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Common Dreams
February 25, 2021

The Right Is Using the Capitol Riot as an Excuse to Target Activists on the Left
By Branco Marcetic

It’s not hard to imagine how any future domestic terror legislation would be used by law enforcement to suppress the Left, given the FBI’s long history of targeting so-called ​“black identity extremists” for protesting police brutality, while also harassing all kinds of civil rights groups and leaders, if not worse. Just look at the last year alone. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University, which tracks this data, 2020 saw the highest number of federal prosecutions classified as ​“domestic terrorism” in the 25 years since the U.S. government began keeping track, with 183 such cases—more than double that of 2019, and up 195 percent from just five years ago. TRAC identifies the nationwide George Floyd protests over the summer of 2020 as the main driver of this surge, with the largest share (78) taking place in Oregon, whose largest city, Portland, eventually became the focal point of authoritarian attempts, backed by former President Donald Trump and his allies, to quash the protest movement. “On many nights, after peaceful demonstrations end, violent agitators have physically attacked police officers and firefighters, damaged buildings, and repeatedly attempted to set public buildings on fire,” U.S. attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams complained last year, pointing to protesters’ use of slingshots, shields and, as with the Capitol rioters, use of bear spray against officers. According to TRAC, the most common charge for 2020’s domestic terrorism offenses was ​“assaulting, resisting, or impeding” officers, followed by ​“interstate communications,” the same charge currently being used to put Daniel Baker in prison over his social media activity. Ranked fifth is ​“civil disorders.”

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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