Biden DOJ Retains Trump Tactic of Labeling Some BLM Protestors as “Terrorists”

The Federal Docket

October 19, 2021

The New York Daily News recently reported that the Department of Justice under President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland is continuing a Trump-era tactic of treating some Black Lives Matter protestors as domestic terrorists. In one specific example, the Daily News points to a case in the Eastern District of New York where federal prosecutors are charging two young lawyers who through a Molotov cocktail at an empty police car during a protest after George Floyd’s murder.

The two young lawyers, Mattis and Rahman, have no prior criminal history, and no one was hurt as a result of their offense, but prosecutors have charged them with crimes that carry a 45-year mandatory minimum sentence. The two have decided to plead guilty to counts in the indictment that do not carry the extreme mandatory minimum sentences, but prosecutors have signaled that they will ask the judge to impose a sentencing enhancement for defendants who engage in terrorism. The enhancement applies when a defendant’s conduct was “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct.” With the enhancement, Mattis and Rahman may be facing up to 10 years in prison.

Rachel Barkow, who wrote the article for the NY Daily News, writes that these prosecutorial tactics were to be expected from the Trump administration, given their political opposition to many involved in the BLM protests. However, Barkow notes that President Biden promised to “fundamentally change” the justice system if elected. She calls on President Biden’s newly-confirmed US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York to intervene and stop prosecutors for seeking the terrorist enhancement in this case.

Click here to read the NY Daily News article.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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