Attorney General William Barr said on Saturday it appears that “many places” across the United States are seeing violent protests spurred by “anarchic” and “far-left extremist groups.”
Matthew 24:7 KJV – “For nation shall rise against nation [Greek: ‘Ethnos’ shall rise against ‘ethnos’], and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
During a brief public appearance at the Justice Department, he said these agitators are using “antifa-like tactics” and that many of them are traveling from out of state to participate in the protests. Barr, who did not take any questions, noted that such individuals could be committing federal crimes and asserted that authorities will be enforcing the law.
Protests have popped up in major cities across the country after 46-year-old George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police on Monday. Floyd, a black man, died after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin restrained him by placing his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The biggest protests have occurred in Minnesota, where demonstrations have often morphed into rioting, looting, arson, the burning of businesses, and clashes with police.
Calling for law and order in the streets, Barr insisted that it is the responsibility of state and local leadership to be the front line against the violence. Protests and riots in Minneapolis stretched into a fourth night on Friday in spite of an 8 p.m. curfew order and the deployment of National Guard members into the area.
Officials in Minnesota held a press conference Saturday morning to address the protests.
Minnesota’s public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said the state is analyzing information about people arrested during the violent riots in Minneapolis in reaction to Floyd’s death, speculating they may be related to white supremacists.
State officials also estimated that about 80% of the people arrested in the Twin Cities on Friday came from outside Minnesota.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said there is one “group of folks that are sad and mourning” Floyd’s death. “There seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc,” he added.
Shortly after Barr wrapped up his brief statement, President Trump followed up with a tweet urging the “liberal” leadership in Minnesota to toughen up.
“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!” he said.
Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s detainment were fired on Tuesday. Chauvin was taken into custody on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since then, large and often violent protests have broken out in Minneapolis, St. Paul, New York City, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and dozens of other cities.
Barr emphasized that “already initial charges have been filed by the state” against Chauvin as he promised that “justice will be served.” The FBI and Justice Department are carrying out an separate investigation into whether the Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death violated any federal civil rights laws.
“Unfortunately with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protest are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” Barr said. “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda. In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and far-left extremist groups using antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”
Antifa, which claims to be anti-fascist, is an often-violent activist group whose masked supporters protest law enforcement and work to promote left-wing policies. Antifa was declared a terrorist organization by the New Jersey Homeland Security office in 2017.
The attorney general added said the Justice Department, FBI, U.S. Marshals, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, and all 93 U.S. attorneys offices were working to assist in the efforts to end the rioting.
Noting “it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting,” Barr pledged the Justice Department will “take all action necessary to enforce federal law.”