By Julia Musto | Fox News
Officers specially trained in crowd control will be sent to Seattle, Portland and Washington, DC.
A special federal unit will be deployed across the country for the July 4 weekend in order to protect federal monuments and statues from a possible fresh wave of “domestic extremist” vandalism, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced Wednesday.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends” with hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, Wolf said that the idea was sparked by the “lawlessness” in a variety of communities over the past four weeks and President Trump’s drive to take “strong action” against the destruction of federal property.
DHS DEPLOYS SPECIAL FEDERAL UNIT TO PROTECT MONUMENTS OVER JULY 4 WEEKEND AMID VANDALISM FEARS
“So, we surged federal resources here into the D.C. area about four weeks ago to put down a lot of these violent protests. We have seen a number of arrests. We have seen an executive order from the president,” he said.
“And, what the department is doing as we go into this July 4th holiday, we want to make sure that federal properties, federal facilities, buildings, statues, monuments, that the Department of Homeland Security protects, we want to make sure that we have the personnel there and ready. So we’ve pre-deployed. We are pre-deploying teams to certain areas and we will continue to make sure that we have personnel ready to go,” Wolf said.
According to a Fox News exclusive report, Rapid Deployment Teams (RDTs) from the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT), and consisting of law enforcement officers specially trained in areas such as crowd control and riot control, will be dispatched to Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
Additional RDTs will be dispatched regionally so that they can be flown into any other area within a few hours should unrest spark up in other cities across the U.S.
Mount Rushmore viewed from the Presidential Trail. (National Park Service)
This is on top of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) presence being ramped up higher than usual for a weekend in response to a potential challenge. Hundreds of FPS officers will be protecting facilities, and DHS has identified hundreds more in case they need assistance.
The decision is part of an aggressive response by the Trump administration to push back against nationwide vandalism aimed at monuments in recent weeks, an offshoot of the protests in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Wolf told the “Friends” hosts that the administration is presenting a strong, united front and that DHS is working in partnership with the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to make sure there is a “coordinated whole-of-government approach.”
To date, the Justice Department has made over 100 arrests in response to violence and rioting and has charged four individuals in federal court for attempting to tear down a statue in the capital.
“As we look toward not only July 4th, but we look toward any other time period after that, we want to make sure that our facilities are protected, the statues and monuments on those facilities are protected, and, of course, the people [who] work in those buildings are protected as well,” he added. “And so, again, the department is leaning in and pre-deploying what we call rapid response teams, rapid deployment teams to these areas.”
Wolf said that DHS is “certainly very focused” — although not seeing any “specific intel” — on the possibility that foreign adversaries could attempt to take advantage of domestic violence at the hands of extremists and opportunists.
“But, we are, again, very, very focused on what we see as really violent extremists and violent anarchists here in the country. And we’ve said it again and we’ll keep saying it: We are not going to let these individuals who clearly hate this country continue to terrorize and go after the destruction of federal property, federal monuments,” he concluded. “We are here to stop them.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.