Barr: Floyd’s death was ‘terrible,’ but the reaction to it has been ‘extreme’
Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the reaction to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody has been “extreme” and blamed it for an increase in violent crime in U.S. cities.
Barr’s comments came as he spoke alongside President Trump during his announcement that he will be sending a “surge” of law enforcement officials to cities “plagued by violent crime,” following the Trump administration’s controversial decision to send federal agents to cities amid protests sparked by Floyd’s death.
“We had that terrible death in Minneapolis,” Barr said, referring to Floyd’s death in police custody, according to CNN.
“But then we had this extreme reaction that has demonized police and called for the defunding of police departments,” Barr continued. “And what we have seen then is a significant increase in violent crime in many cities. And this rise is a direct result of the attack on the police forces and the weakening of police forces.”
Nationwide protests over racial inequality and police brutality have broken out following the killing of Floyd in late May.
Trump’s Wednesday announcement expands a Justice Department program launched earlier this month known as “Operation Legend” that is meant to address violent crime in Kansas City, Mo. Protesters in Kansas City have taken to the streets to demand an end to the program.
Trump said Wednesday he will be sending federal law enforcement officials into Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) urged Trump not to send federal agents to her city in a letter Monday amid reports that the administration was planning to do so.
In Portland, Ore., federal agents have reportedly apprehended protesters without identifying themselves, and some have been held for hours without being charged or read their Miranda rights. Local officials have blamed the federal agents for causing more violence in the city and have called for their removal.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) sued federal agencies last week over the detention of protesters, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a similar lawsuit against federal agencies over deploying the agents to quell demonstrators in Portland.
The Trump administration is also facing a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other civil rights groups over the forcible clearing of Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., last month.