In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama wrote that “DOJ's apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.”
The Department of Justice has charged 510 separate individuals connected to the Jan. 6 breach and maintains a webpage listing them, the senators pointed out, while no such webpage exists for those associated with crimes committed during the summer 2020 protests and riots.
“During the spring and summer of 2020, individuals used peaceful protests across the country to engage in rioting and other crimes that resulted in loss of life, injuries to law enforcement officers, and significant property damage,” the senators stated. “A federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, has been effectively under siege for months. Property destruction stemming from the 2020 social justice protests throughout the country will reportedly result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims.”
The senators insisted that “violence, property damage, and vandalism of any kind should not be tolerated and individuals that break the law should be prosecuted,” including those involved in the Jan. 6 riot. “However,” they added, “the potential unequal administration of justice with respect to certain protestors is particularly concerning.”
They requested more information on prosecutorial and law enforcement activities relating to the summer protests and the Capitol riot, including whether law enforcement collected cellphone data from those involved; how many individuals from each category were charged, released on bail, placed in solitary confinement, and offered resolution agreements; and how many Department of Justice prosecutors and FBI personnel were assigned to work on cases involving each category.
On Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees released a report compiling information that was gathered by them during joint hearings investigating the Jan. 6 riot that included the accusation that three police officers died as a result of the Capitol siege.
Republican senators in May blocked a bill to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Cruz, Johnson, Lee, and Tuberville all voted against moving the bill to a final passage vote, marking the first filibuster of the 117th Congress.