Pramila Jayapal
© Pool via REUTERS / Matt McClain
Pramila Jayapal questions Attorney General William Barr during the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) has compared armed anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan, an open-carry state, to vandals and rioters in Portland, as she unleashed a tirade on AG Bill Barr for treating the groups differently.

Barr was accused of plenty by Democrats during Tuesday's hearing, from politicizing the Justice Department to being "unAmerican" for deploying federal officers to violent protests in Portland, Oregon. However, Jayapal went a step further and questioned the way the attorney general responds to protests involving black citizens and those involving white ones, while comparing and contrasting anti-lockdown protests in Michigan in April and May and the current Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.


"But in Michigan when protesters carried guns and Confederate flags and swastikas and called for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched, somehow you are not aware of that," she told Barr.


Comment: Jayapal exaggerates. See below.


"There is a real discrepancy in how you react as attorney general when white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns. There is no need for the president to, quote, 'activate you,' because they're getting the president's personal agenda done," she continued.

While some of the anti-lockdown protesters against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) were armed and were indeed allowed into the state capitol, there were no reports of vandalism or violence against either lawmakers or officers who were protecting the building. Michigan is an open-carry state, and it is not illegal to bear firearms inside the statehouse.

At least one protester at the Michigan rally was seen holding a poster with a swastika. However, the imagery was used not to glorify Nazism, as some might have deduced from Jayapal's outburst, but rather to compare Whitmer's restrictive coronavirus measures to Hitler's totalitarianism.


Some of the protesters waved Confederate flags, and a scuffle erupted between protesters at a rally in May after one of them displayed a doll with a noose around her neck.

Speaking about the protests in Portland, Jayapal, on the contrary, fell short of mentioning violence that has been running rampant in the city for over two months.

"But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism and the president's very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs because they are considered terrorists by the president," she said.

Federal agents were only deployed to Portland after the demonstrations had turned to rioting, and protesters attempted to burn down a federal courthouse. The dubious nature of the comparison was not lost on netizens, who teared into Jayapal for drawing parallels between vandals, rioters and armed, but non-violent protesters.

"This is so unbelievably stupid on so many levels - the Michigan protesters, whatever you think of them, weren't attacking federal property or personnel; what's happening at night at the Portland courthouse is not peaceful protest; and the Portland rioters are mostly white," author Rich Lowry tweeted.

"It really is remarkable. Congress has a dumb**s who can't tell the difference between a peaceful protest and an attempt to burn down a courthouse and thinks it is racist that the Attorney General is smart enough to distinguish the two," conservative commentator Erick Erickson added.




At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Barr lashed out at Jayapal and other Democrat committee members for not seeing a difference between peaceful protests and "mob violence."

"What makes me concerned for the country is [that] this is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts," he said.