UPDATED 2:28 PM PT — Monday, June 1, 2020
What began as an initially peaceful protest in Minneapolis early last week has since spread across the country, leaving crumbling buildings and torched police cars in its wake. However, some of the protesters have insisted they are not responsible.
WATCH: BLM protester calls out white Antifa for vandalizing local Starbucks pic.twitter.com/O7ThXtapvt
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) May 31, 2020
Government officials and law enforcement officers are starting to agree. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea has said he recognizes there is a difference in motive between the protesters and vandals.
“There are protests and there are mobs, and I saw akin closer to a mob,” Shea explained. “A protest does not involve surrounding and ambushing a marked police car, and putting my officers’ and my detectives’ lives at risk.”
NYPD Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said before the protests even began in the city, anarchist organizers were preparing to clash with police. During a briefing Sunday, he reportedly claimed there were “strong indicators they used encrypted communications to plan violent events.”
The NYPD has said their strategy usually consists of “hit and run tactics” reliant on a network of advance scouts to identify quick routes to and from a target. Their tactics are beginning to frustrate demonstrators in every city.
Near the end of what had been a peaceful protest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a group of people seemingly unconnected to the protesters began vandalizing. Florida officials have confirmed they believe the second group was responsible for a majority of the damage.
Various domestic terror groups on BOTH far left & right are instigating & committing acts of violence & looting.
They are stealing the focus away from the murder of Mr. Floyd & the legitimate problems it revealed. pic.twitter.com/IQ8v7sMsU6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 31, 2020
Videos showing clashes between protesters and “agitators” have gone viral, with many showing protesters intervening to prevent further violence or property damage.
In one video, protesters in Pittsburgh attempt to stop a man, later identified as 20-year-old Brian Bartels, from destroying a police car by himself. Bartels was seen wearing the logo of the Animal Liberation Front, a direct action group that was cited as a domestic terror threat by the Department of Homeland Security in 2005.
A warrant is out for his arrest while authorities and protesters continue to try and stop others from using the protests as an excuse to further their own agenda.