Attorney General Bill Barr has directed the Bureau of Prisons to send riot teams to Washington, D.C. and Miami to respond to the violent protests and riots that have broken out in the cities and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, Fox News has learned.
A senior Justice Department official told Fox News Monday that Barr has directed the BOP to send Special Operation Response Teams to the two cities. The riot team was present in Miami during protests over the weekend.
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The official told Fox News that all FBI field offices have set up command posts.
Meanwhile, according to law enforcement officials, as a matter of process, local police make arrests during protests and riots, and then the FBI conducts interviews to review whether any federal crimes have been committed—such as the crossing of state lines to conduct violence, arson and possible domestic terrorism.
A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that that process is already underway.
The move comes after President Trump on Sunday said the United States would designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization, as the Trump administration blamed the far-left group for the damage and destruction to cities across the nation amidst Floyd protests.
Barr, on Sunday, said that the Justice Department would treat violence by individuals associated with Antifa as domestic terrorism, as he condemned the group and asserted that protests against police brutality and racial inequality following Floyd’s death had been “hijacked.”
“With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda,” Barr said Sunday. “It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it.”
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Barr added that “the continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” he said.
Meanwhile, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec on Sunday tweeted, reminding that: “it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting.”
“We WILL be enforcing these laws,” she said.
Antifa has been blamed for causing at least some of the violence that has happened in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn., after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes in an incident caught on video.
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The move to send riot teams to D.C. comes as riots escalated in the city Sunday night.
At the direction of the Justice Department, U.S. Marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents were deployed into the streets of D.C. to help beef up security alongside local police, Secret Service and Homeland Security agents.
A senior official in the direct chain of command for defending Washington D.C. told Fox News that at least 50 Secret Service officers were injured Sunday night and that some rioters were throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails.
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Additionally, the entire Washington, D.C. National Guard was being called in to help with the response to protests outside the White House and elsewhere in the nation’s capital, according to two Defense Department officials. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday that she had requested 500 DC Guardsman to assist local law enforcement. Later on Sunday, as the protests escalated, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered the rest of the Guardsman — roughly 1,200 soldiers — to report.
As authorities clashed with demonstrators for the third straight night, the parish house connected to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House was set on fire late Sunday. The parish house contains offices and parlors for gatherings. The basement, which was also torched, is used for childcare during church services, and had recently undergone renovations.
Meanwhile, Barr said that the Justice Department and the FBI’s “independent investigation” into the death of Floyd to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated is “proceeding quickly.”
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.