Charlottesville jury selection shows how deep Antifa’s right-wing smear has penetrated

Charlottesville jury selection shows how deep Antifa’s right-wing smear has penetrated


Indeed, the judges’ opinion of antifa seemed to be a critical factor in their selection. The defendants and their lawyers argued fiercely against anyone who might have a favorable view of the movement, including whether or not they read Daily Kos. The prosecutors’ lawyers, meanwhile, were concerned about people who said they believed the smear.

A lawyer for the prosecutors, who argued for the dismissal of a possible juror, told Judge Norman Moon: “People with extreme views on antifa may be less likely to believe that the defendants were responsible. [for the violence at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally] and inclined to believe the defendants’ allegations [violence used in] self defense.”

When asked why he had described antifa as “troublemakers,” a potential juror said, “Everything I hear about antifa is what I hear on TV. It seems like they are always involved in racial riots and cause a lot of problems with their political beliefs,” he said.

Another aspiring judge, if Vices Tess Owen reported on Twitter, described Antifa as domestic terrorists in its questionnaire. “I just saw what I know on television and the Internet,” he wrote. He added that he does not see anti-Semitism as a serious problem. “I just don’t believe we have this problem today… where I live it doesn’t seem to be a problem.”

While some of these jurors were removed, Judge Moon has rejected the plaintiffs’ request to punch the juror who described antifa as a “terrorist organization.” He was equally reluctant to hit jurors who had a more neutral opinion.

White nationalist organizer Richard Spencer was part of the violence at Unite the Right.

A juror who wrote that antifa “fights the far-right movement” was attacked by defendants Richard Spencer and Chris Cantwell, who claimed this was “not a balanced perception of antifa” and “leaned to their side”. However, Moon said he felt the judge was qualified.

Another aspiring juror, numbered 220, was questioned about his politics for joining Daily Kos. is reading. Unicorn Riot reported on Twitter that Cantwell and Spencer heavily questioned this juror.

Cantwell asked the judge where he placed Daily Kos on the political spectrum, and he replied, “I don’t think it’s as far left as antifa.” He was also questioned about listening to Thom Hartmann’s radio program.

Cantwell then asked Moon to punch the juror, saying he has “extreme views on antifa”. He cited the oft-repeated myth of the smear campaign that blamed Antifa for “burning and looting in the second half of 2020” — which both statistics and studies of law enforcement reports definitively show that this was not the case.

“He has an extremely favorable view of a group that hunts the suspects like dogs in the streets,” Cantwell lamented. Another attorney told Moon that the juror “went through identifying himself as an antifa.”

Spencer filled in, saying that “the idea of ​​him being a Daily Kos reader and watching the Thom Hartmann program and never having heard of Richard Spencer is unbelievable.” He added: “I think he’s lying to be on the jury.”

Unconvinced, Moon told the defendants that he thought the juror could “set prejudices and try the case based on the law and the evidence. I don’t think he’s disqualified.”

This won’t be the first trial in which jurors’ prejudices about antifa appear to play a role. In the 2019 trial of an alt-right couple who shot an anti-fascist during a January 2017 protest in Seattle, the jury was deadlocked over three members who believed the victim was coming:

Finally, on Tuesday, August 13, five weeks after the trial began, a mistrial was declared when it became clear that, despite the majority voting otherwise, three jurors would never get around to finding the Hokoanas guilty of shooting an anti-fascist. Nine of them voted to convict Elizabeth, and seven were convinced Marc’s guilt, but the three stragglers—all of whom were apparently Trump-loving Republicans—couldn’t be moved.

“The jury was biased,” said the foreman, a man named Luke . The Seattle Times. He said during the deliberations he requested a replay for the entire jury of an informational video about bringing bias into the jury rooms, but “it did nothing” for a small handful of jurors who “sympathized and held similar views ” as that of the Hokoanas.

… One of the judges approached [chief prosecutor] Raam Wong then tried to set the record straight. She told him that the jury’s deliberations were tainted from the start by the three Trumpites, led by a particularly belligerent man: “I think from the very first moment he just sank his heels and said there was no way in the hell.” I’m going to ruin this woman’s life because of an antifa leader he thought was human waste and probably deserved to be shot.

There is an irony in the spread of this attitude among potential Charlottesville jurors. After all, most people hadn’t even heard of antifa prior to the violence at the Unite the Right riots. It was in the wake of those events that what was primarily a fringe conspiracy theory about a communist plot to impeach Donald Trump became a mainstream right-wing media standard. Multiple stories on Fox and in right-wing outlets began to demonize the anti-fascist movement, apparently intent on quieting the growing chorus of concern over the rise of white nationalist violence that Charlottesville represented.

This essentially created not just a “bothsiderist” story that was easily adopted by other mainstream outlets, but an elimination story that portrayed antifa as being so demonic in nature that they didn’t deserve freedom of speech or rights of protest, and in the end they just deserved to are discarded. helicopters (as the Proud Boys and other far-right villains would like). This story was used by Trump’s henchmen at the Department of Homeland Security to try and blame antifa for the violence in Portland in the summer of 2020, which turned into an incompetent mess of an investigation, but Trump still has an excuse gave to deploy an army of DHS contractors on the city streets.

'Citizens checkpoint' near Corbett, Oregon
Assuming that “antifa arsonists” were setting wildfires on the West Coast in the summer of 2020, men like these set up ad hoc checkpoints in rural areas of Oregon.

The same false story, relentlessly reinforced by far-right actors on social media, also inspired a spate of “antifa bus” hoaxes that last summer inspired hordes of heavily armed “patriots” to swarm the streets of several small towns across the country. When wildfires started burning the West Coast, the same disinformation artists convinced their audiences that “antifa arsonists” were lighting the fires, inciting clusters of right-wing thugs to set up paramilitary checkpoints in the countryside.

This attitude, based almost entirely on right-wing misinformation, is clearly widespread from Seattle to Charlottesville and all points in between. Just this week, the judge in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse — the teen who shot three protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer — informed lawyers in the case that they couldn’t describe the three men as “victims,” ​​but would allow defense. lawyers to describe them as “looters”, “rioters” or “arsonists”, although none of the three were ever charged with those crimes. In other words, the judge has given Rittenhouse’s lawyers the green light to bring the victims to justice.

The underlying attitude at work here — namely that anti-fascists are evil incarnate, fit only for elimination — seems to have permeated the American justice system on multiple levels. One can only hope that the jury in Charlottesville can turn the tide.





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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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