Warren, Krishnamoorthi, Booker, and Jeffries demand answers from Attorney General Barr on use of non-identifiable Department of Justice security forces In response to protests
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Yesterday, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), along with Senator Cory Booker and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, wrote to Attorney General William Barr to demand answers on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) deployment of non-identifiable federal security forces to oversee protests. This letter follows the Department of Justice's refusal to disclose to the public why these personnel wore no identifying information and were instructed not to disclose what agency they were from.
"We write to you concerning recent media reporting and sightings from Representative Krishnamoorthi's Congressional staff of non-identifiable members of federal security forces in the District of Columbia. The use of federal security forces to oversee protests without specific agency identifiers or badge numbers runs counter to the need for accountability, transparency, and oversight that is sorely needed in the local and national response to the peaceful domestic protests that followed the unjust killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020," the lawmakers wrote. "In an email response to media questions about a specific group of these non-identifiable security forces, a Department of Justice spokesperson stated that the security forces in question were from the Bureau of Prisons. The spokesperson did not respond to the question of why these particular security forces did not have identifying information on their uniforms or why they were instructed not to disclose what agency they were from."
To address the concerns, the lawmakers asked the Attorney General to provide the following information:
- What administrative orders were given to these security forces that prompted them to wear uniforms that provided no specific agency identifiers or badge numbers? Were these standard uniforms?
- What administrative orders were given to these security forces that prompted them to identify themselves only as "working for the Department of Justice" and "the federal government"?
- What administrative order was given by the Department of Justice to relocate security forces from the Bureau of Prisons "riot team" to the District of Columbia? Which specific forces from the Bureau of Prisons, were deployed in the District of Columbia? How many of these personnel were deployed, and from which geographic locations were they deployed?
- What administrative order was given to designate these forces be stationed outside the fencing surrounding Lafayette Park, and who was responsible for this order?
- Can the Department of Justice confirm that all security forces deployed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to the District of Columbia are federal government employees and not private contractors? If any of these individuals were contractors, please provide information on the company for which they worked.
The lawmakers closed their letter by urging Attorney General Barr to "make the necessary alterations to the uniforms of Department of Justice personnel deployed to crowd response to provide for their identification in the event of misconduct, and we request answers to the above questions by June 10th, 2020."
Senator Warren has also formally requested that the Department of Justice Inspector General investigate the role of Attorney General William Barr and Department of Justice law enforcement personnel in the attack on peaceful protesters at the White House.