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Officials warn of federal prosecution for criminal actions during protests

Updated June 3, 2020 - 8:30 am

Federal authorities in Nevada say anyone engaging in criminal activity that hijacks otherwise peaceful protests in the state will face federal charges and prosecution.

“Federal law enforcement will investigate, apprehend, and charge violent criminal instigators and organizers who have taken over peaceful protests and violated federal law,” a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich and U.S. Marshal Gary Schofield said.

Trutanich referenced the shooting of Las Vegas Officer Shay Mikalonis on Monday night as an example of the type of conduct that could result in federal charges.

“Last night, violence in Las Vegas resulted in the senseless shooting of a police officer while he was protecting our community,” Trutanich said. “Our thoughts are with the officer and his family. The right to peacefully protest and demonstrate is among the most fundamental rights held by all Americans. Violence and looting not only interferes with that right, bu they also put lives at risk. Defying those peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights, and diverting focus away from the legitimate outrage over Mr. (George) Floyd’s death are unacceptable.”

Schofield said, “We continue to support peaceful protesters and reject what occurred after a peaceful protest.”

Las Vegas police said Tuesday that Mikalonis was shot by Edgar Samaniego, 20, of Las Vegas. Mikalonis was in critical condition as of Monday night at University Medical Center. Samaniego is scheduled for an appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court on Wednesday morning on charges of attempted murder of a police officer with a deadly weapon and two counts of discharging a gun where a person might be endangered.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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