Democrat members of the House Homeland Security Committee sent a request to the officials at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday to provide more information about alleged extremist involvement in protests over George Floyd’s death.
The committee sent the letter, to FBI Director Christopher Wray and acting Secretary of DHS Chad Wolf, asking them to provide a myriad of documents related to the involvement of left and right-wing extremists in the recent riots throughout the United States.
Chairman of the committee Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said it is very concerning that Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump have repeatedly blamed far-left extremists for the violence in the last week.
“President Trump tweeted: “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” The same day, the National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct surveillance of Antifa and prosecute its members,” the letter stated.
“We have serious concerns about the Constitutional implications of several of these statements.”
“We also seek to understand the truth and evidence behind reports of extremist involvement in protests and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI are responding to these issues while ensuring that Americans’ civil rights and civil liberties are protected,” the committee said in the letter (pdf).
The members want all documents starting from Jan. 1 to the present related to DHS and FBI intelligence about protests, including communication shared with to law enforcement partners, information relating to the designation of groups as domestic terrorist organizations, documents related to the deployment of DHS resources, and all documents related to the surveillance of protestors.
The committee wants the documents by June 19, and the letter notes that the members will be briefed by the DHS and the FBI by June 12.
“The stakes—including the protection of Americans’ physical safety and their Constitutional rights—are enormous,” the letter added.
The letter refers to reports that the Minneapolis riots have been led by right-wing and left-wing anti-government groups.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that the “dynamic [of the protest] has changed over the last several days.”
“We saw more and more people coming from outside of the city. We saw more and more people looking to cause violence in our communities and I have to say it is not acceptable,” he said during a press conference on May 30.
President Trump announced on Monday the United States will designate Antifa, as a domestic terrorist organization.
Journalist Andy Ngo who has covered many Antifa events in Portland, Oregon said, in a Twitter response to Trump’s latest announcement, “Federal investigative authorities must dismantle the networks & hundreds of [A]ntifa cells across the U.S. who radicalize, train & carry out organized extremist violence.”
“They also have international links to affinity cells in Western Europe,” Ngo added. “It is domestic & international terrorism.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” said in a statement Sunday.
Boogaloo Bois, an anti-government far-right group which has stated that fighting police brutality is one of its central goals and was among those who are said to have rioted in the streets of Minneapolis. They are anti-law enforcement.
Attorney General William Barr said during a press conference that the violence within these protests appears to have been “planned, organized, and driven” by groups of outside radicals and agitators who are exploiting the situation in order to achieve “their own separate and violent agenda.”