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Antifa to be designated as terrorist organization, Trump says

George Floyd death: Crowd rushes toward Global News reporter live on air in Washington
George Floyd death: Crowd rushes toward Global News reporter live on air in Washington

The United States will be designating left-wing militant movement Antifa as a terrorist organization, President Donald Trump announced.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter Sunday following tweets that accused the movement of perpetrating violence during protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.

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“Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night,” Trump wrote.

George Floyd death: Trump comments on widespread protests around the U.S.
George Floyd death: Trump comments on widespread protests around the U.S.

READ MORE: ‘They keep killing our people’: Demonstrations held across U.S. after death of George Floyd

“The ANTIFA led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly. Should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!”

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The president’s announcement comes amid a surge in violence across American cities on Saturday night.

Several of the protests, which initially started out peaceful, have erupted into clashes that have injured many and left both police property and private businesses destroyed.

A handful of states have since mobilized their national guards in an attempt to quell the violence.

U.S. government officials have since pointed the finger at a flood of “outsiders” as being the source of some of the widespread rioting.

George Floyd death: Looting, fires mark fourth day of protests in Los Angeles
George Floyd death: Looting, fires mark fourth day of protests in Los Angeles

Those officials, however have been differing in their assessment of who to blame —  accusing either left-wing extremists or far-right white nationalists of being the source of the violence.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told reporters on Saturday, citing unconfirmed reports that white supremacists were coming from outside to take advantage of the chaos.

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John Harrington, the state’s commissioner of public safety, also said there were reports of white supremacists.

READ MORE: National Guard on patrol in Los Angeles after night of George Floyd protests

“But I cannot say that we have confirmed observations of local law enforcement to say that we’ve seen cells of white supremacists in the area,” said Harrington on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Federal officials on the other hand have pointed at far-left extremist organizations, with Trump alleging the that the violence was being led by “Antifa and other radical groups.”

Antifa, which is short for anti-fascists, comprises several activist groups in the United States that have been known to use direct action or physical violence to resist white supremacists or neo-Nazis at demonstrations.

Many were also quick to point out that the United States could only classify foreign entities as terrorist organizations.

Minneapolis braces for more unrest after Floyd killing
Minneapolis braces for more unrest after Floyd killing

The U.S. does not yet have a domestic terrorism law — meaning that there is no legal mechanism in place for Trump to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

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White supremacist groups operating in the U.S., such as the KKK, have not been designated as terrorist organizations.

In a statement Sunday addressing both Floyd’s death and the resulting riots, U.S. Attorney General William Barr accused “violent radical elements” of hijacking the peaceful protests, specifically naming Antifa.

“Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” read the statement.

Riots break out in U.S. cities amid George Floyd protests
Riots break out in U.S. cities amid George Floyd protests

“In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from out of state to promote the violence.”

“In that regard, it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting.  We will enforce these laws.”

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— With files from The Associated Press