San Diego County’s top state and federal prosecutors warned Wednesday that any violence within the county related to inauguration-related protests would result in prosecution.
The joint statement from San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer was issued in connection with an FBI warning that armed protests were being planned at state capitols across the country in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Members of the public were encouraged to report any information related to planned violence.
“I want to be clear that my office will prosecute those who break state laws when they choose violence, hate, assault or vandalism to harm our community — including attacks on fellow citizens and peace officers,” Stephan said. “I call on our community members to work hand in hand with law enforcement to keep our neighborhoods safe and to honor our democracy by reporting suspicious activity. If you see something, say something.”
U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said, “We are issuing the strongest warning possible to anyone who is planning violence in connection with the inauguration. If you repeat the despicable behavior we saw at the Capitol last week, and if you disrespect our great democracy by bringing harm to people or property in a display of hatred and rage, the consequences will be swift and strong. You will be found, and you will be charged. Don’t let that become part of your story.”
The prosecutors also condemned last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Stephan said, “Protesting is an inalienable right recognized by the U.S. Constitution; rioting is a crime. The insurrection that occurred in the U.S. Capitol last week was a despicable, anti-American attack on the democratic fabric of our nation. It’s a wake-up call that locally, we must work together to keep our community safe, including alerting law enforcement to the threat of violence.”
Brewer said his office’s resources would be employed to hold those from the San Diego area who were involved in the siege criminally responsible.
“On January 6, 2021, a mob attacked the United States Capitol,” a statement from Brewer reads. “This was a shameful and reprehensible affront to our democracy, and I condemn it in the strongest possible way. Our Constitution protects the rights of free speech and assembly, but it does not protect mob violence, threats to harm public officials, assaults on law enforcement officers, or damage to government buildings.”
A 35-year-old San Diego woman, Ashli Babbitt, was killed when rioters stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday in an attempt to block Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The Air Force veteran was shot by a Capitol police officer while climbing through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby.
Anyone witnessing a crime in progress or immediate danger was advised to call 911, but those who have information about unlawful violent actions, or has information about the Capitol violence case was urged to submit relevant information, photos or videos to fbi.gov/USCapitol or call 1-800-CALL-FBI to verbally report tips and/or information.
–City News Service