DOJ Has Brought Charges in 150 Federal Cases Linked to Rioting, US Attorney Says

July 3, 2020 Updated: July 3, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) has so far brought charges in 150 federal cases related to acts of violence amid nationwide protests that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death, according to the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

The department and other federal agencies have been prioritizing efforts to quell outbreaks of violent rioting in several cities and restore law and order to those areas over the past month. The death of Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police, sparked widespread protests across the nation to call for change over police brutality and policing practices. While many of the protests were peaceful, some cities were faced with the violent activity that has led to significant property damage and more than a dozen deaths.

Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, provided an update of the department’s efforts in the area on Thursday on Fox News Tucker Carlson’s show. He said that to date the U.S. attorney’s offices across the nation have brought charges in 150 cases related to the destruction of federal property and “a litany of other crimes that really have been lost in the shuffle,” including cases related to arson as well as murder in California.

He added that federal resources have also been used to assist with local and state authorities to charge hundreds of other cases related to state charges including assault and battery and theft.

“Even though we don’t get a federal stat for those cases, there are hundreds of other cases the federal government has used to assist those local law enforcement agencies to ensure that, look, this violence will not be tolerated and it cannot be condoned in any way,” Sherwin said, adding that authorities want to send a message that “there is a difference between these crimes and legitimate protests.”

Senior officials have attributed the violent activity to extremist groups such as Antifa. Attorney General William Barr previously said that actors from a variety of different political persuasions have “hijacked” the protests to pursue their own violent agendas and engage in lawlessness. Some groups have barricaded large areas in some cities to set up self-declared autonomous zones such as in Seattle and New York City.

More recently, groups have been targeting monuments and statues of former U.S. presidents who had links to colonialism and slavery. This had prompted President Donald Trump to sign an executive order to protect the country’s monuments, memorials, and statues. He also authorized the federal government to arrest any person who vandalizes or destroys a monument or other federal property, a crime that could attract a prison sentence of 10 years.

Four individuals have since been charged in connection with a failed attempt to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson near the White House.

“People can’t unilaterally decide what is right and what is wrong. And if those people do make that decision on their own and take the law into their own hands, the law will come after them and the United States will use federal resources to charge you if you’re inciting violence or destroying these monuments,” Sherwin said during the interview.

Sherwin said the department was in the progress of identifying the individuals who are commanding and controlling the operations of some of the violent activity. He said that it appears that a bulk of the cases are related to individuals who are “self-radicalized or lone wolves that self identify” with extremist groups on the left and on the right.

“That’s not saying that there isn’t an overall command and control, but we have not identified that full architecture yet,” Sherwin said, adding that at the moment the department is charging individuals “not of the basis of political affiliation” but the evidence collected.

Barr has previously said that the department has evidence that “Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.”

“We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence,” he said.

In an interview with Fox News, Barr explained that Antifa hasn’t yet been mentioned in criminal complaints related to the rioting because federal authorities are still conducting comprehensive investigations into certain individuals with ties to the extremist group.

“We have some investigations underway and very focused investigations on certain individuals that relate to Antifa,” Barr said during an interview with Fox News on June 8. “But in the … initial phase of identifying people and arresting them, they were arrested for crimes that don’t require us to identify a particular group or don’t necessitate that.”

Individuals who were charged with federal crimes were arrested for a range of alleged conduct, including pointing laser beams at law enforcement aircraft, setting police vehicles on fire, possession of firearms during the protests, theft and looting, inciting riots, and for impersonating a federal officer.

In one case, three New York residents, Colinford Mattis, Urooj Rahman, Samantha Shader were charged in two separate indictments for allegedly trying to use improvised incendiary devices, commonly known as “Molotov cocktails,” to damage a New York City Police Department vehicle in May.

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