Attorney General William Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to deploy riot teams to the District of Columbia and Miami to help quell the outbreaks of violence as peaceful protests against police brutality across the country have morphed into chaotic scenes of looting and destruction.
Many nonviolent protests in cities across the United States after the police custody death of George Floyd have erupted into chaos, with Barr saying in a statement Sunday that law enforcement would target “violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest.”
The chief of the Office of Public Affairs at the BOP, which is part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that Barr oversees, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that highly trained BOP tactical units capable of responding to prison disturbances and crowd control scenarios have been dispatched to Miami and the nation’s capital.
“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it. Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of radical groups. We cannot let them succeed,” Barr said in a statement.
A senior DOJ official told USA Today and The Washington Post that the FBI has also deployed its elite Hostage Rescue Unit to the capital, adding that every FBI field office was setting up command posts to coordinate its response with local law enforcement.
DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement that President Donald Trump had directed Barr to lead federal policing efforts in the nation’s capital.
“The Department of Justice has deployed all of its law enforcement components—FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals, and BOP—and is closely coordinated with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to maximize federal security presence throughout the District,” Kupec said.
The moves come as mostly peaceful protests following the police custody death of George Floyd have turned violent, with fires across Washington, scores of businesses with broken windows, and dozens of police officers injured.
Protests near the White House erupted into violent confrontations with police ahead of the city’s 11 p.m. curfew Monday, with authorities later announcing the curfew would be revised to 7 p.m. in a bid to prevent a further descent into violence.
Miami has also seen an eruption of unrest, with a South Beach restaurant owner telling the Miami New Times that the riots are hitting the restaurant industry at a time when they’re hurting due to pandemic-driven closures.
“There were protests and I understand that. But my restaurant stays open through everything,” said Stephanie Vittori, owner of Cheeseburger Baby. “This is kicking us while we’re down.”
In a call with governors on Monday, Trump and Barr encouraged more aggressive action against those who exploit peaceful protests to cause violence.
Barr told the state leaders that law enforcement officials must “have adequate force” and “go after troublemakers.”
“Law enforcement response is not going to work unless we dominate the streets,” Barr said.
Trump said he was “taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America.”