Attorney General William Barr on Friday directed the Justice Department to form a task force dedicated to combating “anti-government extremists,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post, raising the stakes in the government’s response to nationwide protests.
Barr argued in the memo that anti-government agitators had infiltrated peaceful demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism and “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order.”
“Among other lawless conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law. … Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction and coercion.”
In the memo, Barr identified members of the right-wing “Boogaloo” movement and the anti-fascist movement known as antifa as the top targets of the task force.
Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, will head the task force, which will also include representatives from the FBI and other prosecutors’ offices.
The task force’s mission will be to develop information about “extremist individuals, networks, and movements,” share data with local authorities and provide training to local prosecutors on how to wage cases against anti-government extremists.
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