FBI did not say teacher is the most common occupation of antifa activists
CLAIM: “Teachers are the number one occupation of the antifa terrorist organization according to the FBI.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There is no evidence that teachers make up an outsized portion of antifa, a shorthand term for “anti-fascists.” The FBI told The Associated Press it “has not made any such statements about the occupations of people who are attracted to particular ideologies.”
THE FACTS: As early as November 2019, posts online have alleged that the FBI says the most common profession for an antifa activist to have is schoolteacher.
More recently, this claim has gone viral online, both as part of longer blog posts promoting conspiracy theories around COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd, and independently on Facebook and Twitter.
On Facebook alone, posts connecting teachers with antifa have been viewed more than a million times in the past week.
But the posts don’t reflect the way the FBI actually investigates criminal activity or people who identify as antifa, which has become an umbrella term for left-leaning militant groups that oppose neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.
While FBI director Christopher Wray recently told Fox News the agency is investigating various “violent anarchist extremists, some of whom self-identify or otherwise link to the antifa movement,” the agency does not initiate investigations solely based on an individual’s identity.
“Our focus is not on membership in particular groups but on individuals who commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security,” the FBI told the AP in a statement.
Accordingly, the FBI said it has not made any statements about the occupations of people who are drawn to particular ideologies, such as anti-fascism.
Though President Donald Trump has tweeted that the United States will designate antifa as a terrorist organization, it’s unclear how the government could do this, since antifa does not refer to a single centralized group.
Also, since antifa is a domestic movement and there is no domestic terrorism statute in U.S. law, it would not qualify for inclusion on the State Department’s foreign terror organizations list.
Reached via email on the matter, the American Federation of Teachers declined to comment.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536