Anarchism is the belief that society should exist absent of “oppressive” governments, laws, police, or any other authority. Anarchist extremists advocate violence in furtherance of this idea, typically focusing on sub-movements such as anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-globalism, and environmental extremism.
Anarchist extremists, or those subscribing to the ideology that condones violence and the use of force, do not have a central leadership and lack organizational hierarchy. These extremists are event-driven and often take advantage of otherwise legal protests to conduct violent counter-protests, destroy public and private property, and attack law enforcement.
Common attack targets, chosen for their symbols of capitalism and government, include commercial infrastructure and the financial sector. Vandalism and arson are the most common attack types.
A majority of New Jersey-based anarchist extremists are affiliated with Antifa and focus on issues of racism, immigration, and other perceived social injustices. There are three loosely organized chapters in New Jersey, known as North Jersey Antifa, South Jersey Antifa, and HubCity Antifa based in New Brunswick (Middlesex County).
Threat to New Jersey: Moderate
Anarchist extremists will mobilize in response to issues they believe are unjust, carry out criminal and violent acts during otherwise First Amendment-protected events and protests, and target perceived enemies. Throughout 2018, anarchist extremists were actively engaged in criminal activities in the tri-state region, resulting in at least 20 arrests.
In November, several hundred people, including a number of anarchist extremists, mobilized at the “We the People” rally in Philadelphia, which they perceived as a white supremacist event. That same month, an Antifa-related group, Smash Racism DC, vandalized and protested outside the home of the founder of the Daily Caller, stating that he was “promoting hate” and “an ideology that has led to thousands of people dying.”
Following the “We the People” rally in Philadelphia in November, a group of individuals, including anarchist extremists, Maced, punched, and kicked US Marine Corps reservists not affiliated with the event while calling them “Nazis” and “white supremacists.” In October, anarchist extremists protested outside a Proud Boys event in New York City and engaged in acts of vandalism. After the event, one of the anarchist extremists threw a bottle at the Proud Boys, resulting in a fight.
In June, a Nebraska-based anarchist extremist group tweeted a link to the names and photos of nearly 1,600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Following the release, another individual disseminated the names, pictures, and home addresses of seven ICE employees and their spouses in Oregon, stating, “It’s the public’s right to know the faces of the gestapo and who is creating, enforcing, and filling concentration camps in our name.”
Antifa, or anti-fascists, is a movement that focuses on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustices. The majority of Antifa members do not promote or endorse violence; however, the movement consists of anarchist extremists and other individuals who seek to carry out acts of violence in order to forward their respective agendas.