When supporters of former President Donald Trump violently broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the melee left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
Even though many of the rioters waved Trump flags and wore Trump hats, some Republican politicians quickly blamed the intrusion on Antifa.
It happened first on social media, then Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Florida, brought the rumor to the House floor.
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“Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters,” Gaetz said. “They were masquerading as Trump supporters, in fact (they) were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.”
Oren Segal runs the Center on Extremism for the Anti-Defamation League.
“There’s absolutely no evidence of that. And to me, that sounds like a classic disinformation campaign,” Segal said.
Segal and a team of researchers scour the internet monitoring hate groups and share what they find with law enforcement.
“So what we know is the disinformation and rumor about Antifa being there without any evidence that they actually were,” Segal said.
Steven D’Antuono, who is the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said in a Jan. 8 press call “there is no evidence” Antifa was involved.
But some of those arrested for the Capitol violence have been associated with right-wing extremist groups.
The FBI arrested 37-year-old Joseph Biggs from Volusia County, who they described as a member of the Proud Boys, a nationalist organization with multiple chapters. Brigg is a self-described “organizer” of some of their events, according to the arrest affidavit.
Jacob Chansley, of Arizona, was also arrested. He is a self-proclaimed leader in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, according to authorities.
Mark Bray is a professor at Rutgers and a historian.
“They didn’t wear masks. So they’re easily identifiable. We know who they were,” Bray said.
Bray also wrote the book, “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
He said Antifa is not an organization with members, but a left-leaning movement that opposes far-right extremists along with white supremacy, racism and homophobia, Bray said.
“It’s true that Antifa groups, among the things they do, is physically confront the far right, so we saw conflicts in Charlottesville,” Bray said.
According to Bray, Antifa gained new prominence in the United States in 2017 after a clash with the white supremacist, Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Unfortunately, extremism, like many things in this country, has become very politicized,” Segal said.
Segal said politicians have portrayed Antifa to be more organized and violent than they actually are.
“The left in America has incited far more political violence than the right,” Gaetz has also said on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“Antifa, has been discussed as somehow the No. 1 terrorist threat, despite all the numbers proving the complete opposite,” Segal said.
Based on information from the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League and a historian, we give the claim of Antifa being involved in the attack on the Capitol a rating of Not True on the Trust Index.