There are two interesting strains of thought that seem to uneasily coexist in the liberal sphere of debate regarding antifa groups.
a) “Antifa” is a contraction of “anti-fascist.” These groups may be aggressive in their tactics, but they’re targeting fascists. If you’re anti-anti-fascist, well — what does that make you?
b) Also, “antifa” doesn’t really exist. It’s just a bogeyman the Republicans like to bring out when they want to delegitimize protesters. Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York became the most famous proponent of this theory during debate on a House police reform bill last month, in which he said amendments being offered by the GOP were “errant nonsense, off-topic, dealing with imaginary things like antifa and completely negating the entire purpose of the bill.” Even if it may kind of exist, it’s conservatism’s version of razors in candy apples on Halloween or satanic ritual abuse: a moral panic over nothing.
Neither of these is particularly convincing on their own, it should be pointed out, and they cancel each other out. Either antifa exists and it’s merely fighting the good fight against fascists, or antifa violence doesn’t really exist and Republicans just need a foil. Both can’t be true.
Both, however, can be untrue. If the allegations against Blake David Hampe are accurate, he could be the object lesson in this department.
According to The Washington Times, Hampe, 43, is accused of stabbing Trump supporter and videographer Drew Duncomb during one of the nightly fracases in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.
A news release from the Portland Police Bureau said Hampe was arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning outside the city’s federal courthouse, which has been the locus for much of the more, um, enthusiastic protesting these past few weeks.
“For several hours a large crowd participated in criminal activity, which included throwing projectiles, lighting fires, and vandalism focused at government facilities and employees,” the news release said. “Members of this large group had moved away from the mass, and a conflict ensued, provoking the need for emergency responders.
“Police arrived and found one male suspect held down by several bystanders and one male victim with a stab wound. Police attempted to create a crime scene but were unable to due to the aggressive crowd behavior and lack of community cooperation. The victim was transported to an area hospital with a serious injury, and the suspect was arrested.”
Andy Ngô and Ian Miles Cheong — both of whom have been chronicling the continued violence in Portland — shared video of what was purported to be Hampe’s arrest.
This Antifa guy stabbed someone in Portland earlier this morning, prompting a police response and his arrest. pic.twitter.com/b0UBqnXJaX
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 25, 2020
More chaos in the streets of downtown Portland at the riot. Some person is dragged away. pic.twitter.com/zzgGNSjfUP
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 25, 2020
Hampe was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center and was held on $250,000 bond. According to the Washington Examiner, the 43-year-old has, at the very least, the same name as a New Hampshire man convicted of child pornography. He’s now charged with felony assault.
Blake David Hampe, a 43-year-old w/a child porn conviction, was arrested at the #antifa riot overnight in Portland and charged with felony assault. He’s accused of stabbing black conservative @SpaceForceUSA_. He was beaten by a crowd & dragged to police. https://t.co/Itp99vf7ef pic.twitter.com/lHbxzxTdt6
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 25, 2020
The victim, Duncomb — better known by his nom de Twitter “Black Rebel” — tweeted about the stabbing from his hospital bed. He said he was released on Sunday.
I got stabbed in Portland by antifa on my way to hospital https://t.co/H745d2next
— Black Rebel (Stabbed By Antifa Pedophile) (@SpaceForceUSA_) July 25, 2020
(Update 7/25/20) Still in the hospital after being stabbed in the lower back flank by an antifa pedophile.
For all those asking how they can help support. Check out link below.https://t.co/d6o8FR2bgW https://t.co/Avl1fkwbhh
— Black Rebel (Stabbed By Antifa Pedophile) (@SpaceForceUSA_) July 26, 2020
Made it back to my hotel. I am really sore. The blade severed through some of my oblique muscle in my lower back through two layers. It may take several weeks to fully recover.
— Black Rebel (Stabbed By Antifa Pedophile) (@SpaceForceUSA_) July 27, 2020
It’s unclear whether Hampe was part of an antifa group, although Duncomb said he is and Ngô — generally a reliable source on these matters — has said the demonstration at which the stabbing occurred was connected to antifa.
And let’s be clear: Antifa is involved in the ongoing unrest in Portland, which has seen prolonged rioting from individuals who seem concerned not so much with social justice as they are with conflict.
On July 19, The New York Times published a piece about the protests in Portland: “From Antifa to Mothers in Helmets, Diverse Elements Fuel Portland Protests.”
In the piece, The Times noted that among the protesters were “some who identify as antifa, the loose coalition of self-described anti-fascist activists” who “have had years of conflict with law enforcement.”
While the protesting dilettantes have mostly filed away, however, a hardcore group of individuals remains, most of whom seem oddly fixated on figuring out how to breach a fence at the federal courthouse so that they can — well, this isn’t entirely clear, given that the courthouse is guarded by federal agents who are somewhat better prepared to handle any showdown that might occur.
Furthermore, in the constellation of loosely affiliated antifa groups, Rose City Antifa is considered one of brightest stars. In 2017, USA Today said it was the oldest antifa group in the nation — and it’s certainly been one of the most active, given the fact it has engaged in numerous battles with far-right groups that have been, on most occasions, only loosely officiated by the police.
However, nothing has come out yet to definitively tie Hampe to an antifa group — or really, to give him any sort of motive. He’s merely a white man at a violent protest that was allegedly antifa-driven who stabbed a black Trump supporter.
Are we to assume he did this because Duncomb was too far to the left for him? That this was a white nationalist who couldn’t stand to see a black conservative out at a leftist protest?
We don’t know the details of why Blake David Hampe allegedly stabbed Drew Duncomb.
We can, given the limited set of parameters we have, make some basic assumptions about the sequence of events that happened — and why the end result isn’t being covered even though, under normal circumstances, a white man stabbing a black man at a violent political protest with potential antifa involvement would be front-page news.
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