Attorney General William Barr said Saturday that violence in many places around the country appears to have been planned and carried out by “far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics” in the wake of riots over the death of George Floyd.
“Unfortunately with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radical agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” Barr said in a press conference at the Department of Justice:
“In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and leftist extremist groups, far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom traveled outside the state to promote the violence,” Barr continued.
Barr’s comments come shortly after President Donald Trump fingered leftist groups, such as Antifa, for widespread rioting and looting.
“It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!” the president tweeted:“These are ‘Organized Groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd. Sad!” he wrote in a separate tweet
Protests erupted in dozens of cities across the United States overnight as activists called for justice for the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis Gov. Tim Walz called on protesters to disperse early Saturday morning after a nonviolent demonstration there turned to riots, looting, and vandalization.
“The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous,” he said. “You need to go home.”
Walz stated that he spoke with Floyd’s family, who said the violence that had overtaken the city was counterproductive to the message activists were trying to send about the 46-year-old’s death.
Floyd died Monday after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. There have been daily protests since the incident — which was recorded on video — calling for the officer and three others present during the arrest to face charges.
Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder, and bail was set at $500,000. All four officers, including Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Protesters took to the streets across the country Friday night, many beginning as peaceful demonstrations that later took a violent turn. Several buildings were torched while businesses were vandalized and looted.