William Barr told prosecutors to explore aggressive charges against people arrested at recent demonstrations across the US, even suggesting bringing a rarely used sedition charge, reserved for those who have plotted a threat that posed imminent danger to government authority, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
The move signals a doubling down on Barr’s aggressive approach to the protests. Barr told US attorneys from across the country during a conference call last week that they should seek to pursue federal charges against people who were arrested at demonstrations, even if state charges could also apply, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal reports that more than 200 people have been charged with federal crimes in relation to the protests, including arson, assault of federal officers and gun crimes. Dozens of the people who face charges were protesting in Portland, Oregon, where protesters held nightly demonstrations and faced violent crackdown from federal agents.