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AG Barr: Nationwide protests organized, ‘hijacked by violent radicals like Antifa’

Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks Thursday, July 11, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
May 30, 2020

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr spoke out Saturday against the increasingly violent nationwide riots, and said the demonstrations appear to have been “hijacked” by extreme leftist groups like Antifa.

“The voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” Barr said from the Department of Justice. “In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic, far-left extremist groups using Antifa like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”

Violent protests erupted in numerous cities nationwide in response to the killing of Minnesota man George Floyd in police custody on Monday. Derek Chauvin, the officer who was seen in video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck, was arrested on Friday and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder.

“Accountability for his death must be addressed, and is being addressed, through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level,” Barr said on Saturday. “That system is working and moving at exceptional speed.  Already initial charges have been filed by the state. That process continues to move forward and justice will be served.”

Both the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations have launched investigations into the incident, which they have prioritized at the request of President Donald Trump.

“We must have law and order on our streets and in our communities and it is the responsibility of the local and state leadership in the first instance to halt this violence,” Barr said. “The Department of Justice, including the FBI, US Marshals and ATF the DEA and our 93 USAO offices around the country are supporting these local efforts and are continuing to support them. We will take all actions necessary to enforce federal law.”

Barr also warned out-of-state protesters that they were in violation of federal law by crossing state lines to participate in violence.

“It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting, and we will enforce those laws,” he said.

Trump echoed Barr’s remarks on Twitter shortly after, saying, “Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME! Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests. Thank you!”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said at a press conference on Saturday that an estimated 80 percent of rioters came from out of state, while only 20 percent were Minnesota residents. St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter said everyone arrested in the city on Friday night was from out of state.

“80% of the RIOTERS in Minneapolis last night were from OUT OF STATE. They are harming businesses (especially African American small businesses), homes, and the community of good, hardworking Minneapolis residents who want peace, equality, and to provide for their families,” Trump tweeted.