American cities descended into chaos last week as protests that soon morphed into violent riots broke out across the country. Now, Attorney General Bill Barr is making clear that he’s had enough.
“We must have law and order on our streets and in our communities,” Barr declared at a press conference Saturday morning, according to the New York Post.
“It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting,” he explained, adding, “We will enforce these laws.”
Arrests and protests
According to the New York Post, Barr was referring Saturday to a piece of legislation passed in 1968 called the Anti-Riot Act. Those convicted under its provisions can face a punishment of up to half a decade in prison.
His remarks came in light of protests–turned–riots that first began in Minnesota after video emerged last week of a now-former Minneapolis police officer kneeling on an unarmed black man’s neck for more than eight minutes, leading to his apparent death. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, who is white, “was arrested late Friday morning and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter” for the death of George Floyd.
But the charges haven’t stopped demonstrators from lining the streets — and not all of them have been peaceful. “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” the attorney general said Saturday, according to the New York Post.
In Dallas, gruesome footage has emerged of a man being savagely beaten by a large group of assailants on Saturday evening, some of whom were wielding blunt objects, according to a local CBS affiliate. In a video reported to have been taken in Rochester, New York, a man and woman can be seen being brutally pummeled with a wooden board.
Police have also been a target. Federal law enforcement officer Patrick Underwood was shot and killed in California on Friday as he monitored a protest event, according to the local ABC 7. Another officer was wounded in the same attack.
In the nation’s capital, an angry mob even attempted to force their way onto the White House grounds before being pushed back with tear gas, as The Washington Post reported.
Like Barr, President Donald Trump has also suggested that these rioters aren’t associated with the group protesting Floyd’s death. “These are ‘Organized Groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd. Sad!” he tweeted Saturday.
The next morning, Trump announced via Twitter that the radical left-wing group Antifa would be designated a terrorist organization after alleging in a previous tweet that the group played a role in the violence in Minneapolis. Short for “anti-fascist,” Antifa members have been observed participating in previous riots, including some that have targeted the president’s rallies, according to Townhall.
Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night. The ANTIFA led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly. Should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020