Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is defending a disturbing scene in Portland, Oregon, by brandishing a not-so-disturbing reality. The secretary also chastised protesters for allegedly attacking "the courageous law enforcement officers" charged with protecting the city's buildings.
"The events of last night at the federal courthouse were the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests", Brown said, as quoted by The Seattle Times. President Donald Trump had ordered the federal officers to deploy at the Portland protests.
Federal officers have come under fire after videos emerged showing them seizing protesters off the street and forcing them into unmarked vans.
Demonstrators began erecting tents in downtown Portland's Lownsdale Square, across the street from the federal Pioneer Courthouse, one of the federal properties Homeland Security is protecting after bringing federal officers into the city two weeks ago.
Law enforcement officers who have been working to protect the courthouse have been subjected to "threats; aerial fireworks including mortars; high-intensity lasers targeting officers' eyes; [and] thrown rocks, bottles, and balloons filled with paint from demonstrators while performing their duties", the statement added. He said they asked him if he wanted to waive his rights and answer some questions, but Pettibone declined and said he wanted a lawyer.
Mark Pettibone and Conner O'Shea described to OPB their experience with federal agents on the streets of Portland.
"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", Wolf said. We very much quelled it. They were sent to the area with orders to protect federal property amid ongoing protests against police brutality.
In a livestream operated by the Portland police, protesters could be heard chanting that they will "burn it down" if they do not receive "justice". Dressed in full military garb without any identification, the officers have been arresting protestors without explanation and removing them from the streets in unmarked minivans.
The federal deployment is part of Trump's effort to take forceful action against protesters who have engaged in at-time raucous demonstrations around the country, never mind that public safety is the responsibility of state and local officials.
"Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street we call it kidnapping - what is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the U.S.", Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of OR, said in a statement.
He said he was concerned that the federal officers' actions exacerbated an already tense environment in Portland. We do not need federal police bullying our citizens.
The Nation's Jeet Heer wrote Friday that "on the face of it, what these federal officers are doing is illegal and unconstitutional". "I would consider telling them to leave - and I have no authority to do so".
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