Louisiana U.S. Attorneys Working with Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Partners to Ensure Peaceful Protests
Criminal Instigators of Violent Protests Could Face Federal Prosecution
SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/MONROE, La. – United States Attorneys David C. Joseph, Western District of Louisiana, Brandon J. Fremin, Middle District of Louisiana, and Peter G. Strasser, Eastern District of Louisiana, jointly announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Louisiana are joining federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to preserve Louisiana citizens’ rights to free speech and assembly while protecting our communities from violence and destruction.
In a statement on Sunday, May 31, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr noted that federal law enforcement resources would be available to assist state and local leaders in their efforts to ensure peaceful protests and to reestablish law and order. Attorney General Barr said that federal resources will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have taken over peaceful protests and are engaging in violations of federal law.
According to U.S. Attorneys Joseph, Fremin, and Strasser, joint federal, state, and local coordination is designed to use available federal assets to assist state and local partners in maintaining order and allowing people to peacefully assemble, while protecting against violence and destruction.
Specifically, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices are also working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to identify criminal organizers and instigators, and seek federal prosecutions where applicable. The FBI’s JTTFs are the nation’s front line of defense against terrorism, both international and domestic. Today there are about 200 task forces around the country, including one in the FBI’s New Orleans field office, which supports the state of Louisiana through its local FBI branch offices in Shreveport, Lafayette, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Monroe, and Baton Rouge. The New Orleans JTTF includes state, local and federal agencies.
The tragic events leading to Mr. Floyd’s death in Minnesota are being addressed through our criminal justice system, which is moving quickly. The Minnesota state prosecutor has brought charges against a former Minneapolis police officer and the Department of Justice is also conducting an independent investigation.
“The demonstrations in Louisiana have been peaceful and I applaud Louisianians for exercising their First Amendment rights in a non-violent manner,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph. “However, if anyone uses these peaceful demonstrations to promote violence or property destruction, prosecutors in my office stand ready to use all available resources to assist our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to enforce the law and protect our communities from acts of violence and lawlessness.”
“Our Constitutional right to peacefully protest is a time-honored bedrock principle upon which our great nation was founded, and it should be protected,” said U.S. Attorney Fremin. “Also to be protected is innocent life and property often injured by criminals who hijack otherwise peaceful demonstrations in favor of advancing an alternative agenda.” Fremin added, “In recent days, we have seen peaceful demonstrations by well-meaning Louisianans. We appreciate their respect for the rule of law and we support their right to assemble, but make no mistake – criminal behavior will not be tolerated. The responsibility of law enforcement at every level is to maintain law and order in our communities, and we are working around the clock with local, state and federal officials to do just that.”
“Our office remains dedicated to protecting our citizens and upholding their Constitutional rights,” said U.S. Attorney Strasser. “The First Amendment gives every citizen the right to assemble and protest peacefully. Nevertheless, when a few people instigate violence and damage property, we must and will enforce the law. Violence and chaos that disrupts our precious First Amendment Constitutional right shall not be tolerated. Through the collaborative efforts of our local, state, federal and community partners, we will continue both to ensure our citizen’s lawful right of self-expression and work with our first responders to maintain civility.”
Attorney General Barr’s statement is available here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barrs-statement-riots-and-domestic-terrorism.
For more information on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs, go to: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/terrorism/joint-terrorism-task-forces.
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.