Justice Department records show no links to antifa in protests: report
Justice Department records show no links to antifa within the federal cases relating to the protests over George Floyd’s death, NPR reported Tuesday.
An NPR review of court documents for 51 individuals who are facing federal charges related to the demonstrations found no alleged connections to the anti-fascist movement.
The lack of alleged links seemingly contradicts comments by Attorney General William Barr and President Trump singling out of anti-fascists for inciting violence during the protests.
Out of the 51 cases brought to the department so far, 20 involve allegations relating to arson, typically of government property or buildings, 16 involve allegations relating to illegal possession of a firearm, usually by a felon, and eight involve allegedly inciting a riot or civil disorder, according to NPR.
The only mention of an extremist group in court documents is in a case against three Nevada men who allegedly belong to the right-wing “Boogaloo” movement, which aims to incite a civil war. These three were charged with plotting violence in the demonstrations in Las Vegas.
Former federal prosecutors told NPR that if the government had a sign that individuals had alleged ties or an interest in an extremist movement, it would be included in the charging documents used during a bail hearing. NPR noted, however, that this does not mean the connections couldn’t be discovered later in the investigation.
The federal cases ranged across 18 states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Utah, Tennessee, New York, Nevada and Ohio.
The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
On Monday, the attorney general told Fox News’s Bret Baier that a lack of cases against alleged antifa activists does not mean they were not participating in the violence.
“We have some investigations underway, very focused investigations on certain individuals that relate to antifa,” Barr said. “But in the initial phase of identifying people and arresting them, they were arrested for crimes that don’t require us to identify a particular group or don’t necessitate that.”
Barr has vowed to prosecute the “extremist agitators” involved in the recent protests, pointing specifically at those connected with antifa.
Trump has also blamed antifa activists for the violence that erupted within the demonstrations, saying on May 31 that he would designate antifa as a terrorist organization.
But experts say the antifa movement is not a solidified group and is more a liquid movement of people opposing fascism without central leadership.
When asked about the alleged lack of leadership, Barr said “there are people who could be characterized as leaders in any given situation.”
Trump also claimed in a tweet on Tuesday that a 75-year-old man who was shoved by Buffalo, N.Y., police “could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” sparking backlash.