U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland this week demanding answers on the Department of Justice’s decision to pursue a lenient sentence for a BLM rioter because of what he was protesting.
Last year, Montez Terriel Lee, Jr. broke into the Max It Pawn Shop in Minneapolis, Minn., and poured fire accelerant throughout the store. The body of 30-year-old Oscar Lee Stewart was found in the rubble of the pawnshop, and medical examiners attributed his death to “probable inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injury (building fire).” Lee’s casual violence, in short, killed Mr. Stewart.
During Lee’s sentencing process, the Department of Justice contended that “the analysis of the [Sentencing] Guidelines does not appear appropriate” because Lee “appears to have believed that he was, in Dr. King’s eloquent words, engaging in ‘the language of the unheard.’”
Senator Hawley wrote, “Lee’s crime is atrocious, and he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But shockingly, your Department has taken a quite different approach—arguing that Lee deserves leniency because of the circumstances of the crime. Specifically, the Department argued in its position statement that ‘Lee’s motive for setting the fire is a foremost issue” and that “there is no basis to disbelieve [his] statement’ that ‘he was in the streets to protest unlawful police violence against black men”
He continued, “What this position statement makes clear is that, under your leadership, the toxic ideology of critical race theory has spread through the Department. While you treat persons charged with petty offenses from the January 6 riot as hardened criminals, now even the most heinous offenses can be treated leniently, as long as the perpetrator is of the correct race and the crime can be connected to some progressive cause célèbre.”
Senator Hawley requested answers to several questions, including what legal authority the Department relied upon to justify asking for a below-guidelines sentence in this case, and whether the Department had sought other reduced sentences for rioters on the grounds that they were protesting for a supposedly righteous cause.
Read the full letter by clicking here.