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House Freedom Caucus Urges Barr to Crack Down on Rioters

Workers clean the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square
Workers clean the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square / Getty Images

Sixteen members of the House Freedom Caucus urged federal law enforcement agencies to arrest and punish rioters who are responsible for destruction across the country, including toppling historical statues and the looting of businesses.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R., Ariz.) said Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI director Chris Wray should begin prosecuting rioters responsible for the destruction to restore "peace and order" in the country.

"We call on Attorney General Barr to charge those arrested and vigorously and immediately prosecute them, and we believe in so doing we can restore peace and order to this country," Biggs said at a Thursday press conference.

The call comes amid national protests and unrest following the Minneapolis death of George Floyd in late May. Cities across the country have dealt with widespread looting and vandalism, including numerous attempts to tear down historic statues.

Barr signaled Thursday morning during an interview with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) that further enforcement could be on the way. He said the Justice Department is already reviewing videos of rioters who vandalized and attempted to tear down the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., and would take action to punish the perpetrators.

Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) said further action is required to restore the rule of law. "If you don’t have order, you don’t have liberty," Roy said. "It’s time for the federal government to do its job."

Similar calls have come from President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday called for federal authorities to enforce the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act, a federal law that allows for a prison term of up to 10 years for any attempt to damage a monument commemorating the service of any person in the armed forces.

Biggs warned that a failure to enforce the laws will allow the "mobocracy" to take rule in the country.

"Rioting, looting and now mindless, aimless attacks on statues and work of art—this is nothing less than mobocracy," Biggs said. "The attempt is to sanitize the symbols of our history which are being destroyed by those who do not understand or know our history."