A Republican state representative circulated a pair of images on social media over the weekend of an alleged antifa recruitment flyer that does not appear to be genuine.
“Apparently, this flyer was found outside the CO Capitol during the ‘peaceful’ protests,” wrote Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, on Saturday. He attached two images of a flyer that called Republicans “sub-human troglidytes [sic]” and alleged that the party “created slavery 400 years ago,” as well as “started all 3 [sic] World Wars” and “colluded with Hitler and the Nazis.”
The flyer explicitly encouraged the killing of Republicans and the destruction of their homes.
“Obviously, this is unacceptable to say the least,” Williams continued. “Encouraging violence & calling for the murder of Republicans is disgusting.”
Last week, Colorado Politics reported that a different image of the flyer first appeared on a California-based conservative Facebook page. The page alleged that the supposed recruitment literature was found on June 1 at the racial justice protest in Denver. Upon questioning, the manager of the page indicated that they neglected to verify whether the flyer was genuine, and subsequently labeled the image as “unsubstantiated.”
“Antifa,” which is an abbreviation of “anti-fascist,” is a militant ideology of the political left that dates to the 1920s. Although antifa's tactics in opposing the far right can include violence, it is more common for adherents to focus on exposing white supremacists publicly.
“Antifa is not a specific organization. Maybe you could call it a movement, but it's really more an orientation,” George Ciccariello-Maher, a visiting scholar at the College of William & Mary, told KQED in 2017. Ciccariello-Maher, who studies radical social movements, was one of multiple people familiar with the political far left who immediately dismissed the flyer as phony.
“This is absolutely, 100% fake. It has nothing to do with anti-fascism and the language is so bizarre as to not even make any sense,” he said on Sunday. “It's disappointing and frankly depressing that a state rep would be foolish enough to share this provocation.”
The Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, who describe their mission as “exposing fascists and disrupting their organizing in Southern Colorado,” pointed to a telltale line in the flyer proclaiming that “our real president Hillary is forced into exile.”
“Most active anti-fascist activists are not fans of the democratic party, Hillary Clinton, or law enforcement,” the group wrote. They also pointed to the use of a slur for gay people printed at the bottom of the flyer as being diametrically opposed to leftist ideology.
“Anti-fascists are also very anti-homophobic, and anyone putting out flyers with f-slurs on them like this one did would be excommunicated in a heart beat,” they said.
As of Monday morning, Williams’s post had been shared approximately 250 times on Facebook and retweeted more than 4,200 times on Twitter. Williams responded in an email that a volunteer cleaning up the capitol grounds over the weekend had sent him the image.
Williams, whom the El Paso County GOP chair named as Trump director, also grabbed the attention of the Trump campaign with his tweet.
“.@GovofCO@jaredpolis@COAttnyGeneral are you aware of this? Denouncing this? Investigation? Security? Arrests?” wrote Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser for the Trump campaign.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Phil Weiser did not comment about the authenticity of the flyer or its contents. Gov. Jared Polis’ office did not immediately have a response.
Vickie Tonkins, the chair of the El Paso County Republican Party, said on Sunday that no one but Williams had shared the flyer to her knowledge.
“Can I say it can be verified,” she asked. “Not sure!”
The flyer contained no information about its authorship. It listed several organizations that allegedly endorsed its message, including the Colorado Education Association, “Antifa Colorado” — which has no online presence, if the organization does exist — and the Colorado Democratic Party.
“LOL,” wrote David Pourshoushtari, a spokesperson for the party. “No. The state representative should be spending more time actually doing his job rather than tweeting out falsehoods.”
The document also claimed that the County Sheriffs of Colorado “personally assured Antifa Colorado” that they would shield people “caught killing Republicans.” The sheriffs association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Curiously, the flyer both purported to be from “Antifa Colorado” as well as named the fictitious entity as its endorser. The flyer, if truly fake, would be another instance of incendiary material distributed by an antifa impersonator.
The BBC reported shortly after the August 2017 slaying of a woman during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that far-right sympathizers were using doctored images to promote violence against women while posing as “antifa.” Last week, Twitter suspended an account that called for followers to “move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours,” writing under the username @ANTIFA_US. The company disclosed that a far-right group was responsible for the account.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with Rep. Dave Williams's response.
Welcome to the discussion.
Post a comment as Guest
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.