A multiracial family on a camping trip in Washington state was accused of being antifa protesters, and then followed and menaced by people wielding rifles, authorities said Tuesday.
The Clallam County Sheriff's Department released a picture of four trucks that carried men who might have been involved in the incident on Wednesday of last week around Forks, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula just across the Salish Sea from British Columbia.
The men could be charged with harassment and malicious mischief, Clallam County Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said.
"We have tentatively identified some of the vehicles, but we are looking for more information," King added. "The posting has already generated plenty of leads for which we are following up on."
The family from Spokane was traveling in an old school bus and had stopped at an outdoors store for camping supplies when they were "confronted by seven or eight car loads of people" who "repeatedly asked them if they were" antifa, according to a statement by deputies.
"The family told the people they weren’t associated with any such group and were just camping," according to the sheriff.
Since nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd broke out two weeks ago, President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr have, with no evidence, blamed antifa for looting and property damage during the unrest.
And in conservative circles, there have been persistent but unfounded rumors about groups of antifa members being put on buses and sent to small towns to wreak havoc.
Antifa is a loose network of radicals who rely on direct action, and sometimes violence, to fight the far right and fascism.
Despite the Spokane family's denial, "four vehicles followed them," and two "of the vehicles had people in them and carrying what appeared to be semi-automatic rifles," according to the law enforcement statement.
The family — a husband, his mother, wife and 16-year-old daughter — pitched a tent, but left a short time later, officials said.
"They became concerned for their safety after hearing gun shots in the distance and power saws down the road from where they were camping. The family, concerned for their safety, decided to pack up their camp and leave," the sheriff said. "As they drove back down the spur road they discovered someone had fell trees across the road, preventing their exit."
A group of students from Forks High School came upon the downed trees, used their own chainsaws to clear the roadway and called sheriff's deputies, authorities said.
After family members were interviewed by sheriff's investigators, their "bus broke down and officers helped them get the bus running again so they could continue their travels," according to deputies.