Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that federal agents had picked up information alleging that “violent instigators” from outside Wisconsin were traveling to Kenosha to attack law enforcement amid protests sparked by the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.
ABC News’ Alex Mallin was first to report on Barr’s comments, which he delivered during his visit to Kenosha with President Donald Trump, who toured buildings and businesses in Kenosha that were badly damaged in the riots.
AG Barr in Kenosha says that prior to the rioting in the city last week, federal agents stationed in Chicago picked up information that "violent instigators" from California, Washington state and Chicago were traveling to Kenosha to carry out attacks against law enforcement.
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) September 1, 2020
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said more than 200 people have been arrested since the protests began. Of those, more than half were from outside Kenosha, he said. Many arrests were for curfew violations, and included possible charges for burglary, possession of illegal drugs, and carrying concealed weapons without a permit, officials said. The Kenosha Police Department has said more than 20 firearms were seized.
Beth also said that “outside agitators” have used social media or made phone calls to churches and businesses to scare people and spread false rumors.
“I want the people of Kenosha to know there’s a huge amount of resources here to protect you,” Beth said.
On Monday, Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf stated the Justice Department had launched an investigation into the organization of the violent protests across the country.
“We’ve seen about 300 arrests across this country regarding civil unrest and protesting — violent protesting, I would say criminal protesting, criminal rioting. We have got about 300 arrests,” Wolf told the Fox News Channel. “The Department of Justice is also targeting and investigating the head of these organizations, the individuals that are paying for these individuals to move across the country. What we know, Tucker, is that we have seen groups and individuals move from Portland to other parts of the country.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.