Berkeley, CA, Mayor Jesse Arreguin has called “Antifa,” a street gang, and said police should start treating protesters in the anti-fascist movement accordingly.
Legislators in Sacramento have also advanced resolutions that would treat violent acts committed by antifa movement’s enemies — white nationalists and neo-Nazis — as terrorist acts under state law.
As forces on the extremes of the nation’s ever-widening political divide continue to battle with fists and weapons on the streets of California, law enforcement officials and politicians have started debating whether these extremist groups should be classified as street gangs.
Such a designation could give law enforcement new tools to combat the groups. Numerous laws on the books give authorities the power to restrict the movements of gang members and enhance criminal charges against them.
But such a move raises legal issues because unlike with traditional street gangs, the underlying motive of these extremist groups is political expression rather than criminal enterprise, the Los Angeles Times reports.