Reported By: Nate Madden | April 20, 2017
In a twist of delicious irony, a law originally enacted to deal with the Ku Klux Klan led to the unmasking of several Antifa thugs on the streets of Auburn, Alabama, Tuesday.
According to a story at Twitchy, local police told people protesting a speech by Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer at Auburn University — which was court-ordered to host him — to take off their hallmark masks.
From video shot outside the venue, it appeared as though the police were enforcing the rules, which included a no-mask policy. That meant the members of the [A]ntifa, or anti-fascists, were made to uncover their faces as they marched past law enforcement toward the campus.
As the story notes, the responses to the unmasking on social media included tweets lauding the Auburn Police Department for enforcing the law while criticizing local cops in Berkeley, California, where lax law enforcement has been blamed for riots over the weekend. Spencer’s views are despicable, but the way a free society deals with bad ideas is to drown them out with better ones, not engage in domestic terrorism. Someone needs to pass that memo along.
As my colleague Chris Pandolfo pointed out in the wake of the past weekend’s riots in Berkeley, Antifa’s name, which is a truncation of “anti-fascism,” really ought not to be taken at face value.
“‘Antifa’ is made up of self-described anarchists — radical left-wing thugs who employ violence and intimidation to advance their beliefs,” he writes. “They’ve shown up previously at Berkeley to shut down a “free speech” event hosted by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, leaving damaged property, fires, and assault victims in their wake.”
In short, Antifa has no problem shutting down political demonstrations with brute force and intimidation tactics for their socio-political ends [read: terrorism], and they typically wear masks to do it. Covering one’s face to commit acts of political violence is not limited to Antifa thugs. It’s also a favorite tactic of groups like ISIS and other Islamist terror cells, as well as another U.S.-based, Democrat-sympathetic domestic terrorist organization: The Ku Klux Klan.
What many may not know, however, is that the current law forcing the Antifa demonstrators to remove their facial coverings finds its roots in a decades-old provision originally passed to take on the robe-clad hate group.
Title 13 of the Alabama State Code prohibits masked people from congregating in public places without facing criminal charges. If you want to publicly gather in the Yellowhammer State, you can either take your mask off, move along, or leave in cuffs. This, along with a provision the court order was what was being enforced, a spokesman for the Auburn Police Department confirms via email.
While several states now have laws prohibiting the covering one’s face in public, these laws in the deep south herald back to mid-20th century efforts to keep white supremacists from going about incognito to terrorize and intimidating law-abiding citizens.
The history of Alabama’s anti-masking law go back to Governor Jim Folsom — a noted opponent of the KKK — who in 1949 signed a law making wearing a mask a misdemeanor, punishable, back then, by a $500 fine and a year in jail, according to Time Magazine archives. The law was the first of its kind passed in the Deep South since Reconstruction.
The current version of the law was passed in 1977.
Furthermore, in “Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan”, historian David Mark Chalmers notes that Folsom also ordered the arrest of anyone who similarly covered their license plates, saying “mobs, hooded or unhooded, are not going to rule Alabama.” Nor would they at Auburn. Georgia also has a similar statute, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1990, after it faced a legal challenge from the KKK on First Amendment grounds.