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Justice Department seeking to charge violent protesters with sedition

Barr urges federal charges for violent protests
Attorney General Barr urges federal charges against violent protesters 09:35

The Justice Department is suggesting that prosecutors consider charging violent protesters where applicable with "seditious conspiracy," among other legal avenues, according to a memo sent Thursday to Attorneys General from Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. The federal sedition law is used rarely but is aimed at charging individuals with overthrowing the government.

Rosen explained in his memo that the statute "does not require proof of a plot... despite what the name might suggest." The department's number two said sedition charges can apply to those who "oppose by force the authority" of the U.S. government; "by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law" of the U.S.; and "by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof."  

Protesters in cities such as Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Portland, Oregon and Kenosha, Wisconsin set fires on federal property and in some cases, clashed with federal agents.

In Portland and Seattle, for example, protesters tried to overtake federal buildings, which Rosen specifically said in the memo would be considered within the parameters of sedition. 

The news comes as the Justice Department confirmed on Thursday that they considered bringing civil charges against Portland city officials amid protests this summer. Protests have been going on for over 100 days and nights in Portland since first erupting after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. 

Federal agents arrived in July under an executive order from President Trump. Protesters and federal agents violently clashed, and city and state officials begged the federal government to remove the federal agents. After weeks of violent clashes that included tear gas being deployed on protesters and dozens of arrests, the federal agents began withdrawing at the end of July. 

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