Attorney General Barr: These Are Riots, ‘They Cannot Reasonably Be Called A Protest’

(Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

In a testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Attorney General William Barr discussed the violent riots in many American cities that have taken place the past two months, explaining that they “cannot reasonably be called a protest.”

“I want to address a different breakdown in the rule of law that we have witnessed over the past two months.” Barr said. “In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims.”

“The current situation in Portland is a telling example. Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property.” Barr continued. “The rioters arrive equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with a defensive mission: to protect the courthouse, home to Article III federal judges, from being overrun and destroyed.”

“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States.” Barr said. “In recent nights, rioters have barricaded the front door of the courthouse, pried plywood off the windows with crowbars, and thrown commercial-grade fireworks into the building in an apparent attempt to burn it down with federal personnel inside.”

“The rioters have started fires outside the building, and then systematically attacked federal law enforcement officers who attempt to put them out—for example, by pelting the officers with rocks, frozen water bottles, cans of food, and balloons filled with fecal matter.” Barr said. “A recent video showed a mob enthusiastically beating a Deputy U.S. Marshal who was trying to protect the courthouse – a property of the United States government funded by this Congress – from further destruction. A number of federal officers have been injured, including one severely burned by a mortar-style firework and three who have suffered serious eye injuries and may be permanently blind.”

Barr also pointed out that the rioters did not make any attempt to “connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform.”