The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle recently announced its eighth arrest stemming from the Seattle summer protests that were sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May.
Three of the federal cases came from riots that occurred on May 30th, in which protestors stole guns from police cars and lit cars on fire.
The following evening, May 31st, Deviance Parker was arrested for hitting a police officer in the face with a beer can. Parker is now in federal custody and has been charged by the Seattle DOJ with possession of a destructive device.
Other cases arise from the August 24th incident in which rioters locked people inside the East Police Precinct before lighting it on fire.
Charges for the eight currently in federal custody relate mainly to arson, Molotov cocktails and firearms.
There has been fierce criticism about federal involvement in cities like Seattle and Portland, which have experienced prolonged and extreme violence at the hands of AntiFa and other radical demonstrators in recent months. But according to Brian Moran, the United States Attorney in Seattle, federal authorities are operating within their just powers in these arrests.
“Is this the feds meddling in Seattle’s business?” Brandi Kruse, a reporter with local news Q13 asked Moran in an interview over the weekend.
“No,” Moran responded with a chuckle. “Far from it. This is the feds doing its fair share to make sure the public are safe.”
Moran explained in the interview that the Department of Justice’s involvement with these cases has been a partnership between DOJ and local agencies.
Some local defense attorneys, however, see these prosecutions as politically motivated. Dennis Carroll, assistance federal public defender in Seattle, sees these arrests as “an effort by the Department of Justice to mischaracterize these protests and make them seem more violent and damaging than they actually are.”
Moran has denied that these arrests are politically motivated or that he is facing any outside pressure from Washington, D.C. “I’ve been asked this a few times,” he told KUOW, “‘Are you getting directions from main Justice and the White House about who to charge, and how many to charge?’ and the answer is ‘absolutely not.'”
Moran also explained to Kruse in the Q13 interview that these arrests are important at the federal level in order to stem preventable violence:
“We’re not talking about hundreds and hundreds of people that we’re looking at. We have a small, core group of criminal agitators in any particular city, and it’s the same people over and over and over. And there’s no deterrence if you’re going to get booked and released that night and you’re back out on the street the following night, as we’ve seen, not necessarily here, but in Portland.”
Of the eight currently in federal custody, Moran said, “We’re looking to charge aggressively, appropriately.”
Federal charges are most often more serious than charges on a state or local level.