The U.S. Department of Justice is overseeing around 500 investigations into violent riots that have occurred nationwide in the last few weeks, Attorney General William Barr has said.
Barr was a guest on an episode of the “Verdict with Ted Cruz” podcast, hosted by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles, and posted on YouTube Thursday.
When Knowles asked, “How do we restore order?” Barr explained that efforts were being launched at both the state and federal level, with the latter stepping up its efforts.
“The federal government is best positioned to address this kind of violence and lawlessness after it occurs because we don’t have FBI agents walking the beat,” said Barr.
“When the real violence started around May 25, 26, so forth, we started using our joint terrorist task forces around the country, and there are 35 of them around the country. It involves all state and local in those jurisdictions and all the federal agencies. And it’s the system we designed to follow terrorists.”
Barr said that federal authorities were now “cranking out investigations” and “indictments against the people who are involved in this violence.”
“We’ve had scores of indictments already for such things as arson, destruction of federal property, things like that. And we have right now about 500 investigations underway,” he continued.
“So it’s picking up pace and we are committed to holding accountable the people who are engaged in this. But we still have to try to stop it before it happens. And that’s where the burden is right now on state and local. And in many places, they’re not stepping up to the plate.”
Cruz asked Barr about how much coordination there was in the protester violence, in which Barr noted that groups like Antifa were suspected of being involved.
“We are seeing strong evidence of coordination in many of these violent episodes. Fundamentally, what you have here is you have demonstrators, some of them go there with the intent of demonstrating. But you have a group of provocateurs and agitators, sometimes a significant group, that try to convert those into violent activity,” Barr said.
“A number of them are associated with the movement called Antifa, but they go by various names, but frequently anarchistic. They want to tear down the country. They are different than many traditional groups.”
Barr assured Cruz and Knowles that “we will go after people” involved in destroying statues and other federal property, saying that such actions came from people “who don’t care about history at all.”
“Because in some places, the local police are not doing an adequate job, we’re going to have to step up the federal effort,” he added.
“We have to do a better job to stop these groups before they are able to do damage to these monuments and statues.”
Following the highly publicized police-involved killing of George Floyd, the U.S. has experienced large-scale protests and violent riots in several cities. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has estimated that the damage done to over 1,000 local businesses and new residential housing for low-income families to be at over $500 million.
Some demonstrations have led to riots and acts of vandalism against businesses, churches, and statues representing historical figures.
During his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, President Donald Trump said that voting for Democratic opponent Joe Biden would be a vote for that type of violent activism.
“Do you want to bow before the left-wing mob, or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?” Trump asked his supporters.
“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control.”