Trump administration officials on Tuesday defended federal officers deployed in Portland after criticism that the agents were unconstitutionally “kidnapping” protesters in the city.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the officers are arresting “anarchists” who vandalize federal property as others, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, insist protesters have the right to peacefully assemble.
“What is occurring in Portland in the early hours of every morning is not peaceful protesting,” Wolf told reporters at a Tuesday briefing with reporters.
“These individuals are organized and they have one mission in mind: to burn down or cause extreme damage to the federal courthouse and to law enforcement officers.”
Wolf said the federal agents, whom he described as “civilian police officers,” have arrested 43 people since increasing enforcement in the city on July 4, though he couldn’t specify how many have been charged with a crime.
Last week, Oregon officials said they planned to sue the Trump administration for sending the federal officers to the city, accusing the Trump administration of escalating the violence and antagonizing protesters.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Saturday released a joint statement accusing federal agents of “kidnapping” protesters and vowed to “curb [the] egregious abuses” of the agents.
But the federal government doesn’t have any plans to pull back. Wolf said DHS will keep the officers deployed as long as federal property is threatened. He slammed city leaders for taking “little to no action” to quell the attacks against the property and cited their alleged ambivalence for the need for federal intervention.
“We will not retreat,” Wolf said. “We will continue to take the appropriate action to protect our facilities and our law enforcement officers.”
Some officials have criticized the agents for using unmarked cars and for not wearing clothing properly identifying their affiliation. Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, said the officers have been authorized to keep a low profile for their own protection.
Morgan justified the officers’ use of unmarked vehicles by citing the Molotov cocktail that was tossed at an NYPD vehicle full of cops during a George Floyd protest in late May.
“So yeah, I think not only is it a common practice among law enforcement, but also in these circumstances, it makes sense to use an unmarked vehicle,” he said at the briefing.
Morgan said the officers wear “POLICE” on patches across the front and back of their vests along with other badges noting their affiliation with federal agencies.
Though the officers have been authorized to not wear identifying name tags, which Morgan said was to protect them from “disgusting” doxxing attacks that could result in their personal information getting leaked.
When asked whether the officers would be deployed to other cities, Wolf deferred the question to President Trump. Though he did note he felt the situation was “unique” to Portland.
“There is no other city like it right now that we see this violence at federal courthouses,” Wolf Said. “We have no other teams like [those] that have been described here in any other city. It’s just Portland.”
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article