Little evidence extremists drive U.S. protests: DHS report

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on June 3, 2020 - Duration: 02:32s

Little evidence extremists drive U.S. protests: DHS report

Part of an internal review by the Department of Homeland Security said most of the recent violence and looting linked to civil rights protests in U.S. cities was being driven by opportunists, not organized activists.

This report produced by Zachary Goelman.


Little evidence extremists drive U.S. protests: DHS report

"These are acts of domestic terror" President Donald Trump has blamed leftwing extremist groups for instigating nights of looting and violence in cities across the United States.

And he's named a group called Antifa, short for Anti-Fascist Action, in particular.

"Our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others." But an intelligence assessment seen by Reuters offers limited evidence that organized extremists are behind the turmoil.

In part of a June 1 internal, intelligence assessment of the protests viewed by Reuters, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said most of the violence appears to have been driven by opportunists.

People took to the streets to protest the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer who pinned Floyd's neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes.

In the days that followed, peaceful protests in several U.S. cities descended into looting and clashes with police officers during the night.

As protests intensified over the weekend, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said violence in Minneapolis and other cities was being driven by... "An anarchic and left extremist groups-Far left extremist groups, using Antifa-like tactics.

Many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence." But two Justice Department officials who declined to be identified told Reuters they had seen little evidence to support that claim.

Court and police records from some of the cities where violence erupted - Baltimore, Minneapolis and Washington - show most of the people the police had charged with rioting, property damage and violent offenses over the weekend lived either in those cities or in nearby suburbs.

In Minneapolis, records show just 25 of the 312 people booked into the county jail since May 26 listed addresses outside the state.

The DHS assessment, prepared by the department's intelligence and analysis unit, said there was some evidence based on open-source and DHS reporting that the anarchist movement Antifa may be contributing to the violence, a view shared by some local police departments.

In New York, prosecutors charged three people with trying to use homemade incendiaries to burn police vehicles, but did not identify them as belonging to any group.

The part of the document seen by Reuters did not provide any specific evidence of extremist-driven violence, but noted that white supremacists were working online to increase tensions between protesters and law enforcement by calling for acts of violence against both groups.

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