Justice Department to investigate Charlottesville violence. But why?

The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the violence that occurred in Charlottesville yesterday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:

The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated. I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia.

The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.

But is federal involvement necessary for justice to prevail? I very much doubt it.

The violence in Charlottesville had two components: the street fighting between right-wing and left-wing extremists and the mowing down of protesters by a Nazi (or Nazi sympathizer). The second component looks like an open and shut case. Local investigators and prosecutors should have no difficulty handling it. The local population will demand that they do their job, which surely will include seeking the maximum penalty against the murderer/terrorist. In Virginia that’s the death penalty.

Determining guilt in connection with the street fighting will be less straightforward. However, there is no reason to think the feds can determine it more accurately than local authorities can. My guess is that, if anything, they can do it more objectively, since they are probably less likely than DOJ civil rights lawyers to sympathize with the hard left.

In short, a federal investigation of the Charlottesville violence strikes me as a waste of resources for the purpose, perhaps, of grandstanding.

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