The 26-page Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA), dated October 2020, does describe the problem of violent protests, though it emphasizes the threat posed by white supremacist groups and omits the word “Antifa.”
Domestic violent extremism is a threat to the Homeland. As Americans, we all have the right to believe whatever we want, but we don’t have a right to carry out acts of violence to further those beliefs. The Department works with other Government, non-Government, and private sector partners to prevent individuals from making this transition from protected speech to domestic terrorism reflected by violence. As Secretary, I am concerned about any form of violent extremism. That is why we design our programs to be threat agnostic – ensuring that we can combat a broad range of domestic threats. However, I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years. I am proud of our work to prevent terrorizing tactics by domestic terrorists and violent extremists who seek to force ideological change in the United States through violence, death, and destruction.
Exploitation of Lawful and Protected Speech and Protests. During the course of developing the HTA we began to see a new, alarming trend of exploitation of lawful protests causing violence, death, and destruction in American communities. This anti-government, anti-authority and anarchist violent extremism was identified by DHS in September 2019 when we published our Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence. As the date of publication of this HTA, we have seen over 100 days of violence and destruction in our cities. The co-opting of lawful protests led to destruction of government property and have turned deadly.
Indeed, DHS law enforcement officers suffered over 300 separate injuries and were assaulted with sledgehammers, commercial grade fireworks, rocks, metal pipes, improvised explosive devices, and more. This violence, perpetrated by anarchist extremists and detailed in numerous public statements that remain available on the DHS website, significantly threatens the Homeland by undermining officer and public safety— as well as our values and way of life. While the HTA touches on these issues, we are still in the nascent stages of understanding the threat this situation poses to Americans, the Homeland, and the American way of life.
Later, the document emphasizes the danger that foreign actors could exploit the ongoing unrest, and warns that violent extremists are “taking advantage of large protest crowds to conduct violence.”
The Washington Times observes: “Violent white supremacists killed 39 people in the U.S. between 2018 and 2019, making them responsible for more than 80% of all deaths attributed by DHS to domestic extremists during the span.”