Free Speech For People files a FOIA Request with the Department of Justice for any communication regarding armed personnel who wear no uniforms or insignia but claim to be federal law enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 4, 2020) – Free Speech For People submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Justice seeking to identify the relationship between armed paramilitary groups and the Department of Justice.  On June 1, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec asserted the department would utilize all the department’s components to quell protests in the district.  The following day, an armed group, wearing tactical gear and fatigues, but no uniforms or insignias, patrolling the area outside the Department of Justice building in D.C., refused to identify themselves specifically, but told a reporter with Mother Jones that they worked for the Department of Justice. A second armed group refused to identify themselves in any manner to an MSNBC reporter. Some of them may be Bureau of Prisons “Disturbance Control Teams” or “Special Operations Response Teams” trained to respond to prison riots, but as none of them are identifying themselves, the agency (if any) associated with particular unbadged armed personnel is being kept secret.

At present, it is not known whether these armed personnel are law enforcement or military personnel of any type; private military contractors; or simply armed private citizens acting without government authority. Nor is it known, if they are somehow lawfully authorized to perform any law enforcement or security functions, under which agency and which authority.  

The public has a serious interest in the identification of law enforcement officials who may be tasked with controlling protests, especially in light of numerous reports of officials using violent tactics in the containment of even peaceful protestors.  Conversely, if these are simply armed private citizens whose “orders” carry no legal force, the public has the right to know that too.

The FOIA specifically requests an expedited review of any and all communications at the Justice Department pertaining to the identity of these paramilitary groups or the discussion of deploying such groups in Washington, D.C. 

You can read the FOIA request here.

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