The U.S. Justice Department moved swiftly to bring federal charges against 53 individuals accused of violence during nationwide protests that swept across the United States calling for an end to police brutality.
Attorney General William Barr promised a crackdown on members of the anti-fascist movement known as antifa and other “extremists” he blamed for helping to drive the violence.
But a Reuters examination of federal court records related to the charges, social media posts by some of the suspects and interviews with defense lawyers and prosecutors found mostly disorganized acts of violence by people who have few obvious connections to antifa or other left-wing groups.
Reuters reviewed only federal cases, both because of the allegations by the Justice Department about the involvement of antifa and similar groups, and since federal charges generally carry harsher penalties. In some of the charging documents reviewed by Reuters, no violent acts are alleged at all.