Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday questioned how much blame should be directed at Antifa for the violent protests and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
Mr. Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Antifa has played “a part” in the civil unrest. But the South Carolina Republican noted that rioting and looting happened during protests long before the militant anti-fascist group became a movement.
“We will try to find out how organized this violence is,” Mr. Graham said. “But I am old enough to remember 1968, and Antifa was not around in 1968, that I know of.”
“What happens when lawlessness occurs and people get mad and angry and someone breaks a window, other people follow in kind,” he said.
“This is a phenomenon that has happened for a very long time,” he continued. “When order breaks down, people who would normally not engage in disorder do, and we need to get a grip on it in terms of order in the streets.”
“But the overwhelming issue for us is after we stop the rioting, which we will, is what are you going to do about the problem that led to the protests,” the senator said.
Mr. Graham’s comments came at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal.
President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr have pointed the finger at Antifa for the chaos that has erupted in cities around the country.
Mr. Trump over the weekend designated Antifa a terrorist organization.
Mr. Graham promised to review the use of force by police, saying hearings could come as early as June 16.