Widespread protests, accompanied by violent rioting and destructive looting, have plunged numerous American cities into chaos over the past week and a half — and many Democratic leaders sat back and watched while their outnumbered and unsupported police departments were helpless to calm the situation.
But the federal government has now stepped in and provided some assistance in that regard, and Attorney General Bill Barr revealed the bombshell news on Thursday that a full 51 people have been arrested for federal crimes related to the rioting thus far, as The Epoch Times reported.
That revelation from Barr came at a press conference on Thursday, where he was joined by FBI Director Chris Wray and other top federal law enforcement officials to discuss the federal government’s ongoing response to the chaos and destruction that erupted in the wake of the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, according to the Times.
The murder that sparked it all
In his remarks at the press conference, the attorney general first spent a few moments speaking about what had happened to Floyd. Barr said his Justice Department is working in coordination with Minnesota officials to hold the since-fired officers involved accountable under the law, including by way of a parallel, but separate, federal investigation into possible civil rights violations.
Barr also took note of the obvious lack of confidence among the black community toward local law enforcement, and signaled that his department would work with both police and community leaders to address long-standing grievances regarding police brutality, racism, and unequal applications of justice.
But while Barr was sympathetic to those who’ve been peacefully protesting the murder of Floyd and related issues, the same could not be said for those who are exploiting the tragedy to engage in wanton lawlessness or to push more insidious agendas, including what the AG called “extremist agitators” encouraging the chaos.
“While many have peacefully expressed their anger and grief, others have hijacked protests to engage in lawlessness — violent rioting and arson, looting of businesses and public property, assaults on law enforcement officers and innocent people, and even the murder of a federal agent,” Barr said, according to a transcript provided by the Justice Department.
He went on: “Such senseless acts of anarchy are not exercises of First Amendment rights; they are crimes designed to terrify fellow citizens and intimidate communities.”
Rioters and looters and agitators
The attorney general also noted that there are three distinct groups taking to the streets: the first, which comprises most of the demonstrators, Barr said, is the peaceful protesters.
However, “at some demonstrations, there are groups that exploit the opportunity to engage in looting,” Barr said, according to the transcript. “And finally, at some demonstrations, there are extremist agitators who are hijacking the protests to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.”
Those groups include Antifa as well as “foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence,” Barr explained, according to the transcript.
“The federal government has thus far made 51 arrests for federal crimes in connection with violent rioting,” Barr said. “We will continue to investigate, make arrests, and prosecute where warranted.”