The bill was introduced in June and has received an enthusiastic push
A new bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives named the “Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018” will make “committing certain offenses while in disguise” a criminal offense.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that joining Antifa had been made illegal but this is incorrect. The bill was proposed but never made law and the measure was aimed at cracking down on the aggressive activities associated with the group Antifa, but not joining it. A previous version also stated that members of the group were “paid $2,000 a week and promised free health insurance” but this too was inaccurate and has been removed. Since this article was originally published, the bill in question expired at the end of the 115th Congress and has not been reintroduced. Its sponsor, New York Rep. Dan Donovan, lost reelection in 2018.
The bill is now being proposed by Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
The bill was introduced in June and has received an enthusiastic push from conservative commentator Mike Cernovich who retweeted Mic reporter Jack Smith IV on Tuesday.
According to EpochTimes: They called on people to contact their representatives to vote for the bill.
A number of local Antifa groups, including the Rose City Antifa, posted their disdain about the proposal on social media.
Under the act, anyone wearing a mask who injures, threatens, intimidates, or oppresses people “in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege” will be imprisoned for up to 15 years.
The bill’s name makes reference to Antifa, the far-left extremist group that frequently advocates using violence and sparks riots to block conservative speakers and events.
Antifa often uses black masks and are clad in all black.
The bill reads:
“Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, while in disguise, including while wearing a mask, injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.”
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) July 11, 2018
Earlier this month, Portland Police declared a riot after Antifa and right-wing groups clashed, injuring four people.
The Portland Police Department said that one police officer was injured with non-serious injuries.
The Southern Poverty Law Center in a 1999 article noted that some states have “anti-masking” laws that make it a crime to wear a mask in public.
Most of those laws were passed between the 1920s and the 1950s due to violence from the Ku Klux Klan.
“Public officials argued that the laws were needed to protect the public from Klan intimidation and violence and that banning masks would aid law enforcement in identifying criminals,” the SPLC said.