Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said the Justice Department was monitoring the far-left movement Antifa, saying that it is at the heart of violence in cities around the country.
‘I’ve talked to every police chief in every city where there has been major violence and they all have identified Antifa as the ramrod for the violence,’ Barr said in an interview with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer.
‘They are flying around the country. We know people who are flying around the country,’ he said.
‘We see some of the purchases they are making before the riots of weapons to use in those riots,’ Barr added. ‘So, we are following them.’
‘I’ve talked to every police chief in every city where there has been major violence and they all have identified Antifa as the ramrod for the violence,’ Barr said in an interview Wednesday
Fires burn as two hundred activists spray graffiti and start fires at the Portland Police Union building, in Portland, Oregon on Thursday
Antifa is a radical movement comprised of different sub-groups, of all whom hold anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian views, which aims to confront those whom they view as racist.
In a Fox News interview late on Monday, Trump made cryptic claims about armed thugs he said had boarded an airplane seeking trouble. Asked for details, Trump said: ‘I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now.’
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that it was something told to him by an individual on the flight. Trump would not identify the person.
Asked to comment, White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews did not address Trump’s specific assertions but said he was referring to an investigation into possible financial backers of ‘organized riots.’
The president, seeking re-election on a promise to restore ‘law and order,’ told Fox News the plane was ‘completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that’
He added: ‘Here were like seven people on the plane like this person and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage.’
Antifa members are seen in Portland in August preparing to confront right-wing groups. The person on the left bears a shield with the Communist hammer and sickle, and the anti-cop slogan ACAB, which stands for ‘all cops are b*****ds’
Antifa members gather at a rally held by Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon on June 30
Barr on Wednesday also said he thought there was no systemic racism in the U.S. justice system, and that there is a ‘false narrative’ that the country is in an ‘epidemic’ of unarmed black people being killed by white police officers.
‘I think our institutions have been reformed in the past 60 years and if anything has been built into it it’s a bias toward non-discrimination,’ Barr said.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has also said he believes people are traveling around the country to instigate violence.
Paul on Friday called on the FBI to investigate a crowd of protesters that swarmed him as he departed the White House after listening to Trump accept his party’s nomination for re-election.
Paul told Fox News Channel he believes the group chanting his name and pushing against his impromptu police escort was paid to incite a riot.
He did not say who he believes financially backed them or offer any evidence for his contention.
‘I believe there are going to be people who were involved with the attack on us that actually were paid to come here and are not from Washington, D.C., and are sort of paid to be anarchists,’ Paul said.
‘The FBI needs to investigate but the only way you can do it is you have to arrest people.’
Trump signed a memo on Wednesday that threatens to cut federal funding to ‘lawless’ cities, including Seattle, Portland, New York and Washington.
‘My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,’ said the memo, which was released by the White House.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter that the memo was an ‘illegal stunt.’