This is the background to why I oppose the current Antifa tactics. It plays right into their hands, weakens the moral stance of the left’s arguments against them (“They’re violent!” “Well, you are too!”), and undermines the principle of the state holding the monopoly on violence in service of law. Argue with fascists all day long. When it comes time to suppress their violence, let the state do it. Otherwise, you’re just another gang on the streets to be suppressed yourselves.
And antifa — organized or not — does not seem to think optics will strengthen or weaken their argument and gain or lose sympathy from the American people. I mean, really? Black on-black-on-red-on-black, helmets and shields and clubs and mace, with hammer-and-sickle iconography? It’s like someone flying the skull-and-crossbones and insisting they aren’t a pirate.