Politics

Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy Slams DOJ For ‘Kid-Gloved’ Treatment Of BLM Arsonist

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy released a statement Thursday criticizing the gentle treatment the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) gave the arsonist, Montez Terriel Lee, who killed Oscar Stewart with a fire he set during the 2020 George Floyd riots.

In a memo sent Wednesday, Roy demanded the DOJ and the former Acting U.S. Attorney for Minnesota W. Anders Folk explain their decision to ask for a lighter sentence for Lee, according to a report by the Washington Free Beacon who first obtained Roy’s letter.

“The document reads as if it were written by the defendant’s counsel rather than the prosecuting attorney,” said Roy’s letter. “Your office advocated for a significant downward departure from the Sentencing Guidelines, asking for a term of imprisonment of 144 months with a guideline range of 235-240 months.”

Roy argued in the letter that requesting the sentencing for Lee to be lowered from 20 years to 12 years shows that Folk “took pains to explain away and justify [Lee’s] actions.” (RELATED: Manhattan DA Reverses Policies Amid Backlash Over ‘Soft On Crime’ Approach)

“It would appear that Mr. Lee is enjoying the benefits of kid-gloved, preferential treatment in this case because he committed violence in furtherance of the preferred political views of your office and the current administration,” wrote Roy.

Lee admitted to setting the fire that destroyed the Max It Pawn Shop but did not plead guilty to killing Steward because he claimed he checked the building for people before setting the fire, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The U.S. District Court of Minnesota’s sentencing memo wrote that “the value of human life is incalculable … no price tag can be put on it, and no amount of punishment can equal the loss.”

Folk admits in the memo that recommending to the judge to lower the minimum sentencing in Lee’s case “is not ordinarily appropriate” but argued, “this is an extraordinary case.”

“Mr. Lee’s motive for setting the fire is a foremost issue,” said the memo. “Mr. Lee credibly states that he was in the streets to protest unlawful police violence against black men, and there is no basis to disbelieve the statement.”

Lee blamed police brutality and race as the reason for starting the fire, according to the memo. Lee said he was “caught up in the fury of the mob after living as a black man watching his peers suffer at the hands of police.”

In defense of Lee, Folk quoted Martin Luther King Jr’s 1966 interview with Mike Wallace where King said, “we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Folk claimed that Lee was merely “angry, frustrated, and disenfranchised,” and his actions tried to give a “voice to those feelings.”

Roy asked Folk and the DOJ to explain their logic behind lowering the sentencing recommendations for Lee when “the principle of equal justice under the law demands that favor not be given based on political views.”

“As a member of the House Judiciary Committee with oversight over the Department of Justice, I sincerely hope that was not the case; but given the words and actions of this Attorney General, his FBI, and his federal prosecutors over the course of the past year, I would not find it surprising in the least,” wrote Roy.