The Biden Justice Department is taking some heat after praising the conviction of a 75-year-old pro-life activist for an alleged crime that took place three years ago but so far ignoring hundreds of violent anti-Israel rioters that pepper-sprayed police last week.
Last week U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves announced the conviction of Paula “Paulette” Harlow, 75, of Kingston, Massachusetts, for a “federal conspiracy against rights” and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act violations for participating in a protest at an abortion clinic in 2020.
Graves said Harlow and a group of eight others “conspired to prevent fellow citizens from exercising their rights to receive and to provide reproductive health care,” and he praised the conviction for a crime that could carry up to 11 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
But some critics are crying foul, noting that Graves has yet to condemn or preview possible prosecution efforts for roughly 200 pro-Palestinian activists, some armed with pepper spray, who violently rioted at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters and injured six Capitol Police officers on Nov. 15.
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“President Biden and his administration have been merciless in their efforts to punish pro-life Americans,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch told Fox News Digital. “He is doing lasting damage to the trust and integrity of a critical part of government.”
“It is one thing to hold an alternative view on abortion. It is entirely different when the president of the United States turns our independent law enforcement agencies into a pro-abortion police force,” he added.
John Shu, a constitutional law expert who served in both the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, questioned why the Justice Department would not be “equally aggressive” in prosecuting the protesters who turned violent and trapped top congressional Democrats inside for a time.
“Because pro-abortion groups and policies are very important to the Democrat party, one would expect Democrat administrations, including the current one, to aggressively enforce the FACE Act, especially post-Dobbs,” Shu told Fox News Digital in a statement.
The FACE Act makes it a federal crime, with potentially steep fines and jail time, to use or threaten to use force to “injure, intimidate, or interfere” with a person seeking reproductive health services or with a person lawfully trying to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship. The FACE Act also prohibits intentional property damage to a facility that provides reproductive health services or a place of religious worship.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has prosecuted dozens of FACE Act cases since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, a notable uptick in applications that disproportionately involve pro-life defendants.
“At the same time, one would think that the DOJ also would be equally aggressive in prosecuting anyone who intentionally injured a federal Capitol Hill police officer, a Metropolitan Police Officer, or any other sworn law enforcement personnel, as the violent [protesters] did at last week’s violent protest at the DNC,” Shu continued.
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“The U.S. Capitol Police specifically stated that it was not peaceful, that [protesters] pepper sprayed and punched law enforcement officers, and that they blocked exits with dumpsters, trapping people, including Democrat Members of Congress, inside. All of these are serious crimes both under the D.C. Crimes Code and the U.S. Code,” Shu added.
Shu said Graves should “thoroughly investigate and prosecute these crimes, regardless of whether most, if not all, of the protesters were on the political left.”
“Otherwise, there is a real risk of appearing to have different or unfair standards of justice based on politics and thus opening up the office to criticism and perhaps oversight hearings,” he added.
Among those laws is the D.C. code that makes it a crime to “riot or incite a riot,” and if someone is injured, it could carry a penalty of $25,000 and 10 years in prison.
PRO-PALESTINIAN VIOLENT PROTEST ERUPTS OUTSIDE DNC HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, DC, CAPITOL POLICE INJURED
The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) released a statement after the “unlawful demonstration,” saying, “We have handled hundreds of peaceful protests, but last night’s group was not peaceful.”
“The crowd failed to obey our lawful orders to move back from the DNC, where Members of Congress were in the building,” the statement reads.
“When the group moved dumpsters in front of the exits, pepper sprayed our officers and attempted to pick up the bike rack, our teams quickly introduced consequences – pulling people off the building, pushing them back, and clearing them from the area, so we could safely evacuate the Members and staff,” the statement continues.
Six officers were treated for injuries, from minor cuts to being pepper-sprayed to being punched, and one arrest was made, according to the USCP.
Annabelle Rutledge of Concerned Women for America, a Christian conservative activist group, said the DOJ’s “new normal” is an inability to discern a “real threat.”
“Congrats to the DOJ for protecting our nation from prayerful grandmas who oppose the murder of unborn life,” she said.
Fox News Digital reached out to Graves’ office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.