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Facebook recently removed an advert for Donald Trump's re-election campaign that prominently featured an image of an inverted red triangle. Nazi Germany used an almost identical symbol to label communists and other political opponents, and the advert was thus deemed to contain a "hate symbol", in violation of Facebook's policies.

In response, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh claimed the symbol was used not for its Nazi connotations, but because the Antifa movement (which the advert strongly criticised) uses the symbol:

The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by antifa, so it was included in an ad about antifa.

I recognise that this may be a difficult question to answer, due to the nebulous nature of Antifa and the possibility of false flag accounts muddying the waters. However, I do believe it's possible that some Antifa members, aware of the symbol's historic meaning, have co-opted it.

Are there any documented instances of Antifa members using an inverted red triangle as an identifying symbol?

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    This would be great example "Need of proof lies on the claimant" because by Murtaugh logic Antifa also use yellow rhomboid with "slow" written iside or yellow square with exclamation mark. – SZCZERZO KŁY Jun 19 at 12:27
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    Of course, no one has really defined what an "Antifa member" is. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 19 at 12:34
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    Ironically, since the Trump campaign's position is that Antifa is a terrorist group, it seems to me that their use of the symbol would be against Facebook rules either way. – Harry Johnston Jun 20 at 2:34
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    @HarryJohnston Not according to the latest wording about their 'rules' (which they enforce quite arbitrarily): It's said that 'you may use a hate-symbol' in a context to say 'this is bad' and 'analyse/discuss it'. Just not without any of such context or 'this is great'… “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.” nytimes.com/2020/06/18/us/politics/… – LаngLаngС Jun 20 at 9:47
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    Notice that it's 'the group' that's banned, not the symbol as such. Facebook says: the group 'Nazi-Germany' is the hate-group and that it used that symbol to identfy prisoners' and that requires 'condemnig'. The real irony is that eg the VVN (victims of nazism, not 'a hate-goup') usage would fall foul of these 'rules' as formulated, most of the time, as they use their symbol without always 'discussing it'… – LаngLаngС Jun 20 at 9:53
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It can be found in that context. But it is surely not the most recognisable symbol for Antifa in the US.

The usual historical explanation first: 'Antifa' means primarily 'anti-fascist', a thing the US was proud to be, officially – not that long ago.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here
(src1 D-Day, src2 Operaion Bagration second source needed for accuracy. Click on smallest pictures throughout answer for larger versions.)

As the campaigner tried to explain on twitter with a more elaborate version of downward 'red triangle', it is found occasionally in an antifa-context:

enter image description here

Design details: Inverted red triangle, anti-fascist symbol, with the word ANTIFA Tags: social rights, anti racism, anti nazi, human rights, inverted red triangle, freedom, antifa, rights, justice, anti nazis, anti-fascist triangle, equality, anti racist, No Trump, antifascist, against right, against fascism, socialism, red triangle, anti-fascist movement, peace, communism, demonstration, social justice, movement

Spreadshirt: Posters "Antifa" by Jevaz archived.

Note that this vendor/designer claims to be from Spain and seems to also promote anti-fascism and feminism on his shirts. This would make uploading this just in response to allegations against the campaign quite an elaborate cover-up. But it's also claimed that the designer joined only two weeks ago, without further proof on dating this occurrence. This is said one may be online solely in response to these news. This uncertainty in the timeline would be the weakest point of this answer — and it is almost the weakest point of the response from the campaign as sole evidence for prior use.

The designer of this particular image is himself on Twitter and had this to say for dating the particularly 'quoted by campaign' design:

enter image description here Hi. It's a design I recently created to market on a print sales platform. The inverted red triangle that is creating so much controversy is an anti-fascist symbol that has its origin in the way concentration camp prisoners are marked.
2:36 am · 19 Jun 2020 [my emphasis, LLC]

Since Twitter is an unreliable platform, from his account:

Yesterday a Trump affiliated account used my #Antifa design with a red triangle inverted and I was accused of being in the service of Trump's campaign, nothing more far be it from my intention that to seem affiliated with Trump or to offend the #Antifa movement.

Today is a symbol used by many #antifascist groups and politicians although it seems that in the USA it is not yet very widespread.

But apparently the Spanish designer Jevaz used the red triangle design element in this context at least as early as May 21, promoting it on Twitter. (Design 'Feminista' with text: "I think therefore I'm anti-fascist"). And in fact the German version of this Spreadshirt store has customer reviews for this design and designer from as early as

12. Januar 2018 Sehr schönes Shirt mit tollem Motiv, fällt allerdings etwas zu eng aus, vor allem an den Ärmeln. Daher empfehle ich eine Größe mehr zu bestellen.

Although it is not the only use of that symbol anyway, most often 'documented prior art':

A shirt design matching the ad campaign would then be

enter image description here
CafePress: Red Triangle Gifts

But the actual product page seems to experience a few difficulties right now.

However, there are more of those, elsewhere, and definitely prior to the campaign:

enter image description here
Antifascist Red Triangles (antifa left symbol) Sticker Designed by reydefine

To claim like the campaign that this would be the symbol, or even a really common one – in the US – seems to not have been true. This changed obviously in a reverse-Streisand now.

In Europe, this is different. The red triangle as such was used in May First strikes in Paris in 1890 and has become a symbol of resistance to far right ideas, especially in Belgium. Like so:

enter image description here
Triangle rouge, Les Territoires de la Mémoire

It is also the logo of the Ras l'front network in France. (WP: Triangle rouge).

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

The description for that network then reads as follows:

The purpose of this organisation was to create and stimulate a "movement of resistance and vigilance" against "fascism". It was aimed at citizens, associations, trade unions and political parties in order to combat the National Front, its allies and parties considered to be defending the same ideas. This network wants to be independent, both politically and financially [ref. necessary]. It is composed of autonomous collectives, and thus acts locally. (WP)

Such symbol usage as used for an antifa conference in 2018 Amsterdam:

enter image description here

For the local antifa group in Utrecht, notice that all others seem to prefer different symbols, and the now often mentioned Vrije Bond (Free Union):

enter image description here enter image description here

Or another conference, in 2015 Munich:

enter image description here
– Antifant: Podiumsdiskussion zu Antifa und Organisierung 29. Oktober 2015

And perhaps the best known usage of this symbolism, if not the prior origin of using this symbol, again, before the Nazis used this for prisoners:

enter image description here
Lazar Markovich Lissitzky (El Lissitzky): "Клином красным бей белых!” ("Klinom krasnym bey belykh! — Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge"

This was then used as inspiration in 2017 after Charlottesville:

enter image description here
– Shama Rangwala: "Links in the Wake of Charlottesville"

In the UK Anti-Fascist Action seems to have used this, uploaded in 2016:

enter image description here
Badges that reads ” Anti Fascist Action”
As part of our office clear-out, volunteers found a huge cache of campaigning postcards and badges mainly from the 1980s and some even earlier.

Sometimes it's said on Twitter this would be an isolated occurrence that should not be used as evidence in this debate. Isolated, it is perhaps not so much, as the following image was uploaded under the name of 'Antifa-Keil' (Antifa wedge):

enter image description here
"Leo Trotzki über Faschismus", Der Funke, 25.01.2017

This wedge is even part of that paper's logo.

A book from 1980 uses the following cover:

enter image description here
— Wolfgang Abendroth, Walter Kreck, Reinhard Opitz & Max Oppenheimer: "Wie Faschismus entsteht - und verhindert wird. Materialien vom Antifaschistischen Kongreß Mannheim", Röderberg, 1980.

Also in London we could see this version of red triangle as used in 2015:

enter image description here
– Anti-Fascist Network: "Update on anti-fascist mobilisations this Saturday", 1.7.2015.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

That still doesn't make any triangle the most widely used and most recognisable symbol of/for 'Antifa'. That would look like a bit more in line of those found in this picture:

enter image description here
– Gregg Re: "Portland, Oregon, pulls out of FBI terrorism task force, following San Francisco's lead", Fox News, February 13, 2019.

Antifa isn't a closely organised single group. There is no central structure. As such the single groups may choose any branding for themselves they like best. 'Two flags', '3 arrows', perhaps a 'fist, smashing things', 'hammer and sickle', even a 'swastika, but struck out'. That makes describing any of these antifa groups via one symbol quite complicated.

enter image description here
— Eva Steibl: "Antifaschistischer Spaziergang", uploaded November 14, 2018.

The East-German Kommittee der Antifaschistischen Widerstandskämpfer used this:

enter image description hereenter image description here

enter image description here
Pin Triángulo Rojo - Condición Nuevo El triángulo rojo invertido fue el símbolo que el régimen nazi usó para marca a los presos comunistas. Su uso es un homenaje al antifascismo. Pin metálico de gran calidad, pensado para coleccionistas. Medidas: 1cm

The only antifa group that I know that clearly does use the 'inverted red triangle' as their symbol is the VVN Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes – Bund der Antifaschistinnen und Antifaschisten:
enter image description here enter image description here

We see a red triangle used by the communist antifascists before there was a nazi concentration camp. We see that triangle used by nazis on their political prisoners. We also see some smaller groups using these concentration camp triangles for their own purposes after the nazis, like exactly the same with 'gay rights' groups sometimes using the pink triangle. The biggest and most organised antifa group in Germany does use the red triangle, officially in strict perpendicular orientation and in remembrance of the nazi-use.

That means that technically, the Trump campaigners have a grain of truth to work with. That it evidently failed so spectacularly is precisely because in the US the red triangle is not as common as it is in Europe and when most people do not recognise the symbol.


Notabene: 'Antifa in the US' in the sense of 'Antifaschistische Aktion' from Germany or the later and much broader antifa movement are a lot of only broadly similar things, lumped together. It seems obvious that in the US 'antifa' as self-designation in that precise sequence of letters only applies to a more militant faction of 'the left'.
This is decidedly not the case in Europe. While probably a lot of those groups can also be counted towards 'militancy', many, like the French or Belgian examples, and the German VVN example are not. The VVN being a registered club proper with actual membership and for a long time a tax-exempt charity.
While the above example images are evidence for 'claim is true' for the very wide international field of 'antifas', in the wider emaing of antifascists, including the militant ones, I simply failed to locate a single example image that's clearly for 'claim is true for the antifa (US)' or 'antifascists in the US', just variations like that one against the Ku-Klux-Klan hood, which was not an emblem for any 'antifa' directly.


Commentary:
Murtaugh is apparently on record with: “But it is ironic that it took a Trump ad to force the media to implicitly concede that Antifa is a hate group,”
Snopes doesn't get it right there: It's not that facebook said 'antifa be a hate-group' (whatever regurgitating news made of it), offical facebook said that 'the nazis' are the hate-group that used that symbol (for prisoners)… Whether facebook is correct or not, Murtaugh twists these words as if he really doesn't understand?

Their 'rules' (which they enforce quite arbitrarily): It's said that 'you may use a hate-symbol' in a context to say 'this is bad' and 'analyse/discuss it'. Just not without any of such context or 'this is great'… “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

Notice that it's 'the group' that's banned, then 'the symbol they used', not 'the symbol as such'. In effect, Facebook says: the group 'Nazi-Germany' is the hate-group — and that Nazi-Germany used that symbol to identify prisoners', and that that kind of usage requires 'condemnig, according to their rules.' This is now going full circle to the start of this answer.

The real irony is that eg the VVN (victims of nazism, not 'a hate-goup') usage would fall foul of these 'rules' as formulated, most of the time, as they use their symbol without always 'discussing it'…

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jamiec Jun 26 at 16:16
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snopes states:

The ADL disputed that the red triangle was commonly used as an antifa symbol.

It's certainly not a commonly used antifa symbol (a time-restricted google search - for before the Trump scandal - returns almost no results.) and thus not an obvious choice for an attack ad on antifa - like the red and black flag or three arrows would be.

There are some occasional antifacist groups (when using a broad definition of antifa) which do use the symbol, such as the Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime*, but it is always a reference to the Nazi symbol which was used to mark political prisoners and because of that is a poor choice for usage in an attack ad.

* The anarchist Vrije Bond and small & local Antifa Utrecht (both from the Netherlands) are the two other examples I've seen frequently named by Trump supporters

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jamiec Jun 26 at 16:15
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There is a German antifa organisation rooted in concentration camp survivors which does use this symbol:

enter image description here

Like the antifas in the USA today, this organisation was also accused of extremism and there were attempts to ban the organisation shortly after it was founded. Those attempts failed when the organisation successfully showed that the presiding judge in the case and other jurists involved with the case had been active Nazis in the Third Reich (i.e. not Nazi as a pejorative, but the real original thing).

This same organisation also has some memorials with the symbol shown, for example this:

enter image description here

But most memorials using the symbol are rather official German memorials of which there is a list on Wikipedia. One example is this antifa memorial: enter image description here

So yes, this is clearly an antifa symbol. But if Trump wanted to eradicate it he would need to start a war with Germany among others because the kind of anti-fascism it represents has strong backing all over the world.

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    Aren't the official memorials for the victims of the Nazi regime, many of whom had to wear the badge, rather than anti-fascism as a movement? – lambshaanxy Jun 20 at 11:58
  • @lambshaanxy To a point, but this specific badge was mostly worn by the anti-fascists in the concentration camps. Most importantly the Jews were slaughtered with different badges, so the memorial is presumably not for the (majority Jewish) victims in general. – Nobody Jun 20 at 14:05
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    +1, but are these memorials in East Germany (where lip service to antifascism was officisl mainstream) or West Germany? The caption "Die Toten mahnen" strikes me as somehow typical for GDR-era monuments. But that may be a matter of insufficent exposure to monuments elsewhere. – Jan Jun 20 at 17:32
  • @Volker Siegel: I believe it is a bit unsatisfying that your second paragraph describes a situation that is exclusively Wesr-German, when your images are from East Germany (the first image is from Teltow, apparently). – Jan Jun 22 at 7:52
  • @Jan Right, I deleted it, thanks for pointing it out. – Volker Siegel Jun 22 at 8:23
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The symbol had been used as early as the 1890s, with more widespread usage adopted following World War 2. The symbol was originally used as an anti-fascist symbol, and has been used, as pointed out by other answers, by Antifa in America.

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    Welcome to the site. When you get the chance, please take the tour and check out the help center. Other than perhaps being redundant, meaning that the other answers well enough cover this I think, this is a good answer. You're CafePress example is certainly contributory. – fredsbend Jun 22 at 21:10
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    The CafePress link undermines your claim. It shows the page was only detected by the web-crawlers in June 18, 2020, not 2018 as you claim. – Oddthinking Jun 23 at 3:48
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    The second link is to a page (whose name translates to red triangle) that seems to have been registered for a while, but was empty until... June 2020. It provides no sources to back its claims. I suggest you remove it. – Oddthinking Jun 23 at 4:00
  • Perhaps replace it with trianglerouge.be, which has been around a lot longer. – Oddthinking Jun 23 at 4:05
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    @Oddthinking Thanks for checking that out and the recommendation, I updated the link. trianglerouge.be, it looks like, has been around since 2004, and populated with content referring to "leftist" resistance to "far right" ideology (albeit possibly in a different context, I didn't examine it closely enough) since 2007. – Yehuda Jun 23 at 14:00

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