Statement from United States Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – These have been difficult and challenging times over the past 10 weeks due first to a pervasive pandemic and now as a result of great societal unrest. We witnessed the harrowing and disturbing video images of the death of George Floyd. We watched many peaceful protestors exercise their constitutional rights to protest legitimate grievances. And while it should be a time for the nation to grieve, scream, pray, shake with anger, reconcile, and heal, some have turned to violence, destruction, arson, assault, and domestic terrorism.
Many individuals gathering to protest in the Eastern District have done so peacefully. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who seek to actively undermine the efforts of peaceful protestors by inciting violence and destroying the very physical and figurative sinew of local communities of which they are not members.
Following the decisive leadership of Attorney General Barr, we will utilize the existing framework of the Joint Terrorism Task Force model to identify, apprehend and prosecute anyone who uses the guise of protest to incite violence and violate federal laws.
As always, we stand ready to support our federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who bravely put themselves in harm’s way to ensure citizens across the Commonwealth can safely exercise their First Amendment rights.