The Department of Justice announced Thursday that more than 300 people are now facing federal charges stemming from the violence that has occurred in cities across the country since May.
In a news release, the department said individuals in 29 states and the District of Columbia would face federal charges related to a wide range of crimes.
The crimes in question, according to the release, were “committed adjacent to or under the guise of peaceful demonstrations.”
The DOJ said more than 40 separate U.S. attorneys’ offices have filed charges over crimes ranging from attempted murder, to arson, to assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Other crimes being prosecuted include damaging federal property and inciting a riot.
Moreover, many charges are related to alleged crimes involving guns or explosives.
The crimes include “burglary of a federally-licensed firearms dealer,” as well as “malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives, [being a] felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, unlawful possession of a destructive device” and “felony civil disorder,” according to the DOJ.
“Violent opportunists have exploited these demonstrations in various ways,” the Justice Department said, adding that roughly 80 people “have been charged with offenses relating to arson and explosives.
“Approximately 15 individuals have been charged with damaging federal property. In some instances, these individuals are alleged to have set fires to local businesses as well as city and federal property, which will regrettably incur millions of taxpayer dollars to repair damages,” the DOJ statement added.
“Corporate and local businesses were also targeted,” the DOJ said. “Through these acts, these individuals have shown minimal regard to their communities and for the safety of others and themselves.”
The release continued: “Approximately 35 individuals have been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer and related offenses. One of these cases was charged in Massachusetts; the rest of these individuals were charged in Oregon.
“The assaults have targeted local and federal law enforcement officers,” it added.
“In Portland, a man is alleged to have approached a U.S. Marshals Deputy from behind and struck the deputy in the upper back, neck, and shoulder with a wooden baseball bat; another man, allegedly assaulted a Deputy U.S. Marshal with an explosive device. In Boston, a man allegedly shot at least 11 times toward officers, including a deputized federal officer.”
Another 30 people have been charged with civil disorder-related crimes.
“In several instances, these individuals leveraged social media platforms to incite destruction and assaults against law enforcement officers,” the DOJ said.
“In Cleveland, two Pennsylvania men are charged with driving to the city with the intent to participate in a riot and commit acts of violence.
“In their possession, authorities found a black backpack containing a hammer, two containers of Sterno Firestarter Instant Flame Gel, a can of spray paint, a glass bottle of liquor with a bar-style pour top, a Glock semi-automatic firearm and two magazines loaded with ammunition.”
The department went on to note: “Several of these charges carry significant maximum prison sentences. For example, felony assault of a federal officer with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.”
The DOJ also said in the release that “Arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.”
The Justice Department announcement came following investigations conducted by a multitude of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and dozens of U.S. attorneys’ offices.
News of the federal charges also comes as prosecutors in some cities, such as Portland, Oregon, have refused to charge individuals arrested on charges relating to rioting.