Domestic Terrorism Charges Follow ‘Antifa’ Riot


An Antifa member carries a flag during a protest | Image by Matt Gush/Shutterstock

After rioters in Atlanta smashed windows, burned police cars, and ignited makeshift explosives over the weekend, questions continue to simmer regarding what constitutes domestic terrorism.

At least one police car was engulfed by flames, an ATM was damaged, and several storefronts on Peachtree Street had their windows broken before police were able to restore order.

The riots in Atlanta came after an environmental activist, identified as Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, allegedly fired at police during a confrontation and was reportedly shot and killed in a forested area near the city where a new police training facility is slated for construction.

On January 18, law enforcement personnel entered the forest and removed “approximately 25 campsites,” according to a press release, finding, “mortar-style fireworks, multiple-edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch.”

Seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism, with none being from Georgia or any other state in the South. It was during this operation that Teran was shot and killed.

The Twitter account for Defend the Atlanta Forest shared on January 18, “Police killed a forest defender today, someone who loved the forest, someone who fought to protect the earth & its inhabitants.”

Atlanta police arrested six rioters charged with the state offense of domestic terrorism, first-degree arson, and interference with government property. Only one person was from Georgia.

Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an attorney to tell you that breaking windows or setting fires is not protesting; that is terrorism.”

In response to pushback for arresting and charging some of the rioters, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted, “You cannot come to our state, break our laws, throw rocks at buildings, damage property, and shoot police officers.”

Additionally, some Georgian public officials, such as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, suggested that the riots were more evidence that “Antifa” and Antifa-like groups should be labeled domestic terrorists.

She later continued on Twitter, writing, “When will our federal agencies start taking left-wing TERRORISM seriously?… ANTIFA/BLM = DOMESTIC TERRORISTS!”

Others, however, have denied allegations that the protesters are domestic terrorists. Georgia state Rep. Ruwa Romman (D-Duluth) suggested that the protesters were “peaceful” and that “people who do not care about making our community better sabotage these movements.”

“Why exacerbate conflict? Why further alienate the public?” she continued. “The bigger gap between leaders’ decisions … and what the public needs, the further instability we will see.”

“Domestic terrorism,” as defined in the U.S. legal code, describes activities that “involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life” which are intended “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government; … or to affect the conduct of a government.”

However, it is not a chargeable federal offense, although several bills related to the issue have been filed, including a resolution to explicitly label Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. To date, Antifa has not been classified as a group engaging in domestic terrorism by federal law enforcement officials.

The RAND Corporation, a public policy research organization, explained in 2020, “One of the challenges in attempting to designate Antifa as a terrorist group is that the United States only maintains a list of foreign terrorist organizations.”

“We don’t have a domestic counterpart,” the group continued. “There’s no legal framework for designating a domestic group as a terrorist group.”

Kyle Shideler, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert at the Center for Security Policy, explained to The Dallas Express, “When you’re talking about domestic terrorism laws in the United States, there is no domestic terrorism list of groups that you could say, ‘they’re a member of such and such group; therefore, they are a domestic terrorist.'”

However, Shideler said that it is still reasonable to define groups such as Antifa as domestic terrorists because members commit “these different crimes that we think of as being terrorism … and are attached to a political motive of intimidation.”

“You very commonly see the use of, for example, illegally modified commercial fireworks, which are turned into explosives and then thrown at either law enforcement, buildings, or people,” he suggested. “You have the use of Molotov cocktails, which would fall under felony arson, which is very common as domestic terrorism predicates.”

When asked why federal law enforcement officials have refused to treat groups like Antifa as domestic terrorists, Shideler responded, “I think there are certainly elements of the federal government that are much more comfortable painting with a broad brush when they’re talking about right-wing extremists … than they are when talking about left-wing extremists.

“There are members of the Democratic Party that have from time to time put pressure on law enforcement not to use certain terms, not to refer to certain groups,” he claimed. “I think especially the FBI, but also the Department of Justice and other federal law enforcement agencies are very conscious of who writes the checks.

“And so they’re very reluctant to say or label groups that may get defended by elements of the Democratic Party,” Shideler concluded.

The Dallas Express asked the FBI whether it had considered treating Antifa or Antifa-related groups as domestic terrorists but received no response.

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

Why are they trying to get federal statutes against terrorism when the proper venue is the states. When you depend on the federal government, you’re dealing with a bureaucracy that is pretty much immune from public opinion. The state governments are much more responsive to their constituencies. If you get a state such as Oregon that wishes to de-criminalize political terrorism, at least the violence is confined to Oregon. If you want the option of a low-crime state, push for state control over local crime and terrorism. Residents of Oregon can always move. If you have federal jurisdiction, once the terrorism is politically protected, there will be no safe havens at all.

2 months ago

Read that definition three times then think about the civil protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Literally 80% would be considered domestic terrorists under that definition. Yet those same protests were over the murderous and unlawful activities of government such as Kent State Massacre.
I will say that IF the same measure is used against the left as was used against Jan 6 peaceful protests, almost every one of them would be in a prison for many years.

R Reason
R Reason
2 months ago

This is an total spin-job by a whack-job media source.

Marjorie, the conspiracy theorist that downplayed the U.S. Capitol attacks is now hyping up BB-gun armed tree-huggers at a homeless camp in Georgia, as terrorists?

Meanwhile, short-sighted DX news pushes their own destructive agenda that includes propaganda and expert testimony from far-right media source to add fuel to the fire of scandal and blame on the “weaponized” FBI and DOJ.  

Meanwhile, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, blocked by Republicans just last year goes unmentioned, possibly because it emphasizes, “White supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States.”

Lies matter; deceit is lying.

1 month ago

only 7 were arrested,that should tell you something

1 month ago

Antifa isn’t antifascist. They are anticapitalist & they said they would never stop fighting for communism. Anticap is a better word for them. The people “traumatized” by Jan 6 call this riot a picnic.

Last edited 1 month ago by GernBlanston