President Donald Trump portrays the hundreds of people arrested nationwide in protests against racial injustice as violent urban left-wing radicals.
Attorney General William Barr has urged his prosecutors to bring federal charges on protesters who cause violence and has suggested that rarely used sedition charges could apply.
In one case in Utah, where a police car was burned, federal prosecutors had to defend why they were bringing arson charges in federal court.
Some live in cities like Portland and Seattle where local prosecutors declined to bring some protest-related charges.
Even though most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, Trump has made “law and order” a major part of his reelection campaign, casting the protests as lawless and violent in mostly Democratic cities he says have done nothing to stymie the mayhem.
In some cases, prosecutors have gone so far as appealing judge’s orders to release defendants.
“We have no evidence of him — at least that’s been given to me — being a radical or a member of a group that advocates violence toward the police or others.
While some of the defendants clearly hold radical or anti-government beliefs, prosecutors have provided little evidence of any affiliations they have with organized extremist groups.
In one arrest in Erie, Pennsylvania, community members raised more than $2,500 to help with bail for a 29-year-old Black man who was arrested after they said white people had come from out of town and spray painted a parking lot.
In thousands of pages of court documents, the only apparent mention of antifa is in a Boston case in which authorities said a FBI Gang Task Force member was investigating “suspected ANTIFA activity associated with the protests” when a man fired at him and other officers.
Of the 93 people arrested on federal criminal charges in Portland, 18 defendants are from out of state, the Justice Department said.
Brian Bartels, a 20-year-old suburban Pittsburgh man who is described by prosecutors as a “self-identified left-wing anarchist,” was flanked by his parents when he turned himself in to authorities.
Bartels, who lives at his parents’ house, spray painted an “A” on a police cruiser before jumping on top of it and smashing its windshield during a protest in the city, prosecutors said.
One defendant who was arrested during a protest in the central Massachusetts city of Worcester told authorities he was “with the anarchist group.”
Two Missouri militia members who authorities say traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to see Trump’s visit in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake were arrested at a hotel in September with a cache of guns, according to court documents.
Three of the men arrested are far-right extremists, members of the “Boogaloo” movement plotting to overthrow the government and had been stockpiling military-grade weapons and hunting around for the right public event to unleash violence for weeks before Floyd’s death, according to court documents.
Posted in: Social Justice