Authorities in Oklahoma announced late last week that they were charging alleged rioters with terrorism and assault, saying that they would not put up with “this lawlessness here.”
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater reportedly made the decision to get tough on the rioters in an effort to curb any future potential riots.
“This is not Seattle,” Prater said Friday. “We’re not putting up with this lawlessness here.”
The charges, which appear to be for alleged crimes that were committed a couple of weeks ago, also included “five defendants identified as involved in the painting of murals in downtown Oklahoma City this week,” The Oklahoman reported. “They are accused in an incitement to riot charge of interfering with a police sergeant who was trying to take a homicide witness for an interview at police headquarters Tuesday.”
The ACLU criticized the use of the “harshest possible charges” against the alleged rioters.
Prater defended the charges on Sunday, saying, “When you act like a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist.”
“The terrorism charges involved the burning of an Oklahoma County sheriff’s van and the damage done to an Oklahoma City bail bonds business,” The Oklahoman reported separately. “One defendant, Isael Antonio Ortiz, 21, of Welch, is charged in both incidents. He was jailed Saturday morning. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.”
“Several people were carrying flags that were identified as belonging to the following groups: Antifa, Soviet Union, American Indian Movement, Anarcho-Communism (solid red) and the original Oklahoma flag … currently adopted by Oklahoma Socialists,” police reported, according to The Oklahoman. “Several known supporters of anti-establishment organizations were present in the crowd.”
Attorney General William Barr announced late last week that he had created a task force to go after the anti-government extremists who had been causing a lot of the problems across the U.S.
“I am today directing the creation of a task force devoted to countering violent anti-government extremists,” Barr wrote in a memo. “The task force will be co-headed by Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Eric Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. The task force will include members of United States Attorney’s Offices, the FBI, and other relevant components across the Nation. Drawing particularly on the capabilities of the FBI, the task force will develop detailed information about violent anti-government extremist individuals, networks, and movements – and will share that information as appropriate with federal, state, and local law enforcement, especially in places where these extremists pose a threat.”
Barr specifically mentioned Antifa and other groups and ideologies in his memo, and noted that “some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country.”
“The task force will also provide training and identify resources to help law enforcement at all levels identify, investigate, and prosecute violent acts by anti-government extremists,” the memo said. “The ultimate goal of the task force will be not only to enable prosecutions of extremists who engage in violence, but to understand these groups well enough that we can stop such violence before it occurs and ultimately eliminate it as a threat to public safety and the rule of law.”