WASHINGTON ― The Trump administration is forming a Task Force on Violent Anti-Government Extremists that will “develop detailed information about violent anti-government extremist individuals, networks, and movements,” Attorney General William Barr said Friday.
In a memo to top Justice Department officials, Barr said that the nation had seen “anti-government extremists engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order” in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
“Among other lawless conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law.”
“They seek, in essence, to become a law unto themselves by violently opposing those who stand in the way of their particular vision,” Barr continued. “Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion.”
The memo names both antifa and “Boogaloo,” a right-wing organization that has used the cover of demonstrations against police brutality to kill law enforcement. The Washington Post first reported on the existence of the memo.
Barr writes that the extremists might be “fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country.” The Justice Department, he wrote, “will respond to these violent groups in the same way we respond to other organized criminal or terrorist networks ― by disrupting their violent activities and ultimately dismantling their capability to threaten the rule of law.”
Barr has been gearing up to bring the force of the federal government down on protesters as President Donald Trump seeks enhanced penalties against people who destroy monuments — mostly honoring treasonous members of the pro-slavery Confederacy — during anti-racism demonstrations across the United States.
The task force will be headed by U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. Last week, when Barr tried to force out and ultimately fired U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman, he initially tried to replace him with Carpenito.
Read Barr’s memo below.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.