Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly wants to charge racial justice protesters with sedition, a harsh move that would dramatically raise the stakes in the Trump administration’s crackdown on dissent.
Barr ordered federal prosecutors on a recent conference call to consider charging demonstrators with trying to overthrow the government, not just attacking law enforcement officers or damaging federal buildings, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The move would be a legal tough sell because sedition requires showing that protesters specifically plotted to overthrow the U.S. government as opposed to supporting dramatic reform or even revolutionary ideas.
Barr portrays the left-wing antifa movement as a powerful and organized force behind most of the protests that have spread across the nation.
“No question, antifa is a movement,” Barr said in a recent interview with NBC News. “They say that they are revolutionaries, that this is a revolution.”
Civil rights advocates object to what they call an effort to criminalize revolutionary opinion or speech. They contend there are many laws that adequately punish protesters who act violently without infringing their First Amendment rights.
President Donald Trump, who frequently praises Barr’s tough talk, has repeatedly accused conventional political rivals of “treason” and famously made “lock her up” a signature mantra of his successful 2016 presidential campaign.
Story by Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News.