CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – United States Attorney Mike Stuart issued the following statement regarding protests and riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“The death of George Floyd is tragic. I pray for his family, the community of Minneapolis, and all those affected by his death.
This nation is grounded in the right to protest and in the rule of law. While peaceful protests are powerful, the violence, looting and property destruction occurring across our country are not acceptable forms of protest but, rather, criminal acts. This type of violence undermines the cause and defies the memory of George Floyd and those who protest peacefully.
A few bad apples don’t ruin an orchard – 99.99% of police and law enforcement are noble public servants, and 99.99% of the protestors are noble concerned Americans who love their country and are deeply troubled by George Floyd’s death. The vast majority of police and the vast majority of protestors are law abiding caring people. I “Back the Blue” and I support the right of protest. Sadly, however, ANTIFA and anarchists that have a goal of civil unrest, violence and destruction are overwhelming the purpose of the protests.
Communities are fed up with the violence. Peaceful protestors are fed up with the violence. In West Virginia, protests must remain peaceful. If you pick up a brick to throw it at law enforcement officers or a business, if you burn a business or a car, if you cause violence, or if you target law enforcement, you will be arrested, charged, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
I am in constant contact with Bill Powell, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, and I am in regular communication with the Governor’s team, the head of the WV State Police, state and local law enforcement partners and elected leaders.
I support the unified intent to protect the rights of peaceful protestors to exercise their fundamental right and to ensure the lawlessness occurring in other states does not occur here. I assure you that my office stands ready to take federal law enforcement action against violent criminal agitators and inciters who undermine the power of peaceful protests. We will act, and quickly, if violence occurs in West Virginia. The rule of law must be maintained. Public safety must be our priority.”