AG Barr: 'It Was Violence for Violence Sake' in Kenosha, As 'Hard-Core Radicals' Poured In

By Susan Jones | September 2, 2020 | 5:48am EDT
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr step off Air Force One following a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr step off Air Force One following a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Attorney General Bill Barr said after the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake last month, the Justice Department learned that "Violent instigators were coming to Kenosha."

"They were coming from California, Washington State, a lot from Chicago, and they were coming up to Kenosha. So we expected matters to get worse," Barr told a roundtable on community safety in Kenosha, led by President Trump.

Barr said the violence, arson and looting are "not a legitimate response to a police shooting."

And as it progressed, it became more and more distant from the issue of racial justice. It was violence for violence sake. And once again, we saw the hijacking of a protest by a hard-core group of radicals who were carrying out, planning, a coordinated violent attack on law enforcement, on public property, and on private property. And that can't be tolerated.

But these are the same people--many of them who came from out of town--out of 175 arrests 100 were from out of town. And some--these are the same people using the same tactics that have been used in various cities: Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, now Kenosha, Portland.

And they use these black bloc tactics, throwing projectiles at police -- and literally trying to inflict injuries on police -- arson, and rioting. They came equipped as even the mayor of Washington acknowledged, they come equipped to fight. And it's completely unacceptable, and the state is the first line of defense.

If local leaders are committed to keeping the public safe, it can be done. And while it was slow in getting off the starting block, this is an example that when you have the local political leadership backing the police, you have the state willing to put in the resources in terms of National Guard, and the federal government able to come up with support such as the FBI, the Marshalls, and ATF who have some special skills and forensic ability to help -- there will be peace on the streets.

Barr promised there will be "accountability."

"What people don't see is that in all of these cities, there are task forces of federal and state officers reviewing all the video that we can get our hands on. And when we are able to identify people who committed crimes in these riots--going all the way back to the beginning--whether they're burning police cars or throwing rocks at people which are deadly--they will be prosecuted.

"That's a large-scale effort and it's going to continue," Barr said.

Barr also mentioned that all officer-involved shootings are reviewed by local authorities to ensure that reasonable force was used.

"And when there are questions raised about it, the federal government also, the Justice Department, also reviews it. And like all procedures and processes in our country, we do it under due process. And we try to reach a dispassionate, reasoned decision based on an analysis of the situation.

"We do not allow judgments to be reached because of mob violence. We cannot have mob violence in this country make our decisions over the fate of individuals when their actions are challenged."

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