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U.S. Attorney General William Barr said during a podcast on Thursday that the Justice Department is working to identify vandals who attempted to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson across from the White House earlier this week and will prosecute them.
In addition, Barr told Sen. Ted Cruz’s “Verdict” podcast featuring Daily Wire journalist Michael Knowles that the department has already indicted rioters and vandals for violating federal statutes while noting that the department has at least 500 active investigations into violence linked to recent protests and unrest.
“Obviously, we’re going to prosecute… videos of those involved in the attack on President Jackson’s statue are being reviewed,” Barr said.
The attorney general noted further that the FBI’s terrorism task forces are tracking the activities of far-Left groups like Antifa and others after they have allegedly hijacked protests which sprang from the death of George Floyd last month.
But, he said, while federal law enforcement generally takes a back seat to local and state police when it comes to initial investigations of criminal activity, those agencies needed to “step up.”
“The federal government is best positioned to address this kind of violence and lawlessness after it occurs because we don’t have FBI agents walking the beat,” Barr said.
“And in fact, when the real violence started around May 25, 26, and so forth, we started using our joint terrorist task forces around the country. And there are 35 of them around the country,” he continued.
“It involves all state and local in those jurisdictions and all the federal agencies. And it’s the system we designed to follow terrorists. And now they are starting to go full bore, cranking out investigations, indictments against the people who are involved in this violence.”
The AG said that the Justice Department has already indicted some individuals on federal charges related to riotous activities around the country. And he stated that federal authorities have established that many of the acts of violence are being “coordinated,” though he did not elaborate on who — or which organizations — were involved in the coordination.
“We are seeing strong evidence of coordination in many of these violent episodes,” Barr said. “Fundamentally, what you have here is you have demonstrators, some of them go there with the intent of demonstrating, but you have a group of provocateurs and agitators, sometimes a significant group, that try to convert those into violent activity. And they seem to be very well coordinated when they show up.”
“A number of them are associated with the movement called Antifa, but they go by various names, but frequently anarchist. 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 AG said,.
“So like the morning of or the day before, and things are very fast-moving. But we definitely see signs out on the street of communication, of organization, of preplanning, prepositioning of things. So it’s definitely organized activity,” he added.
Last month during a press conference to discuss ongoing violence associated with the Floyd protests, Barr said the DoJ had identified a “witch’s brew” of extremist groups and foreign actors that are involving in fomenting non-stop unrest.
“As I told the governors … we understand the distinction between three different sets of actors here,” the AG said. “The large preponderance of those who are protesting are peaceful demonstrators who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
AG BARR: “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. We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides..” pic.twitter.com/c0NKFU3mdY
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 4, 2020
“At some demonstrations, however, there are groups that exploit the opportunity to engage in such crimes as looting,” he added. “And finally, at some demonstrations, there are extremist agitators who are hijacking the protests to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.”
“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,” Barr noted further. “We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.”
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