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A white supremacist group linked to deadly right-wing violence in Charlottesville in 2017 used a fake Twitter account to pose as “Antifa” and incite violence during the current wave of protests against police brutality.
Twitter announced Monday that it had suspended the account, which claimed to belong to a national “Antifa” organization, and revealed that the account was created by Identity Evropa.
“This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts," Twitter said in a statement to the media. “We took action after the account sent a Tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules.”
The account — @ANTIFA_US — tried to escalate an already turbulent situation when it posted a message inciting violence on Sunday night, as protesters were clashing with police in dozens of cities across the U.S.
“Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” the message said, alongside a brown raised fist emoji. “Tonight we say 'Fuck The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours …”
The message was posted just hours after President Donald Trump and his administration blamed the protests on “Antifa,” a label applied to a loose collective of far-left anti-fascist groups and activists. The administration provided no evidence to back up its claim.
Trump declared on Saturday that he would designate “Antifa” a terrorist group, even though there is no domestic terror statute, meaning it’s not currently possible to take this action.
Identity Evropa was founded in March 2016 but is best known for its part in organizing the Charlotteville rally in August 2017. According to the Anti-Defamation League, it mostly disbanded in 2019, though much of its leadership regrouped into a new organization called the American Identitarian Movement (AIM).
Identity Evropa’s former leaders are currently being sued by nonprofit group Integrity First for America, for their part in the violence that erupted during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the murder of 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer.
Twitter’s quick action to suspend the fake account follows the social network’s decision last week to censor Trump’s tweets. While Twitter has moved more aggressively to combat incendiary and fake posts on its site, Facebook has faced a backlash for failing to follow suit. On Monday its employees staged a virtual walkout to highlight their anger at Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to remove or flag a post in which Trump promoted violence against protesters.
Cover: Several thousand demonstrators gather in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)