In the wake of the untimely death of 46-year-old George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, protests have popped up across the country.
But according to Attorney General Bill Barr, what began as peaceful demonstrations have been hijacked by “violent radical agitators” — and in a bombshell announcement Sunday, he said federal law enforcement officials have been ordered to help “confront and stop” the violence.
“Confront and stop it”
Barr let it be known in his Sunday statement that neither he nor the Justice Department has any problem with the legitimate and peaceful — if nevertheless angry — protests over Floyd’s death.
Instead, the Justice Department’s focus remains solely on “groups of outside radicals and agitators” who Barr says “are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.”
“With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements,” the attorney general said.
He went on: “It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it. The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.”
“We cannot let them succeed”
Barr also placed some of the blame on America’s governors, who President Donald Trump has suggested are acting too slowly amid the increasingly violent protests.
“It is the responsibility of state and local leaders to ensure that adequate law enforcement resources, including the National Guard where necessary, are deployed on the streets to reestablish law and order,” Barr said in his statement. “We saw this finally happen in Minneapolis last night, and it worked.”
As part of that effort, Barr says federal law enforcement officials will be coordinating with “state and local partners” to help ” identify criminal organizers and instigators.”
“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,” the attorney general added, in an apparent nod to President Trump’s recent declaration of the group as a terrorist organization.
All in all, this is a great and — while perhaps a bit overdue — very necessary move to ensure that peaceful demonstrators around the country can have their voices heard, instead of being drowned out by rioters and looters failing to advance the cause.
“Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups,” Barr said Sunday. “We cannot let them succeed.”