- Attorney General William Barr said Saturday that peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd were being co-opted by radical organizations that were turning them violent.
- Without providing evidence, Barr claimed the violent protests were being “planned, organized, and driven by anarchistic and far-left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from out of state to promote the violence.”
- Earlier Saturday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he believed approximately 80% of demonstrators in his state were coming from other states.
- Also Saturday, Trump similarly blamed Antifa and the “Radical Left” for the demonstrations.
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US Attorney General William Barr on Saturday said peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, were being hijacked by radical out of state “anarchist and far-left extremist” groups.
“The outrage of our national community about what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is real and legitimate,” Barr, who on Friday announced the Justice Department was investigating Floyd’s death, said in a press release. “Accountability for his death must be addressed, and is being addressed, through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level.”
Protests, which have often turned violent, have erupted in Minnesota and more than a dozen other states across the US since Tuesday in response to the death of Floyd, who died Monday in Minneapolis police custody after video shows a white police officer kneeling on his neck for five minutes.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s nexck, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three officers who were with him were fired but have not been charged.
At a press conference Saturday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he believed approximately 80% of people participating in protests in the state were coming from other states.
"We understand that the catalyst for this was Minnesota and Minnesotans inability to deal with inequality, inequities, and quite honestly, the racism that has persisted. I am not denying that," he said.
Walz added the state would begin to release the names of some of the protestors so the media could start "tracing that history" of the protestors and find out what they were doing on the "dark web."
While St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III said at the press conference that all of the people arrested Friday night in the city of St. Paul came from other states, he later backtracked and said this statement was incorrect. He had been given inaccurate information during a police briefing, he said later Saturday, according to CBS News' David Begnaud.
Barr said - without providing evidence or examples - that the chaotic demonstrations were the result of "groups of outside radicals and agitators" who were "exploiting the situation."
Specifically, Barr said the violence had been "planned, organized, and driven by anarchistic and far-left extremists," and said protestors were using "Antifa-like tactics" and traveling from out of state. Antifa - short for "anti-fascist" - describes a leaderless network of activists that seek to combat right-wing authoritarianism and white supremacy, according to a previous Insider report.
President Donald Trump made a similar sentiment in a tweet earlier Saturday.
"It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don't lay the blame on others," he said, also not providing evidence.
In another tweet, Trump said that crossing state lines to incite violence was a federal crime.
"Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the limited power of our Military and many arrests," he warned.
Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME! Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
"In that regard, it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting. We will enforce these laws," Barr said Saturday, echoing the president's tweet.