FBI seeking tips on George Floyd protests' 'violent agitators'

FBI seeks images and digital media that show any violence at protests

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking tips and images in connection with the "violent agitators" who are exploiting peaceful protests by causing destruction and threatening lives, the head of the agency announced Thursday.

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During a press conference on Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the police killing of George Floyd and said nonviolent protests “are signs of a healthy democracy, not an ailing one.”

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“In recent days, the violence, threat to life, and destruction of property that we’ve seen in some parts of the country jeopardizes the rights and safety of all citizens, including peaceful demonstrators. It has to stop,” he said, flanked by federal law enforcement officials, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Wray said the department had seen anarchists, such as members of antifa and other organized groups, who “have set out to sow discord and upheaval, rather than join in the righteous pursuit of equality and justice.”

Floyd, who is black, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck. Thousands of people have since taken to the streets nationwide to protest police brutality.

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Wray also repeated the bureau’s Monday request that members of the public send any tips or digital media that show any violence at protests.

“On a national level, we’re soliciting tips, leads and video evidence of criminal activities through our National Threat Operations Center,” he said. “And over the past few days, I have been speaking with law enforcement leaders in various parts of the country to ensure that we are providing the support they need, and to let them know that in every community, the FBI stands ready to assist wherever we can.”

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The FBI is also using its network of 200 regional joint terrorism task forces to “identify criminal organizers,” and federal prosecutors across the country have been instructed to share information and utilize federal riot, arson or terror statutes against any “violent radical agitators” who attempt to hijack protests to cause destruction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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