As protests have erupted into violence and destruction in cities across the U.S. for more than a week, Attorney General William Barr made it clear on Thursday that he knows who the real culprits are — and an investigation is underway.
“We have 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,” he said during a press conference, according to Breitbart.
“Set out to sow discord”
Also present at the briefing was FBI Director Christopher Wray, who echoed Barr’s message about the role extremist agitators have played in the ongoing demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.
According to Breitbart, Wray said such criminals have “set out to sow discord and upheaval, rather than join in the righteous pursuit of equality and justice.”
Bolstered by the strength of the nation’s intelligence community, Wray added that Americans should expect to see action in response to the widespread chaos reported on the streets of multiple cities.
“We’ve directed our 200 joint terrorism task forces around the country to assist law enforcement with apprehending and charging violent agitators who are hijacking peaceful protests on a national level,” he said, according to Breitbart.
In an earlier address, Barr similarly called out Antifa by name, adding that it was time to “stop watching the violence” and stand up to it with decisive action.
“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 on Sunday, according to a transcript provided by the Justice Department.
“Done over Antifa accounts”
In addition to President Donald Trump, who vowed to declare the loosely affiliated group a “terrorist organization,” other officials have joined Barr in denouncing Antifa.
“The protest and looting of Target in Austin that was done and organized by an Antifa web page and, of course, the surveillance that was provided over the internet identifying where law enforcement resources were staged, was done over Antifa accounts,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw said, according to a Dallas–Ft. Worth CBS affiliate.
He went on to confirm that “special agents” have been embedded in these groups with the mission of exposing their plots, adding that arrests in the case are coming.
Some critics might find fault with Trump’s tough rhetoric in response to the turmoil that has descended on many communities in recent days. Officials on the local, state, and federal levels, however, are pursuing similar paths in an effort to restore the peace.