PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Is Antifa a racket? U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz thinks so.
In a new letter, the prominent Texas Republican seeks a federal racketeering investigation into Portland’s anti-fascist movement — and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s “apparent sympathy” to the black-cloaked cadre.
“You are surely aware that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has staunchly refused to deploy and support local law enforcement to restore order and prevent Antifa robberies and armed assaults,” Cruz wrote in a Tuesday, July 23 letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
“It is no mystery why,” the three-page letter continues. “Antifa’s violence is aimed to silence dissent from authoritarian left-wing views. Mayor Wheeler apparently agrees with those views.”
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Racketeering charges, created by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, can take down entire criminal syndicates by grouping separate crimes together in one trial, with leaders on the hook for misdeeds they ordered underlings to carry out. Prosecutors, however, must show a pattern, proof of organization and an impact on interstate commerce.
Cruz, a runner-up for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, says Mayor Wheeler denied Oregonians their civil rights when he ordered local police not to patrol near an activist encampment surrounding a federal immigration facility last year.
Cruz also invoked the brain hemorrhage inflicted on live-streamer Andy Ngo during recent street clashes as an impetus to act, comparing Antifa with notorious groups like the Klu Klux Klan and the mafia.
Wheeler squabbled with Cruz on Twitter after the June 29 brawl drew national attention, denying that he ordered police to stand down at the protest and saying the investigation money could be better spent on “infrastructure, affordable housing [or] mental health services.”
Wheeler has gone mum on the matter since. A spokesman, Tim Becker, told the Tribune the mayor “has no comment on Senator Cruz’s new letter.”