(CNN)Justice Department prosecutors looked into the possibility of bringing criminal or civil charges against local officials in Portland, Oregon, over their handling of weeks of protests that for a period laid siege to a federal courthouse and other buildings, according to Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
The idea is part of Attorney General William Barr’s push for aggressive action by federal prosecutors against violence surrounding nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
Typically, in times of local unrest, local prosecutors take the lead in bringing charges against people carrying out violence. But Barr has pushed for greater use of federal prosecution, even in relatively minor cases usually left up to local district attorneys to enforce. The Justice Department has announced charges against more than 250 people related to civil unrest since June.