Just days after promising to go after Black Lives Matter protesters on federal terrorism charges, Attorney General Bill Barr is doing just that this weekend with arrests and impending prosecutions, starting with federal charges in Washington DC.
The Justice Department has charged four men with destruction of federal property in connection with the attempt on Monday to bring down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park near the White House, the US Attorney for Washington, DC and other law enforcement officials announced Saturday.
The attempt to bring down the statue was stopped.
The DOJ alleged Lee Cantrell, Connor Judd, Ryan Lane and Graham Lloyd, along with other unidentified people, damaged and attempted to tear down the statue on Monday. In a criminal complaint, authorities further alleged Judd was seen on video attempting to pull down the statue, and Lane was seen on video tying a rope to the statue and pulling on another rope tied to to it, according to a DOJ press release.
The department also alleged that Lloyd was seen destroying the wheels of cannons located at the statue's base as well as pulling on ropes trying to bring down the statue.
The statue of Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, has become controversial because of his harsh treatment of Native Americans.
Judd is the only one of the four men charged who had been apprehended as of Saturday, according to the Justice Department. He was arrested Friday and appeared in DC Superior Court on Saturday, according to the release. His case will be transferred to US District Court where he will make his initial appearance on Monday, the DOJ said.
CNN is attempting to reach the four men charged for comment.
President Donald Trump re-tweeted the announcement of the charges and has re-tweeted several law enforcement posts of posters of men wanted for questioning regarding the incident. Since the Monday incident, he has repeatedly criticized the protesters who tried to topple the statue.
"The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation's capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated," acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement.
Again, the move is clear: by equating these acts to acts of deadly terrorism by armed white supremacist Boogaloo insurgents, Barr is hoping to destroy the protests and support for the protesters.
More terrorism charges were filed in Oklahoma City, this time by state officials, taking their cue for Barr.
Protesters blamed for the violence that broke out in Oklahoma City the last weekend in May were charged Friday with terrorism, rioting and assault.
If convicted of the felony offenses, they could be sentenced to years in prison.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater made the decisions himself on the charges in a get-tough approach meant to deter others from going too far during protests in the future.
"This is not Seattle," Prater said Friday. "We're not putting up with this lawlessness here."
Also charged Friday were five defendants identified as involved in the painting of murals in downtown Oklahoma City this week. They are accused in an incitement to riot charge of interfering with a police sergeant who was trying to take a homicide witness for an interview at police headquarters Tuesday.
In court affidavits filed with the charges, police claimed that several agitators during the May 30 protest stayed to the center to keep the crowd in an agitated state.
"Several people were carrying flags that were identified as belonging to the following groups: Antifa, Soviet Union (communism), American Indian Movement, Anarcho-Communism (solid red) and the original Oklahoma flag ... currently adopted by Oklahoma Socialists," police reported.
"Several known supporters of anti-establishment organizations were present in the crowd."
Expect a lot more of this in the days and weeks ahead. The message is that protesters risk long prison sentences for opposing Trump. It's a prime fascist tactic in regimes, and we've reached that point now.