The Journal reports that more than 200 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the protests, including arson, assaults on federal agents and crimes committed with firearms. Dozens of people facing charges were protesting in Portland, Oregon, where protesters staged nightly protests and were violently suppressed by federal agents.The attorney general suggested that prosecutors could even lay a rarely used sedition charge, which means that one person plotted a threat that posed imminent danger to government authority, against protesters. With the First Amendment protecting all general anti-government speech, a charge of sedition would require proof that a person poses imminent danger.
Barr also suggested investigating the charges against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for allowing the city’s self-contained occupied protest zone to be established, The New York Times reported.
The conference call is just the latest means by which Barr appears to have a deep desire to vigorously crack down on protests, aligning more with Donald Trump’s attempts to portray the protests against racial injustice as violent and the need to ” law and order ”to temper them. Over the summer, Trump sent federal troops to cities across the country to respond to protests, spurring multiple clashes between protesters and federal officers.
While police officials have said marginal left and right-wing groups have been implicated in transforming destructive otherwise peaceful protests, Barr has made the antifa movement one of his main targets for prosecution , despite little evidence that there is an organized antifa movement.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, widely discredited rumors of antifa members looting empty homes raised fears of vigilance and prompted law enforcement to ignore misinformation.