Barr instructed federal prosecutors to charge protesters with ‘sedition’: report
Attorney General Bill Barr also allegedly warned that violent protests could become worse
Attorney General William Barr told U.S. prosecutors that he wanted violent protesters to be charged with sedition or the overthrow of the US government, according to a new report.
Barr advocated for the fullest extent of the law to be unleashed against protesters during a conference call last week, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The death of George Floyd in May while in the custody of Minneapolis police led to widespread Black Lives Matter protests, some of which became violent as protesters clashed with cops.
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Floyd died after now-former police officer Derek Chauvin placed a knee on his neck. Some of the demonstrations around the country after Floyd’s death led to the destruction of property, vandalism, and fires being set to police cars.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in June to protect buildings and monuments in response to the wave of protests. The Trump administration declared the Department of Justice would “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under federal law,” any person who incited violence or damaged government property.
As theGrio reported, Trump has made law and order an essential feature of his re-election bid. He has threatened to deploy the military to cities to quell the protests.
Read More: AG William Barr says Jacob Blake shooting may have been justified
“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said over the summer. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”
Barr is also said to have sounded the alarm about the upcoming elections worsening the current climate. Barr’s remedy was to charge violent protesters with a litany of federal charges, even when states ones applied, such as the rarely used sedition charge.
Legal experts claimed to the WSJ that it would be hard for the nation’s top prosecutor to prove a conspiracy for government overthrow using sedition. It would also run afoul of the First Amendment which guarantees the public the right of protest.
According to the WSJ, more than 200 people have been charged with federal crimes as a result of the protests. Arson, assaulting federal officers, or gun crimes have been among the charges.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice has not commented on the veracity of the WSJ report.
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