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More Heads Bashed by Antifa in Portland

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Antifa victim (Photo: Twitter)
Antifa victim (Photo: Twitter)

Details of more attacks by Antifa in Portland have revealed that two elderly men were severely injured by the Far Left demonstrators as well as the brutal attack on conservative journalist Andy Ngo.


While 15 journalists have been attacked by Antifa, the mainstream media –specifically CNN — is still giving the group a pass, calling the group a “good cause” and “on the side of right” because “sometimes you can’t fight by praising them or being nice to them. You gotta fight fire with fire…”

A CNN pundit also opined that Antifa should be compared to the America soldiers who stormed the beaches on D-Day.

Is America seeing the beginning of a movement of violent vigilante groups that will rule the streets,much like other countries have experienced? In previous Antifa violence in Portland, police were told to stand down (a decision supported by the mayor). Was this also the case in the current attacks? And if so, why?

While political heads are getting answers to these questions, one thing we can say is that the attacks perpetrated by Antifa in Portland draws parallels from studies out of Nigeria on vigilante groups and the radicalization process.

Last month, I spoke with Dr. Kingsley Madueke who studies ethnic and extremist violence, and is currently in Nigeria doing fieldwork on non-state security groups. His work focuses on vigilantism in one of the most challenged socioeconomic environments in the world.

In my two-hour conversation with him, there were many points of interest where an on-the-ground situation in Nigeria ironically resembled parts of American cities that are seeing the rise of their own form of vigilante justice — or at least vigilantism is how these groups would like to see themselves.

What I interpreted from my conversation with Dr. Kingsley Madueke were the following points that string together two otherwise distant corners of the globe, both arguably suffering from similar frameworks for escalating violence:

  • In Nigeria, ethnic violence is presented as a religious movement but is in fact often people using the conflict to settle personal scores. Criminals are working across group lines in order to justify their behavior through through group. The same holds true in the U.S. as violent mobs and protests are used to justify group dynamic, giving wide opportunity to conceal personal behavior as part of the group. As the United States sees an increase in protests and movements, expect to see more rogue agents and criminal behavior being expressed as group outrage.
  • Vigilante violence in Nigeria is propelled by social distance. People living in close proximity can actually be ideologically apart. As political divides deepen — especially when fueled by increasing economic and cost of living challenges — can we expect to see the same tensions erupting in major U.S. cities?
  • In his fieldwork, Dr. Madueke encountered group radicalization, often forming in segregated neighborhoods because it was easier to align oneself based on where population groups were already parceled. The same question can be posed to Portland’s Antifa scene when looking at why an Antifa presence there has grown over years. Is Antifa attracting more recruits ideologically, or are people aligning with the protests and engaging in violence based on proximity and peer response?

Dr. Madueke and I both agreed that one of the issues here is a problem of role models. As Dr. Madueke describes,

“When the violence was at its peak, people were so afraid to speak against Boko Haram [in Nigeria] because you can become a target.”

The same holds true in the United States with an increase in doxing the opposition as a form of ideological battle designed to harass opponents. What’s needed here is law enforcement presence, legal action where applicable, and writers and leaders working as bridge builders instead of as ideological arsonists fueling an already volatile environment.

 

RELATED STORIES

How Vigilante Groups Impact Societies

Nigeria Under Attack: Army Unsuccessful Against Boko Haram

Nigeria: Special Forces Teach How to Fight Terrorists

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.