Groups Behind Riots Being Investigated by Department of Justice: Top Official

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
September 1, 2020 Updated: September 1, 2020

The heads of organizations believed to be behind the recent riots in the United States are being probed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), a top law enforcement official said late Monday.

“This is something that I have talked to the attorney general personally about. And I know that they are working on it,” acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Chad Wolf said.

Wolf, responding to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on the host’s show, didn’t specify which groups, but Carlson had just asked why the leaders of Black Lives Matter and Antifa haven’t been charged.

DOJ officials are “also targeting and investigating the head of these organizations, the individuals that are paying for these individuals to move across the country,” Wolf added.

Groups and individuals have been moving from Portland, the nexus of the riots, to other parts of the country, the law enforcement official said, pointing to the fact that many of those arrested in Kenosha, Wisconsin were from outside the city.

“So we know they’re moving around, we’ve seen them in D.C., in Sacramento, and elsewhere. We know they’re organized. We have seen similar tactics being used from Portland and other cities across the country as well,” he said.

Wolf said he confers with William Barr, the attorney general, on almost a weekly basis about the investigations. DHS workers are providing any relevant information to the DOJ.

chad wolf
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testifies at a Senate hearing in Washington on March 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“I wish that was in a little quicker fashion, we’ll continue to see how that is, but, again, this administration, this president is committed to holding individuals accountable,” Wolf said. “I think that if folks start to realize, if you want to riot, you want to loot, you want to do some of these other criminal acts that we see around the country, there are going to be consequences for that.”

The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Barr said in a statement on May 31, after rioters destroyed swaths of Minneapolis and other cities, that “the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements.”

“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,” he said.

Task forces of officers are reviewing all available evidence from rioting dating back to May, Barr added in Wisconsin during a Sept. 1 roundtable.

When rioters are identified, “they will be prosecuted,” Barr vowed.

A DOJ spokeswoman said Monday that 300 have been arrested nationwide amid rioting and civil unrest, including 100 in Portland. Of the 302 people charged, 76 were in Portland, she said.

Questions about the organization behind the unrest have been put forth in recent days.

Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), center, and three women are escorted by police officers through a crowd in Washington on Aug. 28, 2020. (Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in an op-ed on Friday that some of the people who confronted attendees of President Donald Trump’s White House speech were staying in the same hotel, on the same floor, as he and his wife.

“My question is: Who are these people?” Paul wrote. “Who paid for their hotel rooms? Who flew them in? Law enforcement needs to look at the funding of violent criminal activity like this. And national Democrats need to confront it. It’s organized. It’s paid for. It’s violent. It’s not about Black lives or any lives; it’s about anarchy and destruction.”

Paul was the subject of harassment and death threats last week.

Trump said in a separate interview with Fox News on Monday that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” wearing dark uniforms took off “from a certain city this weekend.”

Asked where the plane left from, Trump said: “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now, but they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention, and there were like seven people on the plane like this person, and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage.”

A White House spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “The President is highlighting questions that need answers such as who may be funding travel and lodging for organized rioters. For example, violent rioters in Kenosha who were arrested hailed from 44 different cities. An investigation is underway to determine who is funding these organized riots happening across the country.”

Trump told reporters while en route to Wisconsin on Tuesday that the plane was “filled up with the looters, the anarchists the rioters” except for one person, who felt uncomfortable being among them.

“So I will see whether or not I can get that person. I’ll let them know, and I’ll see whether or not I can get that person to speak to you. But this was a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever,” he said. “And I’ll see if I can get that information for you. Maybe they’ll speak to you and maybe they won’t.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.