Physically Confronting Antifa
Physically Confronting Antifa: Texas Crimes and Consequences
By: Jason L. Van Dyke, Esq.
On May 24, 2017, we learned that university professor Eric Clanton was arrested on charges of aggravated assault stemming from his involvement with Antifa thugs in the “Second Battle of Berkeley” that took place on April 15, 2017. The charges are the rough equivalent to an aggravated assault in Texas, and specifically, Clanton is alleged to have beaten three pro-Trump demonstrators with a bike lock. His bond was set at $200,000.00 (although a reduction is likely once he lawyers up) and he faces substantial prison time. With this in mind, it’s appropriate to consider the extent to which Texas law permits us to use force in response to typical Antifa hijinks: instances where force, but not deadly force, are permissible under the law.
In the context of defensive actions against Antifa (or anyone else for that matter), Texas law provides that an actor (such as a Proud Boy) is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of force. In the context of the demonstrations at which Antifa are typically encountered, it should further be noted that a person is justified in using force against another to protect a third person when and to the degree that he believes his intervention is immediately necessary to protect that third person from another’s unlawful use of force. The use of force is not justified when it is used: (a) in response to verbal provocation by itself; (b) to resist a search by a peace officer (even if that search is unlawful); of (c) if the actor “provoked” the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. I should certainly point out that engaging in civilized public discourse in a manner protected by the First Amendment would not constitute a “provocation” sufficient to negate a claim of self-defense. As a general rule, such a provocation would need to be unlawful in and of itself.
What does this mean for The Proud Boys? First and foremost, it means that the law only permits us to use force when it is immediately necessary for us to protect ourselves or another person. When Antifa snowflakes use items such as sticks, bottles, M80s, chemical irritants, and other items for the purpose of disrupting a lawful display of free speech, it is legally permissible to respond with force that is reasonably necessary under the circumstances to stop, control, and neutralize the threat. The question I tell my clients to ask themselves is this: Will you be able to justify this conduct to a group of people too dumb to get out of jury duty? I don’t say this out of disrespect for the jury system, but rather, as an expression of the reality that highly educated persons are more likely to be excused from jury service than those who are not. With that having been said, it is probably permissible to wrestle a weapon out of the hands of a snowflake. Intervening in situations where a group of thugs are kicking someone while he is down is probably fine as well. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t give us leeway to chase down the fleeing snowflake that just knocked our brother’s tooth out and go full Connor McGregor on him (or her, since we aren’t supposed to assume the gender of these losers). In a world where incidents like this are more likely than not to be caught on videotape, it is not uncommon for a prosecuting attorney to use those tapes to show a jury precisely when a person stopped defending himself and became the aggressor.
There are, naturally, a number of other laws that Proud Boys need to be mindful of when defending themselves against Antifa. The most common offense for which one could expect to be cited is disorderly conduct. This offense is committed when, in a public place, a person intentionally or knowingly: (a) uses abusive, profane, of vulgar language that, by its very utterance, tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace; (b) abuses or threatens a person in an obviously offensive manner; or (c) fights with another. Although this offense is punishable by a fine only, it will still typically result in a custodial arrest and trip to jail. A conviction (or even a deferred adjudication) under this statute will also result in the loss or denial of a license to carry a handgun, so it’s unwise to look as disorderly conduct as “just a ticket.” Nevertheless, it is important to note that self-defense can be successfully asserted as a defense in a disorderly conduct case just as it can in an assault case. Furthermore, the law does not permit disorderly conduct citations to be used as a conduit for restricting lawful expressions of free speech. This means that, so long as nobody is beating anybody up, both Proud Boys and Antifa can demonstrate in a lawful manner without being cited for disorderly conduct.
This article has been intended to educate about some basic caveats to keep in mind when standing up for the West and free speech at public demonstrations. There are, however, some important things to keep in mind. First and foremost, an aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon or one that results in serious bodily injury. While the offenses discussed in the article are misdemeanors, aggravated assault is a second degree felony punishable by 2 – 20 years in prison and an optional fine of $10,000.00. It is not uncommon for a person to be charged with aggravated assault in an indictment alleging that the person’s hands and feet were used as a deadly weapon. Do not pursue those who are retreating and certainly avoid physical contact with anyone that is not an immediate threat. Second, if a police officer gives you an order, obey it. The middle of a protest (which can quickly grow out of control) is neither the time nor the place to challenge the authority of an officer or the legality of an order. Doing so could lead to charges such as riot or interfering with public duty. If you are arrested, it is of the utmost importance to co-operate physically with the arrest. That is where your cooperation should end. Once arrested, your only words to any officer should be “I want to speak with my lawyer”.
I will conclude this article by stating that I absolutely despise the notion of any type of retreat in the face of Antifa. The notion of retreat in the face of the enemy, even at the request of an officer, absolutely turns my stomach. Nevertheless, the middle of a demonstration that snowflakes have turned into a riot is neither the time nor the place to challenge the authority of a peace officer ordering you to disperse. Mistreatment by law enforcement is why police departments have an internal affairs divisions and why we have courts of law. The average street cop is more likely to agree with us than anti-cop Antifa thugs, which is why it is of the utmost importance for us to air any grievances we may have at the appropriate time and place. Proud Boys should stand their ground. They should also take the high ground and not become the thugs that we despise. Uhuru!