White supremacists, extremists may use Chauvin trial to further their agendas: DHS

Some extremists have posted online about a "race war," DHS said.

April 8, 2021, 3:32 PM

As Derek Chauvin's murder trial continues in Minneapolis, the intelligence branch of the Department of Homeland Security is warning that foreign adversaries and domestic extremists may use the case to further their own agendas.

In an intelligence briefing obtained by ABC News, DHS analysts warn that domestic extremists -- including anarchists and white supremacists -- "may attempt to exploit activities and events surrounding the legal proceeding" and "violence could occur with little or no warning."

PHOTO: Defense attorney Eric Nelson and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, introduce themselves to potential jurors  in Minneapolis, March 23, 2021.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, introduce themselves to potential jurors in Minneapolis, March 23, 2021.
Court TV via AP, FILE

The briefing goes through the various types of extremists who it says might exploit the events. The agency warns that domestic violent extremists could commit violence during the trial, but "are more likely following the outcome of the trials associated with the death of George Floyd."

Some domestic extremist groups the briefing warns about include those who are adherents to the anti-government "boogaloo" movement. After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Justice Department announced the arrest of two militia members associated with the boogaloo movement, including one who allegedly sought to incite a riot in Louisville, Kentucky, during the Capitol riot.

DHS also concluded that violent anarchist extremists were likely to use the Chauvin trial, regardless of the outcome, to "incite others online" and "commit property damage against critical infrastructure, such as government facilities." The report also said that a "likely anarchist violent extremist" posted an image online threatening law enforcement in response to the trial.

Some white supremacist extremists have remarked online that the Chauvin trial may lead to a race war, the briefing states.

Black separatists groups may target law enforcement officers or government facilities should Chauvin be acquitted, or if there is a mistrial, or if sentencing against Chauvin is perceived too lenient, the DHS briefing also stated.

Additionally, DHS warned that foreign entities could see an opportunity in the ongoing trial.

"Foreign terrorist groups and nation-state adversaries may seek to sow discord by portraying the trials as indicative of a racist and divided American public," the document says. "Last year, both al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham published media depicting the civil unrest as emblematic of societal division in the United States, and al-Qa'ida compared the protests to its alleged efforts to 'end injustice and oppose tyranny.' Russian and Iranian media outlets have claimed that the trials surrounding the death of George Floyd illustrate America's police brutality and racism, according to press reporting."

Members of the Boogaloo Bois group stand armed on Gun Lobby Day outside the Virginia Capitol in Richmond, Va., Jan. 18, 2021.
The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE

George Floyd, 46, was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. on May 26, 2020 after allegedly using a fake $20 bill at a local Cup Foods. A disturbing cellphone video later posted to Facebook showed former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on the back of Floyd's neck while the handcuffed man repeats "I can't breathe" and goes unconscious. Floyd later died at a hospital. The incident sparked nationwide outrage and Black Lives Matter protests.

Chauvin, and three officers involved in the incident: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, both felonies, court records show.

Chauvin also received an additional second-degree murder charge, a felony, according to court records.

The trial is currently in the ninth day of proceedings.

ABC News' Samara Lynn, Rosa Sanchez, Alexander Mallin, Bill Hutchinson and Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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