By Adam Shaw | Fox News
The U.S. Attorney for Oregon on Friday called for an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s conduct in cracking down on the riots that have plagued the city of Portland for weeks — just as DHS chief Chad Wolf said his agency would ‘never surrender” to extremists.
Attorney Billy Williams requested the investigation by the DHS Inspector General after a video emerged of federal law enforcement detaining protesters and putting them into unmarked vehicles. Civil rights groups accused the agency of “kidnapping” and the state’s congressional lawmakers and attorney general also demanded an investigation over fears that civil rights had been violated and that it was exacerbating tensions.
DHS ACCUSES PORTLAND OFFICIALS OF ENABLING ‘MOB,’ POSTS TIMELINE OF DAMAGE BY ‘VIOLENT ANARCHISTS’
But DHS said that the video of one protester being bundled into an unmarked car came after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents had information that the individual was suspected of assaulting agents or destroying property, and as a mob approached.
“Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning,” the statement said. “The CBP agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter. The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country.”
Portland has been plagued by violence and rioting since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and businesses have reported tens of millions of dollars in losses. Law enforcement, both federal and local, have been attacked with hammers, fireworks and other weapons, while protesters have released the personal information of officers online.
The Trump administration deployed “rapid deployment teams” to Portland at the beginning of the month to stop violence in the city, as it continued to rage long after protests in other cities had stopped.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday released a lengthy list of the violence that had been committed by “violent anarchists” and visited Portland to survey the chaos that had ensued.
“Our men and women in uniform are patriots,” Wolf said on Twitter after meeting with officers on the ground on Friday. “We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”
The timeline released by DHS 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.
But, despite violence that has engulfed the city for 48 days, Oregon’s lawmakers have sounded the alarm instead at the actions by federal law enforcement, saying they are illegal and excessive, and are only escalating the situation — even though federal forces were only deployed to the liberal city only after it had already suffered weeks of violence.
“The words and action from President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security shows that this is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has called for law enforcement to leave the city, said. “In the past week, President Trump has used our city as a staging ground to further his political agenda, igniting his base to cause further divisiveness and in doing so endangering Portlanders.”
Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic congressional lawmakers — Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici — asked both DHS and Justice Dept. offices of Inspector General to investigate the “unrequested presence and violent actions of federal forces in Portland.”
“DHS and DOJ are engaged in acts that are horrific and outrageous in our constitutional democratic republic,” Merkley said in a statement. “First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for. Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans. We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state. Given the egregious nature of the violations against Oregonians, we are demanding full investigations by them.”
Wolf, meanwhile, showed no signs of backing down on Friday as he posted pictures of him speaking with law enforcement.
“These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days,” Wolf said. “We will prevail.”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News.
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