WASHINGTON: US Attorney General Bill Barr told federal prosecutors that protesters demonstrating against police and racism could be charged with sedition, US media reported Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal said Barr, the country’s top law enforcement official, told federal district attorneys in a conference call last week that a law against plotting to overthrow the US government was among charges they could use against participants in violent protests.
Such a sedition charge has been used with extreme rarity and the most recent example, a case brought against a Michigan armed militia group, failed in 2012 due to weak evidence.
CNN and the New York Times confirmed the recommendation by Barr.
President Donald Trump has called for the Justice Department to heavily punish the protesters, whom he and Barr have labelled extreme left anarchists.
While protest-related crimes usually bring only local charges, under Barr’s guidance district attorneys, federal prosecutors have charged more than 200 demonstrators with crimes that bring heftier penalties.
Asked about the report on Barr, Trump said his government will treat demonstrators toughly.
“If you have a violent demonstration, yes, we will put it down very very quickly,“ he said, adding: “And I think the American public wants to see that.” –AFP