Court Documents Show Most Arrested in Nationwide Protests Not Trump’s Urban Antifa


By Julietta Bisharyan

WASHINGTON – A report written by the Associated Press strongly suggests that the majority of people arrested during nationwide protests against racial injustice were not violent urban left-wing radicals, as President Donald Trump claims, but rather suburban adults from the neighborhoods that Trump vows to protect from the violence in his reelection campaign.

A review of thousands of court document pages reveal that only a few of those charged appear to be affiliated with highly organized extremist groups.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has called his prosecutors to place federal charges on protestors who caused violence, suggesting that rarely used sedition charges could be applied. Likewise, the Department of Justice has pushed for detention despite the risks of incarceration during a pandemic and with prisons already releasing those at high-risk of COVID-19.

Defense attorneys and civil rights activists across the nation have questioned why the Department of Justice has taken on these cases to begin with, when most belong in state court, where defendants would get lighter sentences, even if convicted. Some argue that it is being done to discourage future demonstrations.

“It is highly unusual, and without precedent in recent American history,” said Ron Kuby, a longtime attorney who has represented clients over the decades in protest-related incidents. “Almost all of the conduct that’s being charged is conduct that, when it occurs, is prosecuted at the state and local level.”

In one case in Utah, regarding a police car burning, prosecutors had to defend why they were bringing arson charges in federal court. Their reasoning was that the patrol car was used in interstate commerce.

Out of over 300 arrested, there are about 286 defendants; others have had their charges dropped.

Those who have been arrested range anywhere from far-leftists with anti-government views to far-right protestors. Some have been accused of using the protests as an opportunity to commit crime.

Still, many have had no criminal records or ties with antifa, an anti-fascist protest movement opposed to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology, that Trump has repeatedly called a terrorist organization.

“I know about antifa, and I know about the radical left, and I know how violent they are and how vicious they are, and I know how they are burning down cities run by Democrats,” Trump said at his NBC town hall.

Although a vast, vast majority of the protests have been peaceful, Trump has cast the protests as violent and lawless, asserting that the federal government must step in to stymie the chaos.

In many of the cases, the government has tried to keep protestors behind bars as they await their trials during the pandemic. According to a tracker compiled by the AP and The Marshall Project, there have been more than 16,000 positive cases in the federal prison system.

In certain cases, prosecutors have even appealed judge’s orders to release defendants, when pre-trial detention is generally reserved only for those who pose threat to the community or are at risk of fleeing.

And while some defendants do hold radical or anti-government beliefs, prosecutors have provided little evidence of any affiliations they have with organized extremist groups.

Out of the thousands of pages of court documents, the only mention of antifa is in a case from Boston in which authorities state that an FBI Gang Task Force member was investigating “suspected ANTIFA activity associated with the protests” when a man fired at him and other officers. Authorities have not confirmed whether or not the man accused of firing the shots is a member of antifa.

Over 40 percent of those facing federal charges are white. Most are men and more than two-thirds are under the age of 30. More than a quarter have been charged with arson. More than a dozen are accused of civil disorder, and others are charged with burglary and failing to comply with a federal order.

“If you really want to address these issues, and we stand in solidarity with you, address them in Royal Oak … address them in Dearborn, address them in Grosse Point,” Rev. Wendell Anthony of the NAACP said in May. “Don’t come down to Detroit and tear the city up and then go back home. That’s putting another knee on the neck of Black folk because we got to live here.”

According to court documents, three of the men arrested are far-right extremists, members of the “Boogaloo” movement plotting to overthrow the government. They had been stockpiling military-grade weapons and hunting for the right public event to unleash violence for weeks before George Floyd’s death.

“There was a tremendous amount of anger and unrest and activity that was objectively unlawful,” Kuby said. “There were objections about law enforcement being militarized, but you didn’t see following the quelling of those demonstrations any significant federal law enforcement involvement.”

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22 thoughts on “Court Documents Show Most Arrested in Nationwide Protests Not Trump’s Urban Antifa”

        1. Keith Olsen

          The AP is left leaning these days.

          AP is a source that AllSides has struggled to rate, due to its content seeming to toe the line between Center and Lean Left. People on the right may be more likely to see AP’s content as clearly Lean Left. While AP’s news and world reporting is largely Center, AllSides has found AP often includes subjective, leftward analysis in hard news reports and omits sources in its political writing; in addition, its fact checks are biased to the left

    1. Ron Oertel

      The source below shows the actual attack.

      A different video shows all the stuff that was thrown at the speakers.

      Does anyone on this blog think this is “o.k.”, or do they want to compare it with some other nonsense (for the sake of some stupid argument)?

      Where’s the condemnation, regarding this type of thing? The lack thereof deeply disgusts me – regardless of political views. But one side (in particular) seems to deny it.

        1. Keith Olsen

          Speaking of data, how do we know that more of these arrested rioters weren’t ANTIFA members?  I mean do ANTIFA members always identify themselves as so?  Does the police always look for political affiliations when they arrest someone?  I highly doubt it in either case.  Left wingers were arrested for rioting and booked by the police, ANTIFA or not.

  1. Ron Oertel

    Just point out that responding to aggregate-level data with an anecdote for the most part is not a valid argument.

    The problem with this entire article (and premise) is that it assumes that those committing crimes are being arrested.  One look at any of the more-violent protest videos around the country shows that isn’t necessarily true.

    A lot of these people wear masks – NOT due to Covid.

    Interestingly enough, some are now relying upon arrest statistics to “prove” their claim, while at other times decrying those statistics for a different reason (which some might argue is ALSO politically-motivated).

      1. Ron Oertel

        representative sample of those who committed crimes. That’s true.

        No evidence of that.

        Are you suggesting that this can be extrapolated to estimate the total number of crimes occurring at these protests? That certainly is not being suggested by the article.

      2. David Greenwald

        But I think if there was a large number of antifa involved, you would see that showing up more than it has. I have talked to DA’s directly in a few of these communities, and they are just not seeing activists in the people arrested, most of them are people attempting to take advantage of the chaos.

      3. Ron Oertel

        That is, the article is presenting arrest records as “evidence” of who is committing crimes, and you’re doubling-down on that by stating that arrest records show a “representative sample”.

        I see your other point, but this goes back to how they “classify” people, and whether or not they’re actually arresting people via “representative sample” of those committing crimes. Again, there’s no evidence of that.

        Seems to me that a significant number of protestors (or “attendees”) are committing crimes of one type or another, without getting arrested. (Even if they’re not necessarily walking down the street with a TV set after looting a store.)

        Again, a lot of these people wear masks (apparently NOT due to Covid).

        1. David Greenwald

          It’s a legitimate practice either for journalism or academia. You generally understand that you make a clear assumption (representative sample) and that there is some error. But then again, in this case, the belief is that if there were a lot of antifa or activists committing the crime, they would show up in the charging. Heck there is video all over the place, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

      4. Ron Oertel

        But to my primary point, I think a lot of people on “one side” of the political spectrum would be outraged if the guy who had his teeth knocked (and the crowd) out had the opposite political views. 

        That’s what I object to – the hypocrisy, and the politically-motivated “statistical evidence”.

        Around these parts (at least), only one side is overwhelmingly engaging in violence. In fact, there aren’t many representatives of the “other side”, in the first place (as demonstrated by what happened in San Francisco, for example).

        Some of it predates BLM, as well.

  2. Ron Oertel

    But then again, in this case, the belief is that if there were a lot of antifa or activists committing the crime, they would show up in the charging. Heck there is video all over the place, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

    Yeah – I’ve watched some of those videos, along with reports that “no arrests” (or very few) were made.

    It’s as if the police have given up. They are overwhelmed, and are likely trying to avoid further problems (for communities AND themselves).

    It is the height of foolishness to assume that 300 arrest records are a representative sample of what’s been occurring across the country.

    By the way, are arrest records a “representative sample” of those committing crimes in regard to racial concerns?

    You can’t have it both ways.

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