Since the killing of George Floyd, millions of protesters have marched against racial violence and police brutality. The demonstrations have been mostly nonviolent, yet in many jurisdictions law enforcement has responded with force. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, activists and Black Lives Matter supporters have been arrested. More than five months since the start of the unrest, hundreds of these protesters have been slapped with serious charges by federal and local prosecutors, The Guardian reports. Some have faced stacked charges and threats of life sentences. Others have been charged with “assaulting” police officers where there’s no evidence of violence and no reports of injuries. The crackdown comes as President Donald Trump has ramped up warnings about Black Lives Matter, anti-fascists and the “far left” in the lead up to the election. He has called BLM a “symbol of hate” and claimed without evidence that “Antifa” will “attack your homes”.
Federal prosecutors have doubled down on cases involving leftist protesters. From the end of May through October, the U.S. has filed more than 300 felony cases related to protests, according to The Prosecution Project, a research group that tracks political violence. Of those 300, roughly 30 percent are in Oregon, nine percent in New York, seven percent in Pennsylvania and six percent in Minnesota. There are cases in at least 25 other states. The most common allegations include arson, illegal firearm possession, rioting and interfering with officers. Some involved incidents where property was damaged or destroyed during unrest in Portland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and other cities. The vast majority involve defendants tied to leftist actions such as BLM or anti-fascism, though a small handful have far-right affiliations, according to Georgetown University Prof. Michael Loadenthal, director of the project.