The Federal Bureau of Investigation took to Twitter on Monday seeking to identify individuals who incited violence during the justice for George Floyd protests. The agency asked the public to submit any tips or digital media that would assist in the efforts to apprehend and charge "violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law."
"The continued violence, potential threat to life, and destruction of property across the United States interferes with the rights and safety of First Amendment-protected peaceful demonstrators, as well as all other citizens," the FBI wrote in a statement. "... If you witness or have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant to the case."
The request received an overwhelming response—but it probably wasn't the response the FBI expected. Social media users replied to the tweet with videos and photos that depicted law enforcement using violence against civilians during the demonstrations. There was that clip of a police vehicle plowing through a crowd of protesters; one that showed officers spraying mace in the faces of a man who was holding his hands up, and another that showed officers launching tear gas into a large group of Philadelphia demonstrators that appeared to be trapped on a hill.
Protests over the police killing of 45-year-old Floyd have escalated over the past week. Though most of the demonstrations have been conducted peacefully and lawfully, they've been overshadowed by a surge of vandalism and looting. A number of lawmakers and members of the Floyd family have spoken out against the violence that has marred the calls for justice.
"First of all, first of all. If I’m not over here wilin’ out, if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community — then what are y’all doing? Nothing, because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all," Terrence Floyd—George Floyd's brother—said Monday. "So let’s do this another way. Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and vote… because it’s a lot of us and we still going to do this peacefully."