- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2020

Self-described anti-fascist activists known as Antifa will be scrutinized during a hearing on Capitol Hill being convened next week by Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican announced Thursday.

Mr. Cruz, the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, said its members will hold a hearing next Wednesday, July 29, involving both Antifa and the First Amendment.

Citing ongoing demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, Mr. Cruz charged that Antifa participants are allegedly using peaceful protests “as a cover and an excuse” to break the law.

“Americans have a constitutional right to gather, protest, and otherwise have their voices heard, but they must do so peacefully,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement.

“The hearing will highlight how Antifa and other anarchists are hijacking peaceful protests and engaging in political violence that is not only criminal, but antithetical to the First Amendment,” Mr. Cruz added.

Witnesses for the hearing, titled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence,” have not yet been announced.

Antifa says its roots extend back nearly 100 years ago to Europeans who opposed fascists like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler rising to power in Italy and Germany, respectively.

More recently, Antifa activists have been among the demonstrators participating in protests taking place in Portland other U.S. cities following the racially charged killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by police in Minnesota in late May.

Nearly two months since Floyd’s death, President Trump deployed Department of Homeland Security personnel to Portland last week to quell the unrest and said he planned to send more federal offices to other cities, all run by Democrats, for law enforcement purposes.

“These are anarchists. These are not protestors,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday. “These are people that hate our country. And we’re not going to let it go forward.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security also plans to hold a hearing next week to examine the situation in Portland, albeit not the part being played by Antifa.

“The Administration’s actions are not only violent and clearly politically motivated, they are anathema to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and a threat to every value for which our Republic stands,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said in a statement announcing the hearing Thursday. “Despite this extreme escalation, DHS has given Congress no justification for its actions. That is why I am convening an urgent hearing on this matter.”

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