US Attorney General Bill Barr, the country’s top law enforcement official, told federal prosecutors that protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism could be charged with a rarely used sedition law, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Barr told federal district attorneys in a conference call last week that a law against plotting to overthrow the US government was among charges they could use against participants in violent protests.
“Such a sedition charge has been used with extreme rarity and the most recent example, a case brought against a Michigan armed militia group, failed in 2012 due to weak evidence,” reports Yahoo News.
“President Donald Trump has called for the Justice Department to heavily punish the protesters, whom he and Barr have labeled extreme left anarchists,” the outlet noted. “While protest-related crimes usually bring only local charges, under Barr’s guidance district attorneys, federal prosecutors have charged more than 200 demonstrators with crimes that bring heftier penalties.”
Asked about the report on Barr during a White House press briefing Wednesday, Trump said his government will treat demonstrators toughly.
“If you have a violent demonstration, yes, we will put it down very very quickly,” he said, adding: “And I think the American public wants to see that.”
Trump threatens military force against rioters on election night: "We will put it down very, very quickly if there is. And I think the American public wants to see that." pic.twitter.com/7zDZxMUrSK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 16, 2020