The Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against more than 300 people who allegedly committed crimes since the end of May “under the guise” of peaceful protests.
The hundreds of people were arrested in 29 states and are accused of federal crimes ranging from attempted murder, assault on a law enforcement officer, damaging federal property, and arson, the Department of Justice said Thursday. “Violent opportunists have exploited these demonstrations in various ways,” a press release states.
Forty of the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide have filed federal charges “committed adjacent to or under the guise of peaceful demonstrations,” according to the agency.
Of the more than 300 people arrested, roughly 80 were charged with crimes involving arson and the use of explosives.
In one incident in Virginia Beach, a man allegedly said he would set fire to a church frequented by black people, the report states. In another case, this one in Washington, D.C., a man suffered severe burns after he became engulfed in flames shortly after pouring “a liquid from a gas can onto three U.S. Supreme Court Police vehicles,” the agency said.
Over 300 People Facing Federal Charges For Crimes Committed During Nationwide Demonstrations https://t.co/db0xW3Rr0Q
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) September 24, 2020
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A federal arson conviction carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
35 people were charged in connection with assaults against law enforcement officers, all but one of which are alleged to have occurred in Oregon.
A man in Portland allegedly attacked a U.S. Marshal deputy with a baseball bat in his neck, back, and shoulder after approaching him from behind. Meanwhile, in the only other case outside of Oregon, a man in Boston fired 11 bullets at federal and local law enforcement officers, the DOJ said.
“In some instances, these individuals are alleged to have set fires to local businesses as well as city and federal property, which will regrettably incur millions of taxpayer dollars to repair damages to the Portland Courthouse, Nashville Courthouse, Minneapolis Police Third Precinct, Seattle Police East Precinct, and local high school in Minnesota; and, to replace police cruisers in South Carolina, Washington, Rhode Island, Georgia, Utah, and other states,” the release states.
Any person convicted of “felony assault of a federal officer with a dangerous weapon” also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years. About 15 people were charged with allegedly damaging federal property, the department said. Meanwhile, 30 others were hit with charges linked to civil disorder.
“Through these acts, these individuals have shown minimal regard to their communities and for the safety of others and themselves.”