By: JV Staff
On Friday, Attorney General William Barr called for the establishment of a task force to tackle “anti-government extremists” who commit violence during protests against police brutality and purported racism that have been gripped the United States, according to a Reuters report.
In a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors released by the Department of Justice, Barr said that political extremists had “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” including attacking police officers, damaging property and threatening innocent people, as was reported by Reuters.
Since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, protestors representing the Black Lives Matter movement and other radical groups have taken to the streets of every major city in the US calling for attention to be focused on what they believe is systemic racism.
Although largely peaceful, some demonstrators have turned violent, which President Trump and his allies have blamed on left-wing extremists among the protesters, as was reported by Reuters.
Reuters reported that Barr said the extremists “profess a variety of ideologies and that some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion.
Barr named the militant anti-government movement known as the “boogaloo,” as well as the left-wing antifa as among those posing “continuing threats of lawlessness,” as was reported by Reuters.
Antifa (Anti-Fascist) is an amorphous movement whose adherents use militant tactics to oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist, according to the Reuters report.
“Boogaloo” members believe the United States will enter into a second civil war, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, as was reported by Reuters. While the ideology itself is not white supremacist, some white supremacist groups have embraced it, the Anti-Defamation League has found.
AP reported at the end of May that as demonstrations spread from Minneapolis to the White House, New York City and overseas, federal law enforcement officials insisted far-left groups were stoking violence. Meanwhile, experts who track extremist groups also reported seeing evidence of the far-right at work.
Investigators were also tracking online interference and looking into whether foreign agents were behind the effort. Officials have seen a surge of social media accounts with fewer than 200 followers created in the last month, a textbook sign of a disinformation effort.
The accounts have posted graphic images of the protests, material on police brutality and material on the coronavirus pandemic that appeared designed to inflame tensions across the political divide, according to three administration officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss investigations.
The investigations are an attempt to identify the network of forces behind some of the most widespread outbreak of civil unrest in the U.S. in decades.
Pandemic-weary Americans were already angry — about COVID-19 deaths, lockdown orders and tens of millions of people out of work
Federal prosecutors filed charges early this month against three alleged members of the movement accused of plotting to cause violence and destruction at a Las Vegas protest.
The new task force would be headed by two U.S. attorneys, from Texas and New Jersey, Barr said.
It would include members from different law enforcement agencies but would “particularly draw on the capabilities of the FBI,” he said.