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GOP senators claim 'unequal justice' in Capitol riot, Black Lives Matter protests

Letter to Attorney General from five Republican senators suggests DOJ is pursuing Jan. 6 prosecutions more harshly than arrests during social justice protests.

WASHINGTON — Five Republican Senators penned a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland this week raising “concerns regarding potential unequal justice” related to the prosecution of Capitol riot suspects compared to those criminally charged in social justice protests during the summer of 2020.

The four-page letter, dated June 7, says despite “numerous examples of violence” during social justice protests nationwide throughout the summer of 2020, “individuals charged with committing crimes at these events may benefit from infrequent prosecutions and minimal, if any, penalties.”

The letter says that’s in contrast to the Department of Justice’s ongoing prosecution of criminal cases related to the siege on the US Capitol.

“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 letter reads.

The letter is signed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). Three of the senators – Cruz, Scott and Tuberville – voted on January 6 to object to certification of Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden.

“Violence of any kind cannot be tolerated and those who commit crimes must be held accountable” Scott said in a statement to WUSA9. “The Department of Justice needs to answer for why there hasn’t been an equal administration of justice with respect to violent protests that occurred throughout our nation last year.”

The letter says, to date, the DOJ has charged 510 individuals stemming from the Capitol Breach and maintains a webpage that lists Capitol riot defendants and charges, while “so such database exists for alleged perpetrators of crimes associated with the spring and summer 2020 protests."

The letter also alleges defendants from 2020 protests have benefited from “deferred resolution agreements,” also known as deferred prosecution agreements, where the government has agreed to resolve allegations of wrongdoing by deferring prosecution in exchange for a negotiated agreement with the defendant to comply for a time with certain requirements, such as good behavior and or community service.

While such agreements are commonplace, in court hearings for Capitol riot cases, defense attorneys have complained about slow plea bargain negotiations by federal prosecutors as well as plea deals that include harsher-than-expected prison sentences.

To date, only two Capitol riot defendants have agreed to plead guilty. The senators' letter cites an April article in Politico which states “prosecutors have approved deals in at least half a dozen federal felony cases arising from clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Oregon last summer.”

The letter does not specifically reference social justice protests in Washington, DC or arrests and prosecutions that came from them.

The letter states, “the potential unequal administration of justice with respect to certain protestors is particularly concerning,” and asks that Garland answer a list of 18 questions related to the criminal prosecution of defendants from the spring and summer 2020 unrest compared to the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol Breach.

You can read those questions below.

Spring and Summer 2020 Unrest:

1. Did federal law enforcement utilize geolocation data from defendants’ cell phones to track protestors associated with the unrest in the spring and summer of 2020? If so, how many times and for which locations/riots?

2. How many individuals who may have committed crimes associated with protests in the spring and summer of 2020 were arrested by law enforcement using pre-dawn raids and SWAT teams?

3. How many individuals were incarcerated for allegedly committing crimes associated with protests in the spring and summer of 2020?

4. How many of these individuals are or were placed in solitary confinement? What was the average amount of consecutive days such individuals were in solitary confinement?

5. How many of these individuals have been released on bail?

6. How many of these individuals were released on their own recognizance or without being required to post bond?

7. How many of these individuals were offered deferred resolution agreements?

8. How many DOJ prosecutors were assigned to work on cases involving defendants who allegedly committed crimes associated with protests in the spring and summer of 2020?

9. How many FBI personnel were assigned to work on cases involving defendants who allegedly committed crimes associated with protests in the spring and summer of 2020?

January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol Breach:

10. Did federal law enforcement utilize geolocation data from defendants’ cell phones to track protestors associated with the January 6, 2021 protests and Capitol breach? If so, how many times and how many additional arrests resulted from law enforcement utilizing geolocation information?

11. How many individuals who may have committed crimes associated with the Capitol breach were arrested by law enforcement using pre-dawn raids and SWAT teams?

12. How many individuals are incarcerated for allegedly committing crimes associated with the Capitol breach?

13. How many of these individuals are or were placed in solitary confinement? What was the average amount of consecutive days such individuals were in solitary confinement?

14. How many of these individuals have been released on bail?

15. How many of these individuals have been released on their own recognizance or without being required to post bond?

16. How many of these individuals were offered deferred resolution agreements?

17. How many DOJ prosecutors have been assigned to work on cases involving defendants who allegedly committed crimes associated with the Capitol breach?

18. How many FBI personnel were assigned to work on cases involving defendants who allegedly committed crimes associated with the Capitol breach?

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