In an exclusive, glowing and lengthy profile, Reuters is promoting an Antifa extremist who calls for violence and has ongoing charges for violent crimes.
The expose published Wednesday by the multinational media conglomerate is titled “American Antifa: A woman’s journey from Girl Scout to anarchist street warrior.” In the “special report” by Reuters Investigates, the establishment news outlet touts 37-year-old Nicole Barbara Armbruster, a violent suspect in several ongoing criminal cases. “Antifascism is more than just punching Nazis in the face,” Reuters quotes Armbruster for the article’s promotional tweet on Twitter, adding in the story: “Nonetheless, she believes violence can serve a purpose.”
Reuters documents the Girl Scouts leader-turned-Antifa radical’s journey from being a college honors student to a street combatant, noting that Armbruster’s radicalization “offers rare insight into this far-left movement and its motivations.”
Armbruster, once a day camp coordinator for the Girl Scouts youth organization for six years, came from a well-to-do suburban family and was radicalized after attending St. Lawrence University, a private liberal arts college in rural New York.
There, at the institution a half hour from the Canadian border, Armbruster engaged as an activist while a global studies major. Professor Kenneth Gould, a sociologist now at CUNY Brooklyn, was on the faculty and recalls Armbruster as a “far-left progressive” student whose honors thesis focused on the “organizational structures” of protests against the Free Trade Agreement.
At present day, Armbruster lives a nomadic lifestyle with another Antifa activist, operating from a camper she tows from campground to campground.
Over the years, Armbruster has worked as a children’s camp director, nonprofit fundraiser, and swim coach. A former Girl Scout herself from kindergarten through high school, the current political anarchist opposed to hierarchies and government can still recite the “God and Country” creed.
She now has a long arrest record across the states of Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota, and Florida as well as the nation’s capital, dating back to 2003 for charges of unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, violating the Riot Act, and assaulting “far-right” figures and a police officer. She faces just three pending cases after a majority of Armbruster’s prior charges were dismissed by judges or prosecutors.
Armbruster agreed to speak with Reuters after conferring with family and attorney and was willing to discuss anything except the criminal charges in Washington.
One case stems from Dec. 12 when police charged Armbruster with assault for spraying bear repellent during brawls with the Proud Boys group near the White House. In another case from June 26, 2020, police charged Armbruster with assaulting Human Events senior editor Jack Posobiec, author of The Antifa: Stories from Inside the Black Bloc. Armbruster donned a helmet, goggles, black clothes, and a backpack and was part of the surrounding swarm of Antifa adherents who tried to push Posobiec backwards down the steps, police report. DC police arrest forms have checkmarked the “violent tendencies” classification for Armbruster. She has pleaded not guilty in the ongoing assault case.
Two days prior, Armbruster was arrested in DC and charged with burglary for forcibly gaining entry to St. Regis Hotel around 2:00 am and stealing property.
Over months of interviews, she and several colleagues spoke publicly about Antifa, which some of the far-left organization’s followers have been hostile toward journalists by beating, harassing, and doxing reporters and videographers alike who attempt to document the violent movement’s criminal activities.
Armbruster’s first arrest was for unlawful assembly in 2003 at a free trade protest in Miami; the charge was dropped. She was busted in 2005 for unlawful entry involving a protest at a school in Washington; the misdemeanor case was dismissed in a sentencing agreement. Then in 2008, she was arrested in Minnesota for unlawful assembly during the Republican National Convention. Prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor case, court records show.
Later in 2012, she was charged with assaulting a police officer after a World Bank and IMF protest. Although the charge was dismissed, a federal judge later said Armbruster had tried to de-arrest a comrade by pulling a friend free by the arm from two arresting police officers. Armbruster then sued the police for excessive force in the incident; the case was also dismissed.
“We are prepared to put our bodies on the line in the event of police or fascist or racist violence,” Armbruster told Reuters. “And it’s really, like, a duty to humanity to do that, right?” Antifa’s self-style mission is to “disrupt fascist and far-right organizing” such as deplatforming political opponents on social media. Armbruster’s travelling companion 70-year-old fellow Antifa activist Jesse Schultz said that he and Armbruster “deplatform with our hands and feet, maybe a piece of wood or something. You know, that means punching or kicking.”
Armbruster and Schultz were among over 200 black-clad rioters arrested on Jan. 20, 2017, the day Trump was inaugurated, also known as “J20.” Schultz was ready to use a bicycle as a weapon against Bikers for Trump motorcyclists headed down an alley before police responded to the scene to coral the black bloc. Without discretion, law enforcement kettled the hundreds of activists marching down 13th St. NW, sweeping the unruly crowd into a cordoned-off area.
Months later, the bulk of cases were dismissed, after 21 suspects agreed to take pleas. Armbruster’s case was dismissed in March 2019. Schultz is lead plaintiff in a class action federal civil lawsuit against the District of Columbia government alleging false arrest. Schultz’s lawyer and city attorneys have filed court papers saying they’re planning to settle for $995,000 split among plaintiffs.
The complaint was filed against Metropolitan Police Department officials for failing to distinguish rioters from peaceful participants during the mass arrest. The false arrest plaintiffs asked the court to declare the conduct unlawful and to expunge the false arrests from the records of the class members, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and alleging that the “overwhelming majority” of the demonstrators were “peaceful and law-abiding.” The suit argued that the First Amendment rights of the suspects were violated when the individuals were taken into custody without probable cause based on “actual or perceived ‘anarchist’ or ‘anti-capitalist’ ideology” or “association with such individuals.”
On Dec. 12, a jam-packed presence of Trump supporters gathered in Washington as the outgoing Republican president flew over the crowd in the Marine One helicopter. Armbruster was arrested when, according to police, she sprayed someone with pepper gas in an unprovoked attack and carried seven packages of commercial grade fireworks along with two canisters of lighter fluid. Armbruster was charged with assault, pleaded not guilty, and spent two nights in jail.
Last year, Armbruster bought a patch of land in Arizona. She and Schultz have a trailer and an RV rigged with solar panels. The two are attempting to retrofit a 25-year-old Las Vegas party bus, where a stripper pole was removed from the middle, into a large RV so friends can travel with the pair. The vehicle’s bus seats have been dismantled and spread out across the barren desert.
“You can tell everyone you found the Antifa bus,” said Schultz with a grin. Reuters adds, “referring to an urban myth that Antifa agitators arrive in cities by the busload,” to mythicize the movement that dispatches out-of-town comrades from across city lines to planned direct action events where riot gear is dispensed.
Reuters claims in the article that under the Trump administration, Antifa served as “a whipping boy for the president and his supporters” and was painted by the Proud Boys that oppose the far-left force as “a dark and dangerous enemy.”
During the former Trump presidency, the 45th commander-in-chief moved to designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, “though there is no system for such designations,” Reuters rebuts. The outlet goes on to parrot President Joe Biden’s talking points on Antifa while facing Trump on the 2020 presidential debate stage.
“In reality, Antifa is not a well-structured organization, but rather a loosely organized, secretive movement of like-minded far-left activists. There are no leaders, no hierarchy and no formal membership,” Reuters further downplays Antifa’s ability to mobilize and terrorize local communities. Reuters emphasizes that the the activists organize in small informal units of three to eight individuals who trust and protect each other during protests called “affinity groups.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death last May, cities were gripped by violent civil unrest involving leftists extremists who clashed with police outside downtown business and in residential neighborhoods. Riot-torn Portland was rocked by more than 100 day of consecutive unlawful assemblies organized by Antifa. Reuters alleges that “[l]ittle evidence has emerged, though, to support Trump’s sweeping claim of a central Antifa role in triggering disturbances around the US.”
“Antifa has become, like, the boogeyman,” Armbruster says, bolstering the Reuters-crafted narrative attempting to delegitimize Antifa’s threat to America.
Andy Ngo contributed to the reporting of this story.