A man wearing a swastika armband was punched to the ground in downtown Seattle, after activists spread his photo across Twitter. The incident was caught on camera and uploaded online on Sunday.
The Seattle Police Department said they received reports of a man wearing a swastika armband and “instigating fights” late Sunday afternoon. When officers arrived on the scene, however, they found him on the ground. The man removed his armband and left without telling police what had happened.
Hours before, an anti-fascist Twitter account had shared a photo of a man riding the bus in Seattle with a Nazi armband on his right arm.
“Nazi s***head on D line headed to downtown #Seattle. Submitter said they were harassing a black man on the bus,” the account wrote, indicating that the photo had been submitted by a third party.
The photo spread quickly around anti-fascist social media accounts. Anti-fascists, or “Antifa,” as some of them are called, are a loosely organised group of activists who seek to fight racism, sexism, and other oppressive forces.
The original tweet was re-tweeted almost 60 times, and the photo was also shared on Reddit.
Shortly after it was posted, Seattle residents began to tweet out reports of a man matching the photo at a specific downtown intersection. According to Twitter reports, the man was “yelling at passerby” and “spewing racist vitriol”.
Less than an hour later, video emerged of a man with a swastika armband being punched by another man in a grey sweatshirt. In the video, the man falls to the ground and remains motionless as the man in the sweatshirt walks away.
“Night night,” the videographer says.
Seattle Police said no one at the scene contacted officers to report the incident.
While some Antifa Twitter accounts celebrated the incident, it is unclear whether the assailant in the video is anti-fascist-affiliated.
The Antifa are known to occasionally use violence when confronting neo-Nazi and other white supremacist groups. The practise gained mainstream attention last year, when self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer was punched on the street.
According to Antifa activists, however, the bulk of their work consists of researching and publicly identifying members of far-right movements – just as activists did in Seattle this weekend.
“Through research we can identify their leadership, their resources, their level of influence, and how best to deny them what they want,” an activist for the Atlanta Antifascists told The Independent last month.
“It's harder to recruit when they it obvious that this is what will happen to you if you join and take leadership roles," the activist added.