Barr deploying federal riot teams to DC, Miami amid escalating George Floyd protests

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week MORE is reportedly directing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to deploy riot teams to Washington, D.C., and Miami as part of the Trump administration's response to protests that have escalated in the days after an unarmed African American man died in police custody. 

A senior Justice Department official told USA Today and The Washington Post that the FBI also summoned its elite Hostage Rescue Unit to D.C. The official added that every FBI field office was setting up command posts and that they would work with local police to possibly bring charges against individuals who traveled from out of state to participate in rioting. 

The FBI will review whether those in custody committed any federal crimes, the official noted. 

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The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately return requests for comment from The Hill. 

The moves from Barr and the FBI come just a day after mostly peaceful protests in D.C. and other cities erupted into violent clashes between some demonstrators and police that night. 

Protests near the White House devolved into chaos ahead of the city's 11 p.m. curfew, with police deploying tear gas and flash bangs to disperse crowds. Several fires were reported, including at the AFL-CIO's national headquarters and the historic St. John's Church, a landmark where presidents have attended services since the 1800s. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced earlier Monday that the city was imposing a 7 p.m. curfew due to the escalating violence. She said that “significant damage” had been done to the downtown areas and implored residents to "be part of the solution, not part of the destruction.”

During a press conference, Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham said that 88 people were arrested Sunday night, with half facing felony rioting charges. 

Tensions have boiled over in cities across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death. The 46-year-old died last week after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while arresting him. Footage of the arrest showed the officer keeping his knee pinned on Floyd's neck as Floyd said, "I can't breathe."

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Some protests have resulted in significant destruction of public and private property, causing numerous cities to impose curfews and some states to deploy the National Guard. 

Barr said in a statement Sunday that law enforcement would be directed to find and charge the "violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest." 

"Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed," he said. 

Newsham said Monday that he believed some of the riots appeared “organized in nature.” He did not elaborate on which organizations may have been involved.