The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced it is investigating links between the far-left group Antifa and violence and looting at protests that erupted during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The agency’s director, Steven McGraw, made the announcement Tuesday while noting the May 31 raid on a Target in Austin, the state capital. He said Antifa coordinated the looting over the Internet.
“The protest and looting of Target in Austin that was done and organized by an Antifa web page and of course, the surveillance that was provided over the Internet identifying where law enforcement resources were staged, was done over Antifa accounts,” McGraw said, according to Reform Austin.
He said the agency is working with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to track down individuals.
“We are talking about violent extremists. There’s anarchists. There’s Antifa, but there are also criminals that are using this as an opportunity to exploit and to loot and hurt others. That’s happened,” he said. “We have a long memory. We have recorded evidence, and we will continue to investigate each and every event to identify those individuals who were involved in criminal conduct and make the appropriate arrests based on probable cause and getting prosecution from either the district attorney or U.S. Attorney’s Office,” McGraw added.
DPS agents were also embedded in the protests over George Floyd’s death to help identify violent elements in the crowds. Some suspects are expected to be taken into custody.
“I don’t mind advertising this. We do have special agents embedded trying to identify criminals that are leveraging these or using these as an opportunity exploiting these demonstrations, identifying them and we’ve already identified some of them and we will be arresting them, but not at this particular moment,” McGraw said.
President Donald Trump said Sunday that the U.S. government will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, but didn’t elaborate.
All four officers present in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, were criminally charged in the case. The state’s attorney general on Wednesday charged Derek Chauvin with second-degree murder and Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The county attorney had charged Chauvin on Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, said Wednesday that he and the prosecutor now believe the evidence warrants the stronger charge.
Graphic videos show Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as the unarmed man gasped for breath and groaned, “Please, I can’t breathe.”
Reuters contributed to this report.