By Jonathon Van Maren
On June 29, 2019, journalist Andy Ngo was covering a standoff between Antifa and the Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon. Black-clad Antifa rioters punched him in the head, kicked him, and beat him so badly he suffered a brain hemorrhage. Ngo’s work covering Antifa in Portland and across the United States has made him a target: he has photos of slogans such as “KILL ANDY NGO” spray-painted in enormous letters on walls; Antifa members have showed up at his front door late at night in black bloc, each wearing masks of his face. Reluctantly, Ngo recently decided that he had no choice but to leave his hometown and the United States for a while.
“I had to flee Portland because of the rising death threats against me and the deteriorating security situation, with police having been defunded by the millions and officers resigning and leaving the force and the city experiencing skyrocketing crime and homicides,” Ngo told me. “It was already dangerous enough to go on the ground, but it was becoming dangerous just to live there—to go grocery shopping, or to a restaurant, or to the gym, because I would get recognized and they would publicize where I could be found. I ended up leaving the country and going to the U.K.”
In May 2021, Ngo attempted to cover an Antifa demonstration in disguise on a trip home; he was recognized, chased, and beaten bloody.
Due to his years-long coverage of Antifa, Andy Ngo is one of the most threatened journalists in America—but he gets almost no support from establishment media, which either ignored or attacked his meticulously researched 2021 New York Times bestseller Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. Ngo is regularly accused—falsely—of having “far-right connections” and of exaggerating the threat Antifa poses, despite an enormous amount of evidence that Antifa played a key role in the Black Lives Matter riots last year that resulted in over two dozen deaths and millions of dollars in damage.
The main critique of Unmasked isn’t about the veracity of his reporting, but that the book isn’t about the Proud Boys or some right-wing group. Kirkus Reviews actually claimed that Ngo is a delusional QAnon type because he detailed how Democrats and progressive institutions frequently enable Antifa by defending them or downplaying their violence (Joe Biden has insisted that Antifa “is an idea, not an organization”). The Los AngelesTimes accused Ngo of missing the real threat (on the right, of course) and claimed that it was packed with falsehoods without naming any of them.