‘Violent opportunists’: DOJ announces more than 300 federal arrests during nationwide protests

Attorney General Bill Barr has repeatedly stressed the importance of holding to account those individuals responsible for lawlessness amid ongoing civil unrest across the nation — and now, his Justice Department is unleashing its fury.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that more than 300 suspects are facing federal criminal charges stemming from riots throughout the past several months, Fox News reported.

“Violent opportunists”

Among the criminal behavior being prosecuted is burglary, arson, and attempted murder, among others, which the DOJ said were committed “under the guise” of participating in anti-racist activism, according to Fox.

Such demonstrations began to spread widely following the death of George Floyd while in police custody earlier this year in Minneapolis. Over the intervening months, however, the Justice Department asserted that the protests had been “hijacked” by a criminal element.

“Violent opportunists have exploited these demonstrations in various ways,” the statement from the DOJ said, going on to depict property damage, arson, and violence across more than two dozen cities.

“In some instances, these individuals are alleged to have set fires to local businesses as well as city and federal property, which will regrettably incur millions of taxpayer dollars to repair damages to the Portland Courthouse, Nashville Courthouse, Minneapolis Police Third Precinct, Seattle Police East Precinct, and local high school in Minnesota; and, to replace police cruisers in South Carolina, Washington, Rhode Island, Georgia, Utah, and other states,” the department concluded.

According to the statement, 80 individuals are facing arson or explosives-related charges. Another 15 are being charged with damaging federal property.

“Destruction and assaults”

Of the 35 charged with assaulting law enforcement officers, all but one were in Oregon. Portland has consistently been the site of rioting and destruction throughout much of the year.

“In Portland, a man is alleged to have approached a U.S. Marshals Deputy from behind and struck the deputy in the upper back, neck, and shoulder with a wooden baseball bat; another man, allegedly assaulted a Deputy U.S. Marshal with an explosive device,” the Justice Department said.

A deadly shooting in that city marked an especially troubling sign of escalating tensions last month.

Additionally, 30 people were charged with inciting riots, allegedly using social media in some cases to provoke “destruction and assaults against law enforcement officers.” In Knoxville, for example, a man reportedly directed his online followers to bring hammers and bricks to a riot.

As Election Day draws near and protests continue to rage in communities nationwide, concerned voters might be reassured by the most recent Justice Department update.

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