United States: Violent protesters: Bill Barr wants sedition prosecution

For the US justice minister, the law punishing acts of rebellion against the government should be used against perpetrators of violence in recent protests.

Bill Barr wants prosecutors cracking down on violent protesters. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / AFP)


The US justice minister has suggested that federal prosecutors use a law cracking down on sedition to prosecute protesters committing violence, media reports. Bill Barr is one of the pillars of Donald Trump’s government.

He considered this option during a telephone conversation last week with federal prosecutors across the country, according to anonymous sources quoted Wednesday by the “Wall Street Journal”, CNN and NBC.

The United States has known since the death of George Floyd, a black forty-something smothered by a white policeman on May 25, the biggest anti-racist mobilization since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The processions were sometimes peppered with violence and clashes with the police.

US President Donald Trump, vying for re-election, has made it one of his main campaign themes. Accusing the local Democratic authorities of laxity, the Republican promises, if he wins the November 3 ballot, to bring back “law and order” in the country.

Used against an armed militia

In his wake, Bill Barr has been advocating for a strong federal response for weeks, although most crimes and misdemeanors fall under the jurisdiction of the 50 states.

Some 300 people have already been arrested and charged by federal justice, including arson on federal buildings or assault on federal agents, his spokesman assured last week.

But the Minister of Justice wishes to go further. He called on federal prosecutors to consider prosecution under a rarely used law that punishes acts of rebellion against the government.

This text could be difficult to apply in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution. The last lawsuits for “sedition”, in 2012 against an armed militia in Michigan, ended in a discharge.


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