NYT: FBI, Homeland Security memos show different approaches to protests

Protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Memos from the FBI and Homeland Security reveal new insight into the agencies approaches toward the Black Lives Matter protests nationwide and in Portland, according to a report.

The New York Times reports that in a memo from June 2, a week after the killing of George Floyd, the FBI’s deputy director called the massive nationwide protests “a national crisis,” said agents should investigate “violent protesters, instigators … inciters” with “robust social media exploitation teams” and suggested using the Hobbs Act, a federal anti-racketeering law meant to criminalize robbery and extortion in labor unions.

“Think differently, outside the box,” the memo reportedly stated.

Meanwhile, a July 16 memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly revealed investigators were not as confident about the source of the Portland protests. The memo, which traced the Pacific Northwest’s history of protests and extremists, stated agents have “low confidence” in their assessment “because we lack insight into the motives for the most recent attacks.”

The New York Times report comes after U.S. Attorney General William Barr condemned the “rioters” outside of the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland and defended the actions of federal officers in Portland and elsewhere.

“Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said during a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

However, hours after Barr spoke in front of Congress, a senior White House source told the Associated Press the Trump administration and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s officer were discussing how to remove federal agents, reportedly indicating the agents would leave if the state stepped up its own enforcement.

The protests had been waning in intensity until social media video capturing what appeared to be unidentified camouflaged federal officers on the streets of Portland whisking protesters away in unmarked vehicles. Tuesday night is expected to be the 61st consecutive night of demonstrations downtown.

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