, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 229–236 | Cite as

On Public Protest, Violence, and Street Gangs

  • David C. PyroozEmail author
  • James A. Densley
Symposium: What Is Antifa?


This article elaborates upon the authors’ 2017 op-ed, “To deal with Antifa, designate it a street gang,” published in The Wall Street Journal. Following recent calls to declare Antifa, a loosely-organized collective of anti-fascists, a domestic terrorist organization, we argue for the categorization of the group as a street gang instead. We advocate for better understanding of groups and group processes and review existing gang definitions, specifically the California penal code and the consensus Eurogang definition. We find that groups within antifa meet gang criteria because they have a collective identity and engage in illegal violent activity. Classification of antifa as a street gang is preferable to domestic terrorism, we argue, because it permits the deployment of evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies beyond the current emphasis on crowd control. This article thus contributes to a burgeoning literature that examines the overlap between gangs and other social groups, with implications for broader criminological research and practice.


Street gangs Antifa Social movements Violence Eurogang definition California Penal Code Section 186.22 



The authors would like to thank Scott Decker for comments on an earlier version of this essay. All errors, omissions, and conclusions found in this essay are solely those of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Institute of Behavioral Science, UCB 483University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.School of Law Enforcement and Criminal JusticeMetropolitan State UniversitySt. PaulUSA

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