The downtown L.A. rally is one of several taking place in 19 cities across the U.S. that are being organized by Refuse Fascism. Officials with the group say it has received threats of violence from alt-right, conservative and white supremacist groups ahead of the rallies. The campaign has gained the attention of far-right personalities like Alex Jones. The internet talk show host behind InfoWars is encouraging supporters to show up to these so-called “Antifa” protests, which his site describes as an “attempt to launch a civil war.”
While both groups attempt to paint the other as the aggressors, the Refuse Fascism protesters are not linked to Antifa, says Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California. “This situation really shows the dangers of fake news,” says Armour, who has been following the “ANTI-FAscist” movement. “The concern is where others come in and hijack your agenda.” Armour says the alt-right is spinning the Refuse Fascism demonstrations into a violent group they are not.