On a Saturday morning last month, two dozen masked, black-clad individuals gathered outside the entrance to Boeing’s Museum of Flight in Seattle. Their target was a 28-year-old mechanic at Boeing’s Auburn plant named Nicholas Boling. The communist agitators unfurled a 12-foot banner with Mr. Boling’s name and picture accompanied by the words, “A VIOLENT MISOGYNIST WORKS AT BOEING.”
In the weeks leading up, Antifa groups operating in the Pacific Northwest flooded Boeing’s human resources department with scripted phone calls claiming Mr. Boling was a member of a “hate group” and had assaulted a bartender (Mr. Boling denies both of these accusations). Threatening text messages from anonymous numbers inundated his phone. Parts of Seattle became papered in flyers with his photo, claiming he was a “Nazi.” Then there was the murder attempt, when someone poked holes in the brake lines of his truck and it nearly crashed.
Local law enforcement was no help. “It’s undeniable this is all because of my role as a conservative activist,” Mr. Boling says. “I go to a lot of events, I helped organized a May Day counter-protest and was involved with the Patriot Prayer.” Days after the demonstration outside Boeing, he was fired.
Last week, after an Antifa mob attempted to break into the home of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host called the actions a concerted effort to silence dissenting opinions. “They weren’t protesting anything […] they weren’t trying to change my mind or advocate a position, they were threatening my family to get me to stop talking,” Mr. Carlson said on Fox News. “This has a chilling effect on people’s ability to speak and think freely. That’s the point. It’s totalitarian in its intent.”
Assault and vandalism are perhaps the least troubling of Antifa’s crimes. Harmeet Dhillon, a civil rights lawyer in California and National Republican Committeewoman, says federal civil rights indictments have simply fallen out of fashion, perhaps due to years of those laws being used against law enforcement during the Obama administration.
“The federal government in recent years has chosen to not bring civil rights cases. They could and should prosecute these things. Whoever the attorney general ends up being, if they say, ‘I don’t like this’ and tell the criminal division or the civil rights division to start prosecuting these things, they will get prosecuted by the federal government,” Ms. Dhillon says.
In the early days of Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, well-funded groups like the ACLU targeted police for civil rights violations against disruptive leftists. Today, urban, liberal jurisdictions with leadership sympathetic to Antifa continue to give stand-down orders to officers and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice has not shown any interest in pursuing civil rights cases in favor of conservative, dissenting voices. The head of Mr. Sessions’ Civil Rights Division was only confirmed last month, two years into Donald Trump’s presidency.
“If the default orders to the police are to stand down, you won’t be able to gather the evidence you need to find out who paid for your mask, who paid for your weapon, who paid for your signs, who crowdsourced 100 criminals to come to this venue to stop these people from speaking,” Ms. Dhillon, who is currently representing such a case involving an assault on a Trump supporter in San Jose, says.
After the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, Antifa’s photo-negative ancestors, sought to silence and intimidate black Americans from voting and organizing. Congress passed a law that would later become U.S. Code section 241, which highlights, “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Attorneys say Antifa may not only be gross civil rights violators, but guilty of conspiracy and racketeering as well.
Mainstream media/Big Tech remains Antifa’s greatest ally and most useful tool. Mr. Carlson’s home address was published on the Twitter account of the group responsible. CNN continues to unironically refer to the group as “anti-fascist protesters.” Those who targeted Mr. Boling at work made an official event on Facebook. The anonymous phone numbers used to harass individuals like Mr. Boling, an increasingly common tactic of left-wing agitators, are generated using a feature on Google Voice. Oddly, when I googled “USC section 241” the top results were for section 242, which applies to government conspiracy against rights, not private citizens like Antifa. (Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo didn’t deploy this sleight of hand).
As speculations fly over Mr. Trump’s next pick for attorney general, let’s hope at least someone asks what he or she plans to do about political violence and intimidation. “It takes prosecutors becoming more creative and bold about doing this,” Ms. Dhillon says. “At the top of the food chain is an attorney general who sees this as a national problem, and it is, and they see it as a civil rights problem, and then gives instructions to find a case.”
In many of these cases, particularly where street brawling is concerned, no one is completely innocent. Mr. Boling admits he’s no country club Republican. He’s been punched at Trump rallies and he’s hit back. But he says he would never conspire to take away someone’s livelihood or civil rights over political disagreement. The young mechanic continues to look for work, albeit with dwindling optimism. “I’m letting the dust settle. I’m not handling it very well,” he says. “My life is in a weird state. I wasn’t expecting to start over at nearly 30. I don’t know what to do.”
• Chadwick Moore is a New York-based journalist and political commentator focusing on trade, free speech and media accountability. He is currently working on his first book.
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