No, Director Wray, the FBI is Not ‘All In’ on Antifa/BLM Riot Cases

In House Judiciary testimony Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told members of Congress that the FBI had “one standard of justice” when it came to domestic terror issues and was “all in” on investigating crimes committed during George Floyd riotswhich lasted all last summerjust as rigorously as it is pursuing the investigation of the January 6 riot. 

As of June 10, 516 defendants have been announced in the January 6 case, a single incident that lasted just hours. Many of those defendants are being held on misdemeanor charges, without bail, in a special facility just for January 6 defendants, as American Greatness’ Julie Kelly has documented extensively

In contrast, according to “The Prosecution Project,” there were only 367 federal cases related to George Floyd protests over the entire summer of 2020. That is out of 13,000 criminal charges issued over the same period. 

Even here Wray’s FBI deserves limited credit, as those 367 are not just FBI cases but include arrests by U.S. Marshals and Federal Protective Services (FPS) during riots outside federal facilities such as the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland which came under sustained siege for more than 3 months.

Both federal and state prosecutors have dropped the vast majority of charges against summer rioters, however. Portland’s district attorney dropped nearly 70 percent of charges, while federal prosecutors had dropped nearly half of all Portland federal cases as of April. In other cases, federal prosecutors have offered deferred resolution agreements, which allow for those arrested to maintain a clean criminal record in exchange for community service and keeping a clean record for a short period. 

An analysis by the left-wing Guardian of London claimed nearly 90 percent of charges were dropped in dozens of jurisdictions, almost all of them in very left-leaning urban areas.

In the January 6 cases, the FBI and federal prosecutors have worked aggressively to imply the role of conspiracy by linking defendants together through defendants’ alleged membership in such organizations as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and so-called “three-percenter” groups. 

In comparison, however, little to no effort has been expended to identify or allege any larger organizational effort behind BLM riots. Indeed, Wray continues to insist that there is no larger Antifa organizational structure

There is no indication that the FBI has made any serious attempt to investigate the role played by various Antifa chapters such as Rose City Antifa, the Youth Liberation Front, or similar anarcho-communist organizations, in orchestrating the summer violence.

Director Wray attempted to argue that because of the nature of the January 6 attack, federal charges were the obvious result, whereas the summer riots were more likely to draw local and state charges. This seems on its face to be a reasonable position, but it ignores the widespread use by Antifa rioters of destructive devices such as commercial-grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails—threats that were not present at the January 6 event, and whose use easily justifies federal charges. Wray’s argument also does not consider the role of interstate rioting—a federal crime—as Antifa and BLM rioters often traveled between cities during the course of the summer. It also ignores that in the case of Portland, state law enforcement officers were deputized as federal marshals, as part of the Trump Administration’s effort to restore order in the face of a local Portland government quasi complicit with the riots. Assaulting law enforcement officers deputized federally is a federal crime.

And, of course, unlike January 6 where Capitol Police can be seen waving defendants into the building, in Portland federal officers aggressively resisted efforts by Antifa rioters to target federal property.

Wray’s attempts to claim that the FBI has maintained an even-handed approach to domestic terrorism is belied by his organization’s continued refusal to accurately assess the nature of the Antifa threat, and by its embrace of heavily politicized definitions of threats. 

Republican lawmakers were right to be skeptical of Wray’s claim that the FBI is motivated to address all domestic terrorism threats equally. The FBI and Justice Department’s overzealous behavior in regards to January 6, compared to its lackadaisical response to month after month of Antifa/BLM rioting tells the true tale. 

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About Kyle Shideler

Kyle Shideler is the Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterroism at the Center for Security Policy. You can follow him at @ShidelerK on Twitter.

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images