Two Republican senators proposed revoking federal aid, including coronavirus emergency funding, to cities and states that do not prosecute people who were arrested for crimes allegedly committed during riots.
Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia put forth the Holding Rioters Accountable Act of 2020 in an effort to grant Attorney General William Barr the authority to hold up to 10% of Justice Department grants in instances where prosecutors are “abusing prosecutorial discretion and failing to prosecute crimes arising from riots and other violent protests.”
“What were once peaceful protests have turned violent — even deadly,” Cotton said in a statement Tuesday. “We should do everything in our power to stop these riots and help support local law enforcement.”
“In many cases, local officials and prosecutors have turned a blind eye and allowed the chaos to continue,” Loeffler said. “In Portland, a local prosecutor dismissed charges on 59 individuals connected to the riots, including nine cases involving felony charges such as arson and theft. Protesters across the country have thrown rocks through store windows, set fire to construction sites and spray-painted buildings. This cannot stand. We need to take action to protect businesses and ensure that those who seek to cause mayhem and damage are held accountable for their actions.”
The bill gives Barr permission to siphon grants that are normally given through the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, as well as the coronavirus-related emergency funding program. Money would be withheld based on prosecutions undertaken and not undertaken by state and local prosecutors, district attorneys, and state attorney general offices.
Barr’s office would have to come up with criteria for determining whether a prosecutor has intentionally opted not to charge someone who was involved in a riot or violent protest.
Loeffler, a first-term senator, has also introduced bills that would make it a federal crime to destroy or loot certain commercial properties during a riot, as well as another bill to enhance federal sentencing guidelines for people convicted of criminal gang activity.
Author: Anna Giaritelli
Source: Washington Examiner: Republicans want Barr to block coronavirus aid to cities that don’t prosecute rioters