Attorney General William Barr has created a new task force to stop organized crime by “violent anti-government extremists” of all stripes, according to a Friday memo.
U.S. Attorneys Craig Carpenito of New Jersey and Erin Nealy Cox of the District of North Texas were tapped to head up the task force, which will monitor activity from violent anarchist groups and work to stop any planned criminal activity.
Crackdown on anarchists
“Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr wrote in a memo, which was shared to Twitter by DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
The task force will use FBI resources to get information about each group’s activities and share that information with relevant federal and local authorities when likely threats to public safety are discovered, Barr said. Training and advice as well as resources to assist law enforcement will also be part of the task force.
Violent groups pose ongoing threats
Barr said there was already evidence that multiple anti-government violent extremist groups would pose an ongoing threat to law and order in the U.S. “Some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country,” he went on.
The DOJ is responding to these groups the same way they do to “other organized criminal or terrorists networks,” Barr noted, with disruption and by not giving them the opportunity to follow through on their goals.
The groups Barr is targeting include far-left groups like antifa, as well as supporters of the far-right “Boogaloo” movement, and other extremists.
Three men linked to the “Boogaloo” movement are among the many arrested for violence during the protests of George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Violence was intentional, took advantage of protests
At least some of the violence and rioting that accompanied the Floyd protests is thought to have been part of organized efforts to sow civil unrest. Regardless of the source, Barr is going after those who committed criminal acts during the protests.
On Thursday, when Barr was a guest on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) podcast Verdict, he said that 35 joint task forces were conducting 500 investigations into the violence that sprung from protests. Barr also said that there have already been “scores of indictments” stemming from violent acts during the protests.
“They want to tear down the country. They are different than many traditional groups, and frequently, the signs of coordination and activity are very close to the event itself,” the attorney general said on the podcast about the “provocateurs and agitators” behind the recent violence and vandalizing of monuments.
Being able to stop violent protests when they occur will be an important part of law and order during this time when lawless groups feel emboldened to act against the police and other officials.