A record number of domestic terrorism cases were filed by federal prosecutors last year with the largest concentration in Oregon thanks to the ongoing riots there inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its leftist supporters. For the past seven months Portland has been like a war zone with anarchists breaking into buildings, rioters setting fires in the streets and smashing the windows of local businesses. One area news report recently quoted Portland’s mayor comparing the perpetrators to a “flash mob.” There seems to be no end in sight to the mayhem. Just a few days ago about 100 protestors vandalized businesses and police headquarters in the Portland suburb of Tigard.
The ongoing violence has earned Oregon the distinction of having the largest arsenal of criminally charged domestic terrorists during a record-breaking year for homegrown terrorism in the U.S. In fact, in 2020 the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more domestic terrorism cases than any other year in the last decade and a half, according to figures provided by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center at Syracuse University. The records published by TRAC show that U.S. attorneys around the country filed 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, most of them related to nightly protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death during an arrest by Minneapolis Police. Seventy-eight of the cases were brought in Oregon, ground zero of leftist rioting. It marks the highest total of such cases since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago, TRAC confirms. “This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019,” the research group writes in its report.
The government categorizes domestic terrorism to include assault, resisting or impeding officers or law enforcement employees, threats against the president, entering or remaining in restricted buildings or grounds, importing, or storing explosives, civil disorders and making threatening communications. Back in September Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, announced that his office was committed to charging those who impede or assault law enforcement officers, damage federal property, and set buildings on fire. “Those who commit violence in the name of protest, will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” Williams writes in the announcement. Days later dozens got charged in Oregon with assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, arson of federal property and violating national defense airspace. The cases all stem from nightly protests outside Portland’s federal courthouse after Floyd’s death 1,700 miles away.
The District of Columbia ranks second with 16 domestic terrorism cases, according to TRAC figures obtained from the government. Ohio is third with six followed by Utah with five. The nonpartisan university research conglomerate points out that many U.S. Attorneys offices failed to charge perpetrators with domestic terrorism, even in states where violent BLM protests made international headlines. Among them is the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, which has jurisdiction over Seattle, a city with BLM protests just as violent as those in nearby Portland. In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Seattle became a war zone with daily vandalism and violence as well as the occupation of a neighborhood—in the name of racial justice—that was finally dismantled by the city after two fatal shootings. Protestors managed to convince lawmakers to drastically cut police funding even as Seattle experiences the highest murder rate in 26 years.
Federal prosecutors in Washington may have chosen to look the other way as domestic terrorists trashed their largest city, but the numbers nationally are still unsettling. Data provided by TRAC reveals that the homegrown extremists—mostly violent leftists claiming to be fighting for racial justice—greatly outnumber the 21 international terrorism cases filed by feds last year. “Federal prosecutors also labeled as terrorism prosecutions some cases brought to safeguard critical infrastructure to protect national security, terrorism-related financing offenses, and terrorism-related export enforcement,” TRAC writes in its report. “They also categorized others as internal security offenses. But despite the diversity of categories, the 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2020 accounted for the majority. Prosecutions under the broad terrorism/internal security label altogether totaled 301.”