- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2020

Cities that cooperated with the federal government managed to keep racial justice protests peaceful while violent ones, such as Portland, Oregon, told the feds to butt out, FBI and Homeland Security officials told Congress on Thursday.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray also said the bureau is probing funding, tactics and logistics to see whether there is any broader organization behind Antifa and adherents of other anarchist movements — “a salad bar of ideologies,” he said — that are using the racial justice protests as an opportunity for mayhem.

The country is facing new eruptions of violence from Portland to Louisville after authorities in Kentucky announced charging decisions Wednesday stemming from the killing of Breonna Taylor by police serving a warrant earlier this year. That follows protests in thousands of cities this summer, of which more than 500 turned violent, according to one study.

Mr. Wray and the Department of Homeland Security’s No. 2 official, Ken Cuccinelli, said cities that got a handle on those riots were ones quickly willing to cooperate with state and federal law enforcement.

“Where all the partners have really worked together quickly, all on the same page, all with the same mission, all aligned, it’s usually been nipped in the bud,” Mr. Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Wednesday was the 27th day of riots in Portland since late May. Demonstrators tried to break into a police station and lobbed Molotov cocktails at officers.

Mr. Cuccinelli said the chaos is a result of orders to local police not to cooperate with federal officers.

“The result is greater violence,” he said.

He said a “peace through strength” approach has worked, with cities willing to deploy enough law enforcement able to preserve space for peaceful protests, while protests devolved into violence in cities that have struggled with responses.

The two federal officials were testifying to the Senate committee on threats facing the homeland. Also joining them was National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller.

Mr. Miller didn’t field many questions, which committee Chairman Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said was telling.

“The unrest, the rioting, the lawlessness, the anarchy on the streets of America are just posing a more pressing risk and a greater risk to our overall democracy,” Mr. Johnson said.

Sen. Gary C. Peters of Michigan, the top Democrat on the panel, said the focus should be on White supremacy, which he called “one of the largest terrorist threats to American safety.”

He said the administration is downplaying that threat, and Sen. Jacky Rosen, Nevada Democrat, accused Mr. Cuccinelli of “softening” a Homeland Security assessment that has not been released.

“That is not true,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. He said the assessment will show White supremacist terrorist attacks are more lethal, “at least in recent years.”

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, recounted his own experience last month when he left the White House on the night President Trump gave his convention nomination acceptance speech and was attacked by a left-wing mob.

“When we were attacked, the head of Black Lives Matter in Louisville had this to say. She said, ‘We can see the fear in their faces, and that’s how we want them to live,’” he said. “Their goal is terrorism. They’re admitting it.”

He said that should spur a federal investigation and that corporations celebrating Black Lives Matter, and in some cases giving money, should take note.

“In reality, it’s a group that is funding terror and funding terrorists to go from city to city,” he said.

Mr. Paul said after police got him and his wife to their hotel, one of the officers was assaulted and had to get stitches.

A man was arrested and charged but released on his own recognizance. He was from out of state.

Mr. Wray said protesters who travel to other states “are often some of the most serious offenders.”

The Justice Department said Thursday that more than 300 people face federal charges stemming from crimes committed during recent demonstrations. About 80 of them face arson or explosives charges.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Delaware Democrat, wondered what has changed to spur the increase in domestic terrorism. Mr. Wray blamed social media.

“You know, the angry person who wants to lash out who’s living at home in mom’s basement maybe before was all by himself,” the director said. “Now he’s talking to similarly situated people all over the country and, indeed, all over the world and is more likely to get encouraged and galvanized and to take hateful and of foreign ideas and turn them into dangerous, all too often lethal violence.”

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