Justice Department officials have called on prosecutors to press charges of “incitement to mutiny” against those who burned buildings and carried out other violent activities, according to a memo released by Reuters.
Jeffrey Rosen, a second-ranked ministry official, said he and Attorney General William Barr informed prosecutors that they did not need to prove the defendants planned to overthrow the US government in order to enforce this rarely used rule of law. “In appropriate cases, such as when a group conspired to take over by force a federal courthouse or other federal property, you should indict a violation of the incitement law,” he wrote. After peaceful protests in many places escalated into looting, arson and other forms of violence, Barr urged federal prosecutors to pursue criminal cases whenever possible. Barr blamed the violence on left-wing antifa activists, although he recently claimed that white supremacist groups were also involved in the violence. On the ground, prosecutors have also brought charges against members of right-wing militia groups. The Rebel Conspiracy Act criminalizes conspiracy to overthrow or wage war against the US government, but it also prohibits interfering with government enforcement of law and order. Those guilty of this face up to 20 years in prison.