Attorney General William Barr called ongoing violence in U.S. cities “domestic terrorism” in a statement released Sunday.
Sparked by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police Department custody last week, demonstrations that began in that city have sprung up in several other major population centers. Some protests, including those in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., have turned violent as rioters burned buildings, looted shops, and clashed with police.
Barr’s statement contends that what was once “the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests” have become “hijacked by violent and radical elements” consisting of “outside radicals and agitators” who are “exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.”
Attorney General William P. Barr’s Statement on Riots and Domestic Terrorism https://t.co/rsnFxVDiPa
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) May 31, 2020
“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it,” the statement read. “The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.”
Barr argued that such unlawful activity “undercuts” the ability to “address legitimate grievances” and actually works at “preventing reconciliation.”
“Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed,” he wrote before promising to continue deploying the National Guard “where necessary” to “reestablish law and order.” (RELATED: Tucker Laments Double Standard: ‘Normal’ People Must Follow ‘Countless New Rules,’ Rioters ‘Get To Ignore’ Them)
“Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law,” the statement continued. “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”
The attorney general’s statement comes after President Donald Trump announced that Antifa will be officially designated as a terrorist organization.