DENVER (KDVR) — Lawmakers are calling for tougher penalties for rioters who take over peaceful protests, wreak havoc on property and endanger lives.
Republican Colorado Congressman Ken Buck is leading a list of 50 lawmakers in urging the Department of Justice to go after large organizers of violent protests and groups that provide them with financial support.
Buck said violent rioters must be held accountable for destruction and assault.
“It is important to have a full and fair and open discussion of social justice issues but I think it’s equally important for anyone who crosses that line into violence to be prosecuted,” he said.
Twenty-two year old Timothy Wempen has been charged with assault and explosives violations in connection with an outbreak of violence last month in downtown Denver.
The Denver District Attorney’s office says he threw fireworks at Denver police headquarters leaving an officer with third-degree burns and a possible concussion.
A spokesperson for District Attorney Beth McCann said each case is evaluated on its merits. In this case, the facts support the charges that the office is able to bring versus charges that the federal government can bring.
Congressman Buck, who has served as a former federal prosecutor and district attorney, said he agrees.
“The line is pretty clear, the federal government has jurisdiction over crimes that are interstate” he said.
“I think it’s absolutely appropriate for the Denver District Attorney to prosecute an individual protester for an individual act of violence,” added Buck.