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 often take advantage of otherwise legal protests to attack law enforcement, conduct violent counter-protests, and destroy public and private property.
Anti-fascist groups, or “Antifa,” are a subset of the anarchist movement and focus on opposing fascism as well as other perceived social injustices.
Threat to New Jersey: Moderate
Anarchist extremists will continue to mobilize in response to issues they perceive as unjust, engage in doxing campaigns, and exploit open carry laws to arm themselves for defensive purposes. In 2017, anarchist extremists were active across the United States, including in New Jersey, and employed a variety of tactics to combat perceived injustices.
In February 2017, an estimated 100 anarchist extremist protesters forced the University of California, Berkeley to cancel a controversial speaker’s appearance. The individuals infiltrated a peaceful protest and set fires, destroyed property, attacked crowd members, threw projectiles, and launched fireworks at law enforcement, resulting in over $100,000 in damage. In response to the cancellation, far-right extremists held a rally, which anarchist extremists again disrupted, resulting in 10 arrests and seven injuries.
Following a white supremacist extremist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, an anarchist-affiliated website engaged in a doxing campaign, which involved the releasing of an individual’s personally identifiable information online. The campaign attempted to expose the identities of attendees at the rally.
In September, an anarchist group organized an armed protest in Kansas City, Missouri, in response to the continued attendance of armed militia at protests. Additionally, following an attempted vehicle attack on anarchist extremist protesters in Vancouver, Washington, the group stated on its social media page, “Another reason for the open carry of weapons. If someone tried this we would have sent him to the cemetery.”
New Jersey Nexus
Throughout 2017, militia extremists have attempted to act as security at protests and rallies as a way to “assist” law enforcement, often confusing the public and putting first responders at risk.
A majority of New Jersey-based anarchist groups are affiliated with the Antifa subset and are opposed to racism and other perceived social injustices. There are three loosely organized chapters in New Jersey, known as the North Jersey Antifa, the South Jersey Antifa, and the HubCity Antifa New Brunswick (Middlesex County).
In March 2017, a small fight occurred between Antifa members and supporters of the US President during a rally in Seaside Heights (Ocean County). Advanced publicity about the event on social media enabled local and state law enforcement officers to prepare and keep altercations to a minimum.