled into chaos and deadly violence as law-enforcement officials use heavy-handed crowd-control tactics.
Some protests involved smaller groups looting businesses and, in a few cases, setting fire to buildings and cars.
A number of Republican lawmakers have echoed Trump and Barr in blaming antifa for the more violent demonstrations and called for the US to deploy the military to forcefully subdue them.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida suggested earlier in the day that protesters demonstrating against police brutality are part of antifa and should be hunted down like terrorists.
"Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?" Gaetz tweeted. Twitter later flagged the post for violating its rules against glorifying violence but left it up because it determined it was in the "public interest" for the tweet to still be accessible, though users cannot like, retweet, or reply to it.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also advocated for using military force against protesters and indicated that they should be shown no mercy.
"We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction," Cotton wrote, calling protesters "antifa terrorists."
"And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry — whatever it takes to restore order," he added. "No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters."
"No quarter" is a military term that means a commander will not accept the lawful surrender of an enemy combatant and suggests the captive will instead be killed. The practice is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.