Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Monday dismissed his son’s overt declaration of support for the so-called anti-fascist group Antifa, brushing it off as a “comment about the absurdity of the president’s comment more than anything else.”
Administration leaders have pointed out that many of the violent riots dominating U.S. cities have embraced Antifa-like tactics, sowing civil discord by attacking officers, looting businesses, and setting structures on fire.
Ellison’s son, a Minneapolis city council member, on Sunday professed support for Antifa on social media, as violence and destruction continued to rattle U.S. cities:
I hereby declare, officially, my support for ANTIFA
Unless someone can prove to me ANTIFA is behind the burning of black and immigrant owned businesses in my ward, I’ll keep focusing on stopping the white power terrorist THE ARE ACTUALLY ATTACKING US! https://t.co/m6jxtDYmTi
— Jeremiah Ellison (@jeremiah4north) May 31, 2020
The elder Ellison brushed off his son’s declaration, telling CNN that it was “a comment about the absurdity of the president’s comment more than anything else.”
“We don’t see what the president’s talking about,” Ellison said following days of vandalism, looting, and violence across the country. “I don’t think the president sees what he’s talking about.”
The Minnesota attorney general said he has not seen “any evidence” of violence being perpetrated by Antifa but added that we need to “investigate these suspicious characters who have been seen breaking property and committing acts of arson.”
He clarified that he has seen evidence of people committing the lawless acts, but he does not have “evidence as to where they’re from or what their ideology may be.”
“I’m not trying to get into anything. I’m not going to be distracted or deterred from justice for George Floyd. I will say there are more productive and helpful things for the administration to be doing than putting out those kind of distracting tweets,” he added:
MN AG Keith Ellison responds to son's Antifa statement: "That was a comment about the absurdity of the President's comment more than anything else." pic.twitter.com/B72YCULcII
— The Hill (@thehill) June 1, 2020
Ellison’s dismissal of his son’s strong support for Antifa does not come as a surprise, as Ellison openly expressed support for the radical group in 2018.
“At @MoonPalaceBooks and I just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump,” Ellison wrote in a now-deleted tweet alongside a photo of himself holding the book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook:
This needs to be shared far and wide. This is our very own #MN Attorney General, @keithellison @AGEllison proudly promoting a group that is now destroying our state. This #MNDFL POS needs to be driven from office and driven from the state of #Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/HcjeYRTWpk
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) May 30, 2020
“Unfortunately with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” William Barr said at a Department of Justice press conference on Saturday.
“Groups of outside radical agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” he continued.
The following day — the same day President Trump announced that the U.S. will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization — Barr designated violence “instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting” as domestic terrorism and said such actions would be “treated accordingly.”