Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday accused Portland politicians of enabling the “mob” of protesters who have besieged the city for more than six weeks — and posted a lengthy timeline of the damage caused by “violent anarchists.”
“The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city,” Wolf said in a statement. “Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”
The city descended into chaos in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While demonstrations took place in other cities and eventually fizzled out, in Portland they have gone on for more than six weeks, bringing violence and destruction of property.
Local businesses have reported $23 million in losses due to looting and rioting that have gripped its downtown area, and rioters were seen lighting mattresses on fire and setting off fireworks in the streets. Protesters have also set up tents in the park near the federal courthouse and have barricaded streets to create their own autonomous zone, likened to the since-disbanded Capitol Hill Organized Protest in Seattle.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deployed more than a half-dozen law enforcement agencies and departments, with officers from the U.S. Marshals, the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection rotating protection services throughout the city in a bid to quell the violence and protect federal property — a move opposed by local politicians.
On Thursday, Wolf also released a timeline showing the havoc caused by what DHS termed “violent anarchists.”
In the last few days alone, the timeline details how the personal information of officers has been released online, while rioters have assaulted law enforcement with hammers, lasers, slingshots and fireworks, while others have been armed with sledgehammers, tasers and “flaming debris.”
The timeline describes how anarchists tried to “ambush” a Portland Police Department officer during a shift change, only for it to be foiled by a DHS team. It also noted the continued attacks on federal buildings such as the Hatfield Courthouse — one of a number of buildings damaged by rioters.
“A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice – to attack it is to attack America,” Wolf said. “Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community.”
“This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day,” he said.
Democratic officials, meanwhile, have focused on law enforcement’s response to the mob. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote to Wolf and Attorney General William Barr this week complaining that a protester was hit in the head by a crowd control munition.
This weekend a peaceful protestor was shot in the head with a potentially deadly crowd control munition after Donald Trump deployed fed’l law enforcement to Portland. Trump thinks he can treat law enforcement as his personal occupying army. Not on my watch. I’m demanding answers: pic.twitter.com/9MytI1M05A
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 15, 2020
“This politically driven federal response is intolerable,” Wyden said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Ted Wheeler said Wolf called him on Tuesday to speak to him about the ongoing violence and how the government could help.
Wheeler tweeted he told Wolf “that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use.”
“We do not need or want their help,” he said, before saying he asked DHS to clean up graffiti on federal buildings.
I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) July 14, 2020
But Wolf said in his statement that the feds have no intention of standing down, and called on officials to enforce the law and take “appropriate action.”
“This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law,” he said. “DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists.”
Author: Adam Shaw