Top security officials at the DHS defended the use of force against protesters in Portland as well as their agency’s presence there, saying that other cities would see similar crackdowns if needed.
Ken Cuccinelli, the DHS’s acting deputy secretary, claimed that the agency had sent forces to back up the federal protective service after “receiving intelligence about planned attacks on federal facilities.”
Demonstrators protesting against racism and police brutality have gathered around the federal courthouse daily in Portland since the brutal murder of unarmed African American George Floyd during a May 25 arrest in Minneapolis, with crowds at times going beyond 10,000.
Portland police used tear gas on the protesters, some of whom sprayed graffiti on buildings, until Oregon Governor Kate Brown in early July banned its use except in the case of riots.
Media reports said federal agents had taken into custody 13 people, but there was no immediate confirmation from the authorities.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, told Fox News on Monday that the department had no intention of pulling back its forces from Portland despite the city officials’ demand.
“DHS is not going to back down from our responsibilities. We are not escalating, we are protecting,” Wolf said, adding that the US federal law enforcement was doing its job.
“We’re not going to apologize for it,” he said. “We’re going to do it professionally and do it correctly.”
Police declared a state of riot early Sunday after people broke into a Portland Police Association office and set it on fire amid protests to battle police brutality and racial injustice.
US President Donald Trump has defended the crackdown on anti-racism demonstrators, calling the protesters “anarchists and agitators.”
Protests to bear upon elections: Analyst
In phone interview with Press TV on Monday, an African American journalist in Detroit said the situation unfolding in Portland “exposed the Trump administration for its blatant violation of civil rights and human rights.”
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire, also stated that the protests in Portland would continue and have an important effect on the upcoming elections.
“The demonstrations across the United States are continuing. They are continuing on a very militant and very mass-based approach to the struggle. People are calling for the defunding of the police. They are also calling for the resignation of key figures within the security apparatus, and the various local constituencies,” Azikiwe said.
“So, this movement is building around the United States and more and more people are coming on board and it is clearly going to be a factor in the upcoming elections in November. It’s not clear what the outcome of the elections is going to be at this point. But these issues will definitely be debated along with the overall public health crisis that exists in the country, as well as the dire economic situation that people in the United States are now facing,” he added.