White House, DHS defend using federal officers in Portland

Protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The White House and Department of Homeland Security defended the tactics of federal officers in Portland amid a growing outcry on Tuesday.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters he would pull Homeland Security agents out of the city’s downtown area immediately “if the violence stops.”

Federal authorities at DHS also revealed officers had made seven arrests from Monday’s demonstrations, which marked the 53rd consecutive night of protests in the city since the killing of George Floyd in late May.

DHS said “violent anarchists” and “rioters” kicked the door of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and vandalized the building, and that “federal officers responded to this assault by deploying pepper balls and tear gas.”

Earlier Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany used a provision of federal law that allows Homeland Security to “protect the buildings, grounds and property that are owned, occupied, or secured by the federal government … and the persons on the property,” according to CBS News.

Besides Homeland Security, federal officers with Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals and Federal Protective Services have been deployed to Portland. Wolf told reporters the federal officers who were caught on camera beating an unarmed Navy veteran were U.S. Marshals and deferred questions to the Department of Justice. FPS Deputy Director of Operations Richard Cline confirmed an investigation into excessive force has been launched.

City, state and federal lawmakers have roundly condemned the involvement of federal authorities, whose presence has galvanized more Portland residents to take to the streets in protest, including a group of politically active mothers and fathers.

When asked how he would respond to the criticism from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Wolf defended the decision.

“What I would say, if you did your job from the local perspective, we wouldn’t be there, just like how we’re not in any other city with this type of deployment force having to protect other courthouses,” he said.

Reports have emerged of the Trump Administration considering deploying similar forces to other major U.S. cities, including Chicago.

Tuesday’s defense of federal officers in Portland came as a second lawsuit was filed against the federal government. The lawsuit called the deployment a violation of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. A lawsuit was also filed by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum late last week.

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